How To Become A Pilot For Alaska Airlines
Are you considering a career as a professional pilot?
Here’s what you need to know if you want to become a pilot for Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airlines is a major airline in the United States and the sixth largest airline in North America. Headquartered in SeaTac, Washington, Alaska and its regional partners fly as many as 46 million passengers each year to more than 100 destinations in the contiguous United States, Hawaii, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
Alaska operates a mainline fleet of about 330 aircraft, mainly consisting of Boeing 737 series with some Airbus A320 family.
Why Become a Pilot with Alaska Airlines?
As you may know, the U.S. is in the midst of a pilot shortage. With an aging workforce, an FAA-mandated retirement age of 65, and an ever-increasing demand for air travel, major airlines like Alaska are expected to be short as many as 8,000 pilots by 2023. The good news is that with so many open positions, pilot salaries and bonuses are rising and there has never been a better time to enter the aviation industry as a new pilot.
Alaska Airlines operates a large domestic route network primarily focused on travel from the Pacific Northwest, West Coast, and Alaska. Alaska is a member of the Oneworld alliance, the third largest airline alliance in the world. The airline operates out of five hubs, SEA (Seattle, WA) being the primary hub. Pilots are based at one of five domiciles: ANC (Anchorage, AK), LAX (Los Angeles, CA), PDX (Portland, Oregon), SEA, and SFO (San Francisco, CA).
Alaska does not have long-haul flights, so pilots may enjoy a degree of flexibility that other major airlines cannot provide. Pilots bid for their domiciles based on seniority, and the number of opportunities at each domicile is based on demand.
So how much do Alaska pilots make?
Airline pilot salaries depend on a number of factors including experience and number of hours flown per month. Airline captains and first officers do not earn a flat annual salary. Instead, they receive an hourly wage for each flight hour flown plus a per diem. As of February 2022, Alaska first officers make $93 per hour in their first year and can work their way up to $197 per hour in their twelfth year. Alaska captains start at $226 per hour and increase to $266 by year 12.
Career benefits for Alaska pilots include healthcare, family and medical leave, a 401(k) with company match, quarterly and annual bonus programs, an Employee Stock Purchase Plan, discounts at popular travel companies and retailers, charity donation matching, and free, unlimited travel for employees and eligible family members on Alaska and Horizon flights on a standby basis.
Alaska Airlines has publicly committed to fostering a more inclusive environment among their pilot pool. In 2019, Alaska signed a pledge with Sisters of the Skies, a nonprofit committed to pilot diversity, to increase their number of Black female pilots by 2025. If you are a Black female pilot or aspiring pilot, you may be interested in connecting with an Alaska representative to discuss how they can support you in achieving your career goals.
Education and Career Path
In order to become an Alaska pilot, you must earn a Commercial Pilot License, build the required amount of flight experience, and then earn an Airline Transport Pilot License. Additionally, Alaska Airlines seeks to hire pilots with excellent judgment, leadership skills, demonstrated command ability and maturity.
Alaska requires 2000 hours total flight time in a fixed-wing aircraft or 1200 hours total flight time in a high-performance military aircraft, though they prefer 1000 hours in multi-engine turbine fixed-wing aircraft as Pilot-in-Command .
The amount of time it takes to meet Alaska’s pilot requirements depends on how long it takes you to complete each step of the training process.
A good flight training program sets the groundwork for your career as you build the skills, experience, knowledge, and confidence you need to become a pilot at an airline.
With an accelerated flight training program, a student pilot starting with zero experience can expect to earn the required certifications and build the necessary flight hours to begin training for their Airline Transport Pilot License within 2 years. By following a carefully optimized syllabus, a student pilot will graduate with the following: Private Pilots License, Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot License Single Engine, Commercial Pilot License Multi Engine, Certified Flight Instructor, Certified Flight Instructor Instrument, Multi Engine Flight Instructor.
Flight school graduates typically begin their pilot career as a first officer at a regional airline such as AeroGuard’s partner SkyWest Airlines, where they work their way up to captain by accruing flight experience as Pilot in Command. Pilot seniority will play an important role in your ability to quickly move up in regional airlines, which is why choosing a flight school that offers immediate seniority is critical.
After serving as Captain of a regional airline and meeting the Alaska Airlines minimum requirements, you are eligible to apply for First Officer, and begin your career with one of the best airlines in the U.S.
The AeroGuard Advantage
Whether you have your sights set on a career with Alaska Airlines or another major airline, AeroGuard’s Pilot Pathway Program is a great way to start your journey.
A full-time, accelerated pilot training program, the Pilot Pathway Program is designed to take students from zero experience to regional airline-ready in as little as two years. By partnering with SkyWest Airlines, the program offers a streamlined path from flight training, to building flight experience, to a job as a regional airline pilot, all in one place.
Our SkyWest partnership offers many unique advantages for students, including an innovative curriculum, mentor workshops, opportunities to network with SkyWest professionals, and a guaranteed First Officer interview with SkyWest.
Following acceptance, you will have some of the highest seniority in your class and the training and experience you will need for a long and successful career. SkyWest pilots are highly regarded in the industry and in addition to guaranteed First Officer Interviews for AeroGuard graduates, SkyWest offers it’s qualified Captains guaranteed interviews with 4 Major Airline partners, including Alaska Airlines.
AeroGuard has four flight school locations across the United States, strategically chosen for their ideal flight conditions, air complexity and proximity to city centers that offer a high quality of living : Phoenix, AZ; Chandler, AZ; Austin, TX; and Fort Myers, FL.
The AeroGuard Pilot Pathway Program is available at all four locations. Whichever AeroGuard campus you choose, you can expect a focused and professional flight training environment with ample flying days to accelerate your flight training.
If you’re ready to make the move and start your new career path with AeroGuard, contact us and speak with one of our enrollment advisors today.