Life as contract pilot can be an interesting option. But there are a couple of things at first to consider:
- How is your English level? – Except that English is your mother tongue, you need to be able not only to achieve an ICAO 4 English level, also be able to maintain a normal level of conversation during an interview
- What is your flying experience? – Some people tend to think that in some places out there they are dying for pilots and they are willing to give you command of any airplane to save them. Reality is completely the opposite, after having been flying in almost every continent I can tell that even the poorest country has its professional pilots.
- What do you have to offer? – You will need either considerable flying experience or a type rating and actual flight time in a new generation aircraft.
For example, in some parts of Africa they are always looking for experienced pilots to fly GA aircraft’s used mostly in mining or oil exploration contracts, “Bush Pilots” or “African Pilots” are a selected and high demand group in Africa.
On the other part, most airlines are looking for professional pilots typed on new generation aircraft, like Airbus 320 or Boeing 737NG with actual time in type, generally 500 hrs. A few of those airlines offer to pay for your type rating and training, but they are requiring a minimum of 1000 hrs. jet time for a FO position. If you offer them to pay for your own type rating to get the job make sure you have a contract in your hands before making any investment, even this way is not guaranteed that later you get the job, I have seen some sad histories of guys that made the type rating at their own expense and found themselves with empty hands later.
My advice, if you want to explore new horizons outside of your country is get at first a type rating on either seat of a new generation aircraft with a minimum of 500 hrs and start applying later.
The best deal is to negotiate directly with the airline; you can do it through a recruitment agency, but again, be careful with term condition, there were some cases when conditions offered by the recruitment agency changed substantially with the actual airline.
If you have the spirit of adventure, all this clear and backpack ready, maybe is time to go see new horizons!
By Capt. Ivan