Training pathways to becoming a helicopter or aeroplane pilot

There are lots of different training pathways to become a helicopter or aeroplane pilot. Each pathway has a different entry level requirement, duration and cost so look at each pathway to find the right one for you. Flight Training School websites provide lots of info on different types of training and the CASA website lists all the pilot training and licensing requirements in the Licences & Certifications section of the site.

An airline cadetship

  • Entry Requirements: Yr 12 or equivalent required
  • Duration: 12 month duration

Airline cadetships provide integrated flying training and ground theory taught by a certified Flight Training organisation. Airline cadetships are paid for by the student and government fee assistance is usually available. Airlines conduct a selection process to join the cadetship program but employment on completion of the cadetship is not always guaranteed.

Independent Flying Schools

  • Entry Requirements: Nil entry requirements
  • Duration: Duration dependant on qualification obtained

Independent Flying Schools are based at smaller airports. They provide excellent flying training in a friendly environment. If you choose this pathway there are experienced aviation theory course providers who can help with the theory component of the training. This is often the most cost effective way to gain flying hours and qualifications but take care as not all flying school students are eligible to receive government training fee assistance.

An integrated flight training course

  • Entry Requirements: Nil entry requirements
  • Duration: Training 12 month duration to CPL level

Larger flying schools and aviation colleges offer integrated flight training courses which consist of a combination of ground theory and practical flight training. It’s a structured program designed to be completed within a condensed period of time. With this pathway flying experience is reduced compared to non-integrated training pathway. Most integrated flying training course students are eligible to receive government fee assistance.


  • Entry Requirements: ATAR required
  • Duration: Duration 1.5 years - 3 years dependant on qualifications obtained

Universities offer integrated flight training courses and the practical flying component of these courses is taught by either local independent flying schools or the flight department of the University. Universities offer flying training as a Diploma or Bachelor course with course content varying between universities. Most Bachelor degrees provide you with full Commercial Pilots Licence, Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating and Air Transport Pilot Licence theory. Government fee assistance is usually available to University course students.


  • Entry Requirements: Year 12 or equivalent entry requirement
  • Duration: Approximately 12 months depending on aircraft type

The Defence Forces offer a range of flying careers including transport, fast jet and rotary. Military training is structured and you are paid to learn to fly. The Navy and the Army both have their own Air Wings offering different experiences and career choices to the Air Force. Head over to the Defence Jobs website to check the option that best suits you


  • Entry Requirements: Nil entry requirements
  • Duration: Training duration 12 months to CPL level

TAFE offers excellent Flight Training courses. A TAFE Diploma of Aviation provides you with a Commercial Pilot Licence and the option to study for 4-6 months to gain a Command Multi Engine Instrument Rating and/or an Instructor Rating. The flying component of the course is taught at an independent flying school located close to the TAFE. Government fee assistance is available for TAFE courses.