How to become a pilot in Nigeria

As children, a lot of us dreamt of becoming pilots, flying aeroplanes and travelling the world. However, as the reality of adulthood seeps in, our childhood dreams become discarded. Becoming a pilot may not be feasible or cost-effective for most, and some may find a new passion to pursue. But there are still some who hold on to their childhood dream of flying aeroplanes and there are others who grow up to desire a career as a pilot. Whichever category you belong to, as long as becoming a pilot is your goal, then you are at the right place. In this article, I will outline all you need to know about becoming a pilot in Nigeria. 

Who is a pilot? 

An aircraft pilot is a professional who is trained to fly an aircraft. They do this by operating the directional flight controls of an aircraft. They work in tandem with other aircrew members including navigators and flight engineers to operate and navigate the aircraft. 

Pilots in Nigeria are a big deal. They are among the highest paid in Nigeria. However, becoming a pilot is not an easy process. The high tuition in aviation schools is enough to dissuade many, and the responsibility of pilots is quite heavy. Pilots are responsible for the lives and safety of the people and cargo aboard the plane, so they must be reliable and skilled. 

How to Become a Pilot in Nigeria

There are several stages you will pass through before you become a pilot in Nigeria, and they include: 

1. Complete secondary school

Attending secondary school is compulsory for many careers in Nigeria, including those wishing to become pilots. When deciding on the subject combination for your WASSCE, your core subjects should include English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Geography. 

2. Complete a bachelor’s degree

It will be beneficial but not compulsory to complete a bachelor’s degree in a field related to science, engineering, or aviation.

A lot of airline companies would prefer to hire someone who has completed a bachelor’s degree than someone who does not, however, that doesn’t mean that you can not become a certified pilot without a bachelor’s degree. 

3. Attend aviation school 

There are about 40 aviation schools in Nigeria, and each of them will help you achieve your goal of becoming a pilot. Aviation schools are quite expensive; most schools charge over 7 million Naira per year.

This is because aviation requires heavy practice which will be done in an aircraft or simulation which is expensive. If you are looking for affordable options, then try government aviation schools because they are funded by the government, they are usually cheaper. 

To be admitted into an aviation school in Nigeria, you have to be at least 16 years old, have an O’level certificate with at least 5 credits and present a certificate of medical fitness. 

Aviation schools could last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the type of certification you want to obtain and your school of choice. Before choosing an aviation school to attend, make sure it is approved by the Federal Aviation Association. 

Recommended: Best aviation schools in Nigeria

4. Obtain certificates 

Flying an aircraft is a big deal, so you will need to acquire various certifications to be qualified. You must obtain both medical and aviation certificates.

The medical certificates will prove that you are mentally, emotionally and physically fit to fly aircraft. There are three stages; first class, second class, and third class, with the first class being the highest and the third class being the lowest. 

The aviation certificates will be obtained during your time in an aviation school. It is a step-by-step process which will be awarded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). They include: 

  • Private Pilot Certificate (PPC): You must be at least 17 years of age and have accumulated at least 40 hours of flight training, including 10 hours of solo flight time before you can be awarded this certificate. This certificate permits you to fly a private plane in Nigeria. 
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate (CPC): This certificate is required to become an Air Transport Pilot (ATP), eligible to fly commercial planes. You need at least 200 flight hours under your belt, be at least 18 years old, and have a recent first-class Medical Certificate to be awarded this certificate. 
  • Instrument Rating (IR): This attests to your ability to properly use instruments found in the cockpit to safely navigate an aircraft in bad weather or with low visibility. 
  • Multi-Engine Rating (MER): This certificate awards you the qualification to fly multi-engine aircraft. It can be obtained separately but is usually awarded with a PPC or CPC. 
  • Airline Transport Pilot License: Pilots with this license are qualified to fly commercial aircraft, along with crew members and passengers onboard. This certificate is given to the most experienced pilots and it certifies you to become a Captain. You must be at least 21 years old to obtain this certification, hold a current first-class Medical Certificate and have at least 1500 hours of flight experience. 

    This is typically obtained through an airline cadet pilot program, which is often sponsored by airlines and students are guaranteed jobs by the airline that sponsors them once they have completed their program. 
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI): This certificate gives you the qualification to become a flight instructor. Though you don’t necessarily need this qualification to fly aircraft, teaching others might allow you to accumulate flight hours which will qualify you for other certifications. 

Becoming a pilot in the Nigerian Airforce requires a different process from the above. You will need to join the Nigerian Defense Academy after secondary school and you will be given aviation training there. The cost of becoming a pilot in the NDA is much cheaper than attending aviation schools because it is funded by the government. However, after your training, you will have to work for the government for at least 12 years before you can apply to work for commercial airlines. 

5. Obtain a Pilot Type Rating 

Obtaining a Pilot Type Rating will give you a better chance of getting better jobs. Though you can still work as a pilot with a CPC, not a lot of airlines will employ you. Pilot Type Rating means getting a license to drive a particular type of aircraft. Some airlines sponsor Pilot Type Rating training to their pilots but you may not be so lucky as to get hired by an airline that will sponsor you. 

A pilot without a type rating earns an average of N400,000 per year, while a pilot with a type rating earns around N800,000 per year. 

6. Apply for jobs 

As a certified aircraft pilot, you can choose to either work for an aviation company, work for a private aircraft owner, or join the Nigerian Airforce. The aviation industry in Nigeria is quite large with more than 20 domestic airlines, so there are many opportunities for pilots. 

After getting your certification, you will have to work as a co-pilot for a few years before you can be promoted to first officer or captain. 


The aviation industry is quite profitable in Nigeria, and becoming a pilot is the perfect avenue to tap into the vast resources of the industry. Pilots are paid very well in Nigeria, with a starting salary of at least N200,000 per month. On average, pilots earn more than N500,000 per month, with the potential of earning more than N2,000,000 per month. 

The high tuition fees of aviation fees might dissuade you, but becoming a pilot is a rewarding and thrilling career that will allow you to travel the world while earning six figures per month. 

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Habibat Musa

Habibat Musa

Habibat Musa is a content writer with She writes predominantly on topics related to education, career and business. She is an English language major with keen interest in career growth and development.

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