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Guest estevesm

Changing careers...

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I've always dreamed of being a pilot. However, different circunstances put me in the IT field (which I also like).But lately I found myself wondering how hard it would be (if at all possible) to switch careers at age 30...What do you guys/gals think? Is it possible to change careers and still make a decent living being a pilot? How about the job market for pilots now?RgdsMarcelo

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Geez, what did I do fall asleep and "sleep-type" a message in the forum? I'm in the exact same boat here, except Marcelo has two extra years on me.Hope we don't end up competing for the same job! :-)In addition to what he asked, I'm also curious about the timeline to be expected from the first day of flight lessons to the first paycheck...

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I did some similar research, and unfortunatly, I decided that for me, the "leap" wasn't feasible.You have to account for the fact that you need all the primary training- your PPL, CPL, multi-engine rating, etc...Then, you will probably need to be a flight instructor for several years to build up enough hours to try our for a small carrier.Once you do have enough hours, you will need to find a job with a carrier. With your prop-only experience and minimal hours, you can expect either a corporate pilot job, or one with a small commuter airline.After a few (or many) years there, you will have enough hours to apply to one of the mainline carriers, as a FO on a small jet. From there, it's a matter of gaining enough hours, experience, and seniority to upgrade.Expect this whole process to be a drain on your family life, your personal time, and your pocketbook. However, since the fun of the journey is in the trip, not the destination, all this may appeal to you.However, also consider that the industry is in a lull right now, and it is difficult for even experienced pilots to find jobs. When the industry does emerge from this dip, you can expect that high paying pilot positions with the majors to be fewer, as the LCC's gain in size and power.Anyway, it was all very offputting for me. I am still, however, strongly considering a career with ATC. You can still fit in under the 40 years age limit, and there is no shortage of jobs in this field. The FAA and Nav Canada are screaming for more recruits. But, I'm still drawn towards television production, so my mind is far from made up.

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I have always encouraged people to follow their dreams and if someone wanted to fly I told them to go for it. The past few years have changed that. The industry is in the worse shape it has ever been in. There are a countless number of pilots on furlough and these pilots may not even be recalled for 4+ years because of the restructuring and scaling back of the airlines. Regionals are even furloughing. I actually left flying a few years ago because I could not afford to live on the poverty wages. I have 2500 hours right now and would love to get back full time but I'm unsure if I will even be able to do it and I'm 29. If I do, it may be corporate. Keep in mind that training will run you $20-$40k depending on where you do it. You will make maybe $15k a year as a flight instructor. If you are able to get a charter or cargo gig that might put you in the $15-30k range. First year at regionals is around $20k year. Although pilots at the majors still make a good living (those that still have a job), many are taking cuts of up to 30%. I hate painting a dismal picture but it is very tough out there right now. I have many friends that fly for the airlines and several are looking at getting out altogether. 3 of them are furloughed and cannot find another flying job. The industry should turn around eventually but the airlines will emerge as a different business. If you want it, go for it but be prepared for the negative aspects of the aviation business. I've actually been very happy being able to just fly for fun! Good luck.

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Hi Marcelo,Don't know for sure, but for as far as I know, Cargo airliners are expanding, because of the increased demand for freight flights.So maybe a carreer @ FEDEX or another cargo company instead of flying commmercially?Regards,:-waveEvert------------------------------Visit the Holland Aviation Siteand learn more about aviation in Holland!!! http://fly.to/hollandaviationsite------------------------------

