Projecting a professional image is a key requirement for achieving success as a commercial pilot. The National Transportation Safety Board considers pilot professionalism to be of such critical importance in the aviation field that it sponsored a 2010 forum specifically devoted to this topic. Appearance, decisiveness, initiative and an unselfish attitude are essential elements in building your reputation as a consummate professional.
Keeping your uniform clean and pressed can help you present a crisp, pulled-together image for your passengers and crew. Meticulous attention to detail will help you look your best on the job:
• Shoes and belts should match and should be in a dark or neutral shade. Shoes for both men and women should be polished and appropriate to the working environment.
• Hats, if worn, should be in good taste and be worn in the appropriate way.
• Neatly trimmed, clean hair is a must for both men and women in the aviation industry. Extreme fashion statements are to be avoided when choosing hairstyles. For men, a neatly groomed mustache is typically acceptable; a full beard or shaggy mustache is not.
• Visible piercings and tattoos are frowned upon in the professional environment. Single pierced earrings for women are an exception to this general rule.
• Duty uniforms must be clean, pressed and worn according to employer regulations.
Even when you are not on duty, making an effort to look your best and to dress conservatively can reinforce your professional image.
As a pilot, you will be called upon to make critical decisions on a daily basis. Thinking quickly and making the right calls is absolutely essential to ensure the safety of your passengers and crew. An assertive and calm demeanor is your best asset in making tough calls and can help you inspire added confidence in your crew as well.
Identifying problems quickly and taking steps independently to address these challenges is one of the hallmarks of a true professional in the aviation world. Pilots are called upon not only to perform their duties but to serve as leaders among the crew and within the industry. Living up to these high standards and working proactively to address small issues before they become big problems can help you succeed in the cockpit and in the corporate arena.
As a pilot, you will depend on your crew to support and facilitate your work. Maintaining an unselfish attitude and sharing your time and resources with these vital team members can help you build a rapport that can help you weather difficult times both in the air and on the ground.
Building a reputation for professionalism can open doors of opportunity for you as a pilot and can ensure your continued success in the fast-paced world of modern aviation.