Airline First Officer Job Description [Updated for 2024]

airline first officer job description

In the modern era of global connectivity, the role of airline first officers is more critical than ever.

As aviation industry soars to new heights, the demand for skilled professionals who can navigate, manage, and ensure the safety of our airways grows stronger.

But let’s delve deeper: What’s really expected from an airline first officer?

Whether you are:

  • An aspiring pilot trying to understand the nuances of this role,
  • An aviation recruiter searching for the ideal candidate,
  • Or simply fascinated by the complex world of aviation,

You’ve landed at the right runway.

Today, we present to you a customizable airline first officer job description template, crafted for easy posting on job boards or career portals.

Let’s take off and explore.

Airline First Officer Duties and Responsibilities

An Airline First Officer, also known as a co-pilot, works alongside the Captain in managing the flight operations of an aircraft.

They have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Assist in pre-flight preparations, including assisting the Captain in flight planning and calculating aircraft weight and balance
  • Perform pre-flight checks of aircraft systems and equipment such as engines, hydraulics, avionics, and safety systems
  • Assist the Captain during takeoff and landing by managing the aircraft’s systems and keeping a watchful eye on the flight instruments
  • Communicate with air traffic control to receive instructions and provide information about the flight
  • Monitor weather conditions and air traffic during the flight
  • Assist the Captain in managing emergency situations, which may include technical problems, passenger incidents, or severe weather
  • Ensure compliance with all aviation regulations and standards
  • Help in maintaining the aircraft’s logbook, recording any technical issues experienced during the flight, and reporting these to maintenance personnel
  • Participate in post-flight debriefings with the flight crew to discuss the flight and any issues encountered


Airline First Officer Job Description Template

Job Brief

We are looking for a skilled Airline First Officer to join our team.

The Airline First Officer, often referred to as the co-pilot, will assist the Captain in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of our flights.

The ideal candidate will have excellent flying skills, a strong attention to detail, and a commitment to maintaining the highest safety standards.



  • Assist the Captain in pre-flight preparations, including reviewing the flight plan and performing pre-flight inspections.
  • Co-pilot the aircraft and perform tasks as directed by the Captain.
  • Perform takeoffs and landings under the supervision of the Captain.
  • Monitor flight instruments and systems during flight.
  • Communicate with air traffic control and cabin crew as needed.
  • Assist in emergency situations, following established protocols.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of safety procedures, navigation systems, and flight regulations.
  • Complete post-flight duties, including submitting flight reports and documenting any technical issues.



  • Valid Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) or First Officer Qualification
  • Medical fitness as certified by the Aviation Authority
  • Experience in a multi-pilot environment
  • Excellent flying skills
  • Strong understanding of aviation safety standards and procedures
  • Ability to operate navigation and emergency equipment
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure



  • 401(k)
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Retirement plan
  • Paid time off
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Travel benefits


Additional Information

  • Job Title: Airline First Officer
  • Work Environment: This role involves flying and travelling to various locations, with irregular hours including nights, weekends, and holidays. Long periods of time may be spent in the cockpit.
  • Reporting Structure: Reports to the Airline Captain and Chief Pilot.
  • Salary: Salary is based upon candidate experience and qualifications, as well as market and business considerations.
  • Pay Range: $80,000 minimum to $150,000 maximum
  • Location: [City, State] (specify the location or indicate if remote)
  • Employment Type: Full-time
  • Equal Opportunity Statement: We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.
  • Application Instructions: Please submit your resume and a copy of your valid Airline Transport Pilot License to [email address or application portal].


What Does an Airline First Officer Do?

An Airline First Officer, also known as a co-pilot, plays a pivotal role in the flight operations of an airline.

They work alongside the Captain to ensure the safe and smooth operation of flights.

Their tasks include assisting with pre-flight preparations by checking the aircraft’s engines, controls, and safety systems.

They also help in planning the flight’s route, taking into consideration factors such as fuel, altitude, and weather conditions.

During the flight, the First Officer is responsible for operating controls and systems under the Captain’s supervision.

They may take over flying the aircraft to allow the Captain to rest on long-haul flights.

The First Officer also shares in the responsibility of communicating with air traffic control and the airline’s operations team.

They assist in making decisions regarding flight changes due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

In case of emergencies, the First Officer assists the Captain in handling the situation, which may include performing emergency procedures or helping in the evacuation of passengers.

Furthermore, they are expected to continually upgrade their knowledge and skills, staying informed about the latest aviation rules, regulations, and procedures.


Airline First Officer Qualifications and Skills

Airline First Officers are highly trained professionals who assist the Captain in ensuring safe and smooth flights.

The skills and qualifications needed include:

  • Possessing a strong understanding of aircraft systems, aerodynamics, and principles of flight, as well as maintaining a current Airline Transport Pilot License.
  • Having excellent communication skills to interact effectively with the captain, crew members, ground staff, and in some cases, passengers.
  • Exhibiting exceptional problem-solving abilities to handle unexpected situations such as changes in flight plan, weather conditions, or technical issues.
  • Being able to maintain calm and composed under high-pressure situations and making crucial decisions swiftly and effectively.
  • Showing a high degree of attention to detail to ensure adherence to all safety regulations and operating procedures.
  • Having the physical stamina to handle long, sometimes irregular, flight hours and the ability to manage jet lag.
  • Working well in a team environment to ensure a coordinated approach to all flight operations.
  • Demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning and staying updated on the latest aviation industry regulations and technologies.


