Finding the right training pathway

It’s very difficult to find impartial guidance on how to choose the right training pathway and training provider.

Be wary of students who post online words to the effect “I did my training with [School A] and they are the best in the market“. Most students have experience of only one training provider so they can’t possibly make valid judgements about which is best. Furthermore, students who graduated many years ago can’t tell you what their school is like now. They can only tell you what it used to be like!

Also be wary of schools who boast about their longevity “we’ve been training students successfully for [xx] years and our graduates are in every major airline in the world…etc”. That may be true. Indeed, it would be surprising if, after so long, their graduates hadn’t found themselves in every airline! But are they still the best? Are they constantly reinventing their products and services, or are they simply churning out the same old stuff while new and better schools emerge and overtake them.

Some schools focus solely on exam pass rates. This industry is changing and changing rapidly. In times past, airlines looked little further than a good set of first-time exam passes but they’ve grown wise to the distorting effects of 3rd party online exam databases.

A good set of first-time passes is still important, but so too is the ability to talk in depth and with insight when answering technical questions during your airline interview. You won’t succeed at this later stage if you followed the ‘learn-and-dump’ approach to your education.


Our best advice is to critically assess the things each school is prepared to show you, and mostly ignore the things they’re keen to tell you.


Some independent schools make outlandish claims for their offerings. Claims which are unsubstantiated and are designed simply to pull you in.

Similarly, be cautious of big, impressive trade stands at pilot career events. The biggest stands are usually associated with the biggest training providers. Very large training providers can offer an excellent training pathway but they also cater for large airline contracts. If you are an individual, self-financing, student you may or may not get the best service from them. Several very good ’boutique’ schools have emerged over the last 5 years. These aim to cater more attentively to the specific needs of individual trainees.

Will I be able to cope with the theory phase ?

Yes you will! It’s not easy, mostly because of the large volume of knowledge that you have to absorb. But it’s doable, provided you take your time.

We cover all this and more in our book: You, Yourself and Aviation, available from the Apple Bookstore.

Many integrated schools cram the theory phase into 6-8 months of hard study right at the very beginning. There are sound economic reasons for doing this but it’s a less than optimal educational approach. Not only will much of the content have little meaning to you, but also the time pressure of cramming everything in in such a short space of time can cause a lot of stress.

If you have the time, do some pre-course study. There are many topics which lend themselves to early self-study, before you join the classroom sessions, or even a school. Padpilot’s Guide to Distance Learning is a free book which explains the best learning methods and identifies what to study first.