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Do it if you think you can AFFORD it. The price you will pay for it is to forgo the ability to support a family, have a career with growth potential, and a comfortable retirement. If you are independently wealthy or have a spouse that can provide complete support, then go for it. But approach it with the mindset that you are done with your real career and are now embarking on a post-retirement full time recreational hobby.Unfortunately, the slump the industry is in, is not a cyclical slump like in previous years. What you are witnessing now is a fundamental change in the basics of the industry. Just as fundamental changes affected the industry with the introduction of jet aircraft and two pilot crews, you are seeing a fundamental change away from the traditional mainline airlines being the primary transportation to that of the smalljet providers being the primary transportation. What this means is that the jobs are really not ever going to come back at the mainline carriers.Concurent with that, is the transformation of the linear relationship between the mainline and it's regional affiliate to that of a buyer and a commodity seller. What this means is that the fundamental pressure now is that of decreasing costs and wages of all concerned. Even minimum wage pilots at the regionals are being pressured to go lower. It also means there is even less job security since the jobs can come and go at the whim of a deal.And if you are laid off, you can't go anywhere else, since the seniority system means you start at the very bottom of any other airline. There is no lateral movement like the rest of the working world. A furloughed Boeing 737 captain will have to start over at another airline being an FO on a Beech 1900.Not to mention there is at least five years worth of drunken hiring that are on the streets on furlough right now. Each one of those pilots will have to be offered their position back before anybody new can be interviewed.So you can do the math for yourself. Spend $30,000 on training over the next two years to get your ratings. At that point you are nowhere near competitive for a job, even in good times. Spend another two-three years flight instructing and be paid minimum wage. Or you can spend another $10,000-$20,000 at a pay for training deal where you pay for the priveledge to sit right seat in a turboprop airliner.After that, perhaps the retirements will induce some slow upward movement in the industry. At which point you can probably get hired to a smalljet provider, again making minimum wage (@$1500/mo). Chances are, if all goes well, that will most likely be the airline you retire from, since the majors are trending towards significantly decreasing the size of their fleets and they have a tremendous pool of furloughees to fill any vacant slots with. Only those at the top of the regionals right now will probably have any chance of making it to the majors in this generation.

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That's what I heard from pilots I know. Lots of money at the beginning, working as an instructor to build hours, and look for flying mail and small cargo planes... it's a long way to the left seat of a jet liner.... :(That amazes me since the job itself requires you to study weather, aerodynamics, have a good notion of mechanics, practice not to mention the responsibility over the cargo and passengers... how come, then, pilots have low wages??? I sit in front of a computer 9 to 5, some times I do something other than browsing AVSIM and still get paid more than pilots... isn't that amazing?One option would be winning the lottery and buying a plane (of course it's not that easy...)Another will be starting a small airline company, either flying cargo or passengers in charter flights... I'll have to look at the business model for this.

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>Do it if you think you can AFFORD it. The price you will pay>for it is to forgo the ability to support a family, have a>career with growth potential, and a comfortable retirement. >If you are independently wealthy or have a spouse that can>provide complete support, then go for it. But approach it>with the mindset that you are done with your real career and>are now embarking on a post-retirement full time recreational>hobby.I like the "spouse support" thing... :-) Hey, let's start a campaign where our spouses make 6-fig salaries and we go flying during the day... :-halo >>Unfortunately, the slump the industry is in, is not a cyclical>slump like in previous years. What you are witnessing now is>a fundamental change in the basics of the industry. Just as>fundamental changes affected the industry with the>introduction of jet aircraft and two pilot crews, you are>seeing a fundamental change away from the traditional mainline>airlines being the primary transportation to that of the>smalljet providers being the primary transportation. What>this means is that the jobs are really not ever going to come>back at the mainline carriers.That's what I thought: how do I, a beginner, compete with pilots with thousands of hours in big airliners?>>Concurent with that, is the transformation of the linear>relationship between the mainline and it's regional affiliate>to that of a buyer and a commodity seller. What this means is>that the fundamental pressure now is that of decreasing costs>and wages of all concerned. Even minimum wage pilots at the>regionals are being pressured to go lower. It also means>there is even less job security since the jobs can come and go>at the whim of a deal.That's sad... we will end up having 100% of the pilots coming from the military (this is not bad, but I think civilians should also get a chance)>>And if you are laid off, you can't go anywhere else, since the>seniority system means you start at the very bottom of any>other airline. There is no lateral movement like the rest of>the working world. A furloughed Boeing 737 captain will have>to start over at another airline being an FO on a Beech 1900.>>Not to mention there is at least five years worth of drunken>hiring that are on the streets on furlough right now. Each>one of those pilots will have to be offered their position>back before anybody new can be interviewed.wow...>>So you can do the math for yourself. Spend $30,000 on>training over the next two years to get your ratings. At that>point you are nowhere near competitive for a job, even in good>times. Spend another two-three years flight instructing and>be paid minimum wage. Or you can spend another>$10,000-$20,000 at a pay for training deal where you pay for>the priveledge to sit right seat in a turboprop airliner.>I guess my "lottery" strategy is becoming the only way.... :(>After that, perhaps the retirements will induce some slow>upward movement in the industry. At which point you can>probably get hired to a smalljet provider, again making>minimum wage (@$1500/mo). Chances are, if all goes well, that>will most likely be the airline you retire from, since the>majors are trending towards significantly decreasing the size>of their fleets and they have a tremendous pool of furloughees>to fill any vacant slots with. Only those at the top of the>regionals right now will probably have any chance of making it>to the majors in this generation.Great post! I still feel that I could do something that would make me fly airplanes and at least break-even... I just have to put more sugar and oxygen into my brain... ;-)