Airline First Officer Experience Requirements

The path to becoming an Airline First Officer generally starts with obtaining a Private Pilot’s License, followed by an Instrument Rating and then a Commercial Pilot’s License.

This rigorous training process takes several years and involves a significant amount of hands-on flying experience.

Entry-level First Officers typically have a minimum of 1500 flight hours, with a significant portion of this time spent as Pilot in Command.

This experience is often gained by working as a flight instructor, crop dusting, or flying for regional or small commercial airlines.

In addition to flight hours, candidates also need to demonstrate experience flying multi-engine aircrafts.

Many airlines also prefer candidates who have completed an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certification, which requires a minimum of 500 hours of cross-country flight time, 100 hours of night flying, and 75 hours of instrument operations.

First Officers with more than 3 years of experience often have progressed to flying larger aircraft or working for major airlines.

These professionals may also have experience in leadership roles, such as a Check Airman or Flight Instructor.

Those with more than 5 years of experience are typically seasoned pilots who have accumulated thousands of flight hours and have the necessary experience to potentially move into a Captain’s role.

They may also have spent time in other aviation roles such as Air Traffic Controller or Flight Operations Manager.


Airline First Officer Education and Training Requirements

Airline First Officers, also known as co-pilots, typically need a bachelor’s degree in aircraft operations, aviation, aeronautical engineering, or a related field.

To acquire the necessary practical skills and flight hours, they must complete flight training either independently or as part of their degree program.

This experience is crucial as airlines typically require prospective First Officers to have about 1,500 flight hours.

All pilots who are paid to transport passengers or cargo must hold a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In addition to the license, pilots also need an instrument rating, which involves additional testing and instruction to indicate competence in flying under instrument flight rules.

Many aspiring Airline First Officers opt to earn an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certification.

This advanced certification requires a minimum of 1,500 flight hours and additional written and practical examinations.

Furthermore, it’s common for Airline First Officers to undergo training on multi-engine aircraft and to earn a multi-engine rating.

Before they can fly, First Officers also need a First-Class Medical Certificate, which confirms that they have met the health and fitness requirements to safely operate an aircraft.

Although not a requirement, some First Officers pursue advanced training in specific types of aircraft or flight simulators to enhance their expertise and employability.

This continuous professional development demonstrates a commitment to their career and increases their chances of progression within the field.


Airline First Officer Salary Expectations

An Airline First Officer typically earns an average salary of $96,000 (USD) per year.

However, the actual salary can vary based on factors such as the airline company, years of experience, type of aircraft, and the geographical location.


Airline First Officer Job Description FAQs

What skills does an Airline First Officer need?

Airline First Officers need to have strong communication and teamwork skills as they must work closely with the captain and other crew members.

They should also have a keen attention to detail and problem-solving skills to handle unexpected situations during flight.

Good spatial awareness, excellent hand-eye coordination, and the ability to stay calm under pressure are also important skills for a First Officer.


Do Airline First Officers need a degree?

While it’s not mandatory, many airlines prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree.

However, the essential requirement is a valid Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL).

Some airlines also require a specific number of flying hours to qualify for the role of First Officer.


What should you look for in an Airline First Officer resume?

When evaluating a First Officer’s resume, you should check for a valid ATPL and medical certificate.

It’s also important to check for the required number of flying hours, often split between total flying hours and hours on a specific type of aircraft.

Experience in multi-crew operations and jet aircraft can be an advantage.

Other details to look out for include advanced flight training, simulator experiences, and previous roles in the aviation industry.


What qualities make a good Airline First Officer?

A good Airline First Officer is reliable, able to follow instructions, and make quick decisions under pressure.

They must have excellent teamwork skills and the ability to communicate effectively with the captain and other crew members.

They should also be committed to continuous learning as they need to stay updated with new aviation rules and technologies.


How challenging is it to become an Airline First Officer?

Becoming an Airline First Officer can be challenging due to the rigorous training and qualification requirements.

Aspiring First Officers need to pass numerous exams to earn their pilot’s license, accumulate a substantial number of flying hours, and often need to invest a significant amount of money into their training.

Furthermore, the job can be physically and mentally demanding due to irregular working hours, long flights, and the responsibility of ensuring passengers’ safety.



So there you have it.

Today, we’ve navigated through the skies to understand what it truly means to be an Airline First Officer.

And guess what?

It’s not just about piloting an aircraft.

It’s about ensuring safety and satisfaction, one flight at a time.

With our comprehensive Airline First Officer job description template and real-world examples, you’re ready to take off.

But why stop there?

Soar higher with our job description generator. It’s your ultimate tool for creating meticulous job listings or fine-tuning your resume to perfection.


Every flight is part of a greater journey.

Let’s conquer the skies. Together.

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