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Hey Evert!Personally, I don't dream of flying big-iron with those stripes on my shoulder and spending one night in Paris and another in New York... (ok, this is awesome, but not a requirement... ;-)I would be happy flying ANY plane, piston or turboprop, singles or twins doesn't matter. As long as you have the fun of flying them around that's enough.A Fedex or UPS would be OK but I wonder how hard it is to get hired by these companies...Rgds!

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Hey Flic74These are really low figures... that's said for such a wonderful job...I wouldn't mind flying cargo or charter. Actually, I have a question: is flying cargo or charter worse/better than an airline job? I'm an ignorant, so I don't know the difference...With training costing that much, how can a pilot afford these things?? man...

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Yeah... I guess I'm not the only one... maybe all of us "wanna-be" pilots could open an airline......at least dreaming is still free...

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marcelo,you can always reenter the it industry. do what makes you happy and not worry about the $$$, your happiness is worth way more than any dollar figure (although $$$ does help).i'd recommend going to a local flight school and getting your private pilot license. think of it as a $5-6k insurance policy. if you like it then reconsider where you are.those that want to fly freight in a piston, be up on your ifr skills. those check-haulers will fly through ANYTHING (t-storms included).

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Pilots start out with very low wages indeed.Many instructor pilots need to hold 2nd jobs to make ends meet, their pay is that low.Only when you're reached a decent seniority level in a larger airline do you get salaries in the hundred thousand dollar a year range and that will take 10 years or so from the time you start your journey.In the meantime you do have to spend $100K+ on training and exams out of your own pocket from an income that's likely a lot lower than what you were used to before you became a professional pilot (so you're likely seriously in debt by now and quite a bit of that higher salary goes towards paying off that debt).Mind that that lower salary is still high compared to what a receptionist at a company or a storeclerk makes, but is low compared to recent IT wages (which are sadly coming down very fast...).

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All I can say is, how bad do you want it? I'm now 28 years old and just finishing my commercial IFR. I don't care if I ever make it to a Boeing or an Airbus... I just want to fly. That's what it's all about. So I suggest, if you want it enough, GO FOR IT! Cause you only live once and it's all to precious to waste on a job you hate.BTW, A good friend of mine in school is 36 years old and loving every minute of it. He's in the same boat. Just wants to do what he loves so much!

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I don't know about reentering the IT industry (it's already pretty hard to stay in it right now...). I will start to take a look at the flight schools around here. When you say 5-6K you mean for the whole PPL process? (rental, instr. fee, ground school, flight hours, exam fees...)That's not bad...Is is really true that freight pilots fly thru t-storms??? I thought that is suicide... :-hang

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I'm happy for you! I share the same line of thinking... doesn't matter what you fly, just fly. I actually find flying big jets a bit boring, with all that automated stuff. In FS2K2, I usually fly a Caravan, which is slow enough so I can learn things easily and the only time I use the autopilot is in cruise.About my job, I don't hate it. However, if I could make the same $$ being a pilot (no matter big iron or small single) I would switch as of yesterday :-)

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Well don't expect that kind of money right away. I'm going from a good stable job to an industry that seems to be in turmoil most of the time and will make less money starting out. But in the end, it will all be worth it! There is no place like an office in the sky...

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There's an old saying that no one ever gets rich in aviation. Anything to do with airplanes requires huge investments in capital equipment, maintenance, regulatory compliance, fuel, etc. before the pilot even gets to the gate. If you want to fly, do it because you love it ... not cause you want to get rich. If financial security is your goal, stick with what you're doing now.That said, there may be other ways to enjoy flying without making a wholesale career change. I'm currently working on my Commercial/CFI with the thought of instructing part time. I've got a friend who's Chief Instructor at an aerobatic school and he's in heaven flying a Pitts and a Decathlon all day long. One of my instructors was a full time software engineer who arranged his schedule to put his 40 hours into 3 days each week and he taught aerobatics on his days off.A lot of aviation companies encourage their employees to fly and some will partially reimburse flight training costs. Some companies will reimburse the cost personal flying for business just as they would give you mileage for your car.Just because you can't be a professional pilot, doesn't mean you can't persue your love of flying!! Get creative and you'll find a lot of other options open to you.Good luck ..

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I have 10 hours in a 172 that I got as a student in 1984. At the time, I did not solo but got close. I did, however, earn my private pilot certificate in FS2000 and completed at least half of the instrument rating training but have not taken the check ride. Believe it or not, while I like FS2002, which is much better, I still prefer the flight training in FS2000. This summer, I am going to finish the instrument rating and the commerical rating. By the end of the summer to early fall, I should be completely finished with my ATP rating through FS2000. After I complete the course and print out my ATP certificate, I am going to attach it to my application with Delta Airlines for no less that a left seater in a 737-300. I live about 80 miles from ATL where Delta is based. I figure after a couple of years of doing that, I should be highly competitive for a left seater job in a 757/767. If they can give my an international route in a 767-300, I might just stay there. I can't wait!

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Forgive my ignorance, but will the fs2000 atp certificate be of any validity to Delta? I don't know if they will consider that as a "plus" in your resume... interesting...In my opinion, you might get a right seat in a twin turboprop or small jet... but you never know... I don't think it's that easy to get a captain job right upfront.Blue skiesMarcelo

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Marcelo,He was just being sarcastic (I hope!)

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It will be a piece of cake. No problem! Completing the FS2000/2002 ATP qualifications is more than enough to secure a left seat in a heavy. It would not surprise me if they offered me a 777-200 left seater job to begin with. However, due to cutbacks and the like, I am expecting them to offer me a 737-300 captain's job since my ATP training will have occurred in the FS2000 B737-400, an aircraft that Delta does not have.

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Ok, I get it... :-)Well, I have a couple of hours in the right seat of a King Air, but that's only during take off and climb phases. I had to leave the airplane every time at 13000 feet because I was bored...

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Seriously Marcelo,I don't know if I would make aviation a career choice this late in the game unless I won the lottery or was independently wealthy. From my understanding, if you can program computers and have full knowledge if Windows98/ME/2000/XP, then you should potentially be in the big bucks, or so it is commonly believe by lay persons such as myself. So, if that's the kind of IT that you are in, then make big bucks and fly for pleasure. How is the IT world right now for programmer wizzards?Robb

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