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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:08 am 
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Just to give a little background:
I have always wanted to become a pilot since I was very little. However I ended up pursuing an education that was more stable (aka a plan B): Accounting. I now have a degree in accounting (Bachelor of Commerce), and a professional accounting designation (CMA - Certified Managment Accountant). I have been working for a few years as an Accountant. Now, at age 30 I am seriously considering pursuing my dream to become a commercial airline pilot.

I will be starting my PPL this year. My plan is to save and then get my CPL (incl muli IFR, night rating etc) within a year or two. I estimate this would put me at age 34: fresh out of flight school with 250 hours looking for my first ramp job (expecting to fly right away is not realistic). Assuming I find a job in a reasonable amount of time: I estimate I would spend 6 months on the ramp, then 4 years flying up North. Perhaps moving up to a small jet company for a year or two (to gain jet turbine time), I would be looking at applying for WestJet at age 40 with between 3000-4000 hours, and my ATPL.

I have a few concerns/questions:
1) Is it too late for me to make this career change? I don't want to put in years of my life buildling hours only to be turned down by a major airline (WJ, AC) because of my age. I know there are other options out there besides WestJet, however I just want to have a realistic expectation of what my future career options might be with respect to working for a major carrier given my age, experience and education etc. How much of a role does pilot age play in the hiring decisions? What are the most important criteria recruiters look for?

2) Will my education in accounting (being a certified professional accountant) help me in the aviation world? Will it help me in getting my first job, will it help me at WestJet? I have heard that companies who hire low time pilots might find me over qualified, but that major carriers such as WestJet will look favourably on it.

3) How much does it matter where I do my flight training since I already have a degree? I am considering attending a traditional flight school. However I know that there are Universities such which offer aviation diplomas along with your CPL. Universities take longer, are more expensive, and do not offer much flexibility. I am wondering if it is worth it to attend a University given my situation? I am leaning more toward the flexibility and lower cost of a traditional flight school since I can complete my training faster, and I already hold a University degree.

4) Assuming that I do manage to make it to WestJet in my late thirties, what could I expect from my career at WestJet? Can someone paint a picture of what a career path would be like for someone hired at age 40? With only 25 years before retirement age (65), is aiming for Capt on the Boeing 737 reasonable? Does WestJet have the same seniority system that Air Canada has? Does your ability to move up onto bigger aircraft depend on your years of service or your number of flight hours?

6) I am very interested to hear advice given my situation from anyone who really knows and is currently involved in the aviation industry. Any insight from pilots who have followed my path would also be very helpful. I am hearing mixed reviews about what its like to work at AC vs WestJet.

Thanks.



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:26 am 
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Find out what you like an do more of it !!! Heard that the other day !!!

Just a thought, if you go to a traditional flight school, go and get a loan for say $30 to $40,000 say a line of credit and pay on it as you go and draw on it as you go. All of your flight training to a licence is tax deductable as long as you are a registered student at a recogonized flight school .... You are an accountant so that one is your project.

Note: do not give a flight school a ton of money up front .... pay as you go.... and do not tell them you have $30,000 to spend ... Just keeping paying as you go.

I would get an instructors rating right away as opposed to a ramp job.... Nothing wrong with working the ramp. Maybe you can go and be an accountant at some place like Bearskiin, or Perimeter (not named for any reason other than an example)

I did take an Aero Course 2 years ago and the Instructor works at Air Canada as a pilot ... he did mention that Air Canada did hire some guy at the young age of 52. Don't know that for certain ... but that is what he said ... so I will take as fact. So that is one take on it.

What ever you do and what ever you decide ... the sunsets are always prettier in aviation than accounting. Good Luck....



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:38 am 
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rapid602 wrote:
Find out what you like an do more of it !!! Heard that the other day !!!

I did take an Aero Course 2 years ago and the Instructor works at Air Canada as a pilot ... he did mention that Air Canada did hire some guy at the young age of 52.

What ever you do and what ever you decide ... the sunsets are always prettier in aviation than accounting. Good Luck....


Thanks for the great comments rapid602. Its comments like this that give me hope.


rapid602 wrote:
I would get an instructors rating right away as opposed to a ramp job.... Nothing wrong with working the ramp. Maybe you can go and be an accountant at some place like Bearskiin, or Perimeter (not named for any reason other than an example)


I considered the instructor rating route, however I am a little worried about how long it will take to build hours as an instructor (time to get instructor rating + amount of flying done) versus working the ramp for 6 months, then doing some serious flying. As you can imagine, I'm a little short on time!



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:27 pm 
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Hey, welcome to the forums. I'm going to try my best in answering some of your questions.

Quote:
1) Is it too late for me to make this career change? I don't want to put in years of my life buildling hours only to be turned down by a major airline (WJ, AC) because of my age. I know there are other options out there besides WestJet, however I just want to have a realistic expectation of what my future career options might be with respect to working for a major carrier given my age, experience and education etc. How much of a role does pilot age play in the hiring decisions? What are the most important criteria recruiters look for?


Too late for a career change? No. But the way you are looking at it already demonstrates lack of research in the industry which is cool because you're new to this. While airline jobs seem to be the more common goal pilot's shoot for in aviation, you will quickly come to notice that lifestyle in aviation will beat anything. A beech 1900 travels 300kts, a 737 travels 440kts, an A340 travels 470kts, and a Citation XL travels 550kts. At the end of the day, it's a piece of metal with one or more engines attached to it. Pulling on the yoke or joystick makes the plane go up, and pushing on it makes it go down. One of the planes will be able to get you to a destination faster, and other's maybe not so much. You will quickly realize that a plane is simply another plane. The sooner you realize this, the greater your chance of success as your decision on how to alter your career will differ than simply chasing metal. If after chasing lifestyle you NOW consider WJA/AC to be your goal, then you've clearly made a good choice. But please do yourself a favour and don't enter the industry with expectations that AC/WJA is where you HAVE to end up because you want to fly a 737 that has autopilot activated within the first minute of being airborne and usually not disconnected until the last minute or two of your flight. This kind of flying will really get to you if all you did was chase metal. If you enjoy the lifestyle that flying around for WestJet gives you, then you'll be a happy camper! The realistic view is that you'll make your career into whatever you want it to be. 25 years is a lot of years. I have a friend who is a captain at sunwing right now and he didn't start flying until he was 28. You being at 30 isn't much of a difference. As for what companies are looking for, it will differ as each offers its own diverse company culture - but for the most part, anyone can fly an air plane. It's your ability to be a forward thinker, leadership in a two crew environment, and having a good head on your shoulders that allows you to exercise common sense that gives you leads to be successful at this. You will be making mistakes, even at the so called airline level if you decide that it's for you. It's not about the mistakes, it's about how you recover from them and what you take from it to prevent that mistake from recurring. WestJet knows that you will not get a long with every human being in the flight deck. They know that you are a human and will have made mistakes. I'm sure they want to see if you can be honest with yourself, because that speaks volumes when they are going to one day trust you to take their 737 to Montego Bay and back safely. Hope this gives you a bit of perspective to answer your generic question in that paragraph.

Quote:
2) Will my education in accounting (being a certified professional accountant) help me in the aviation world? Will it help me in getting my first job, will it help me at WestJet? I have heard that companies who hire low time pilots might find me over qualified, but that major carriers such as WestJet will look favourably on it.


I think WestJet accounts only a couple percent towards the hiring matrix when it comes towards post secondary. A matrix where EFIS, 737NG, FMC, 4500, 500mpic time weighs into the majority of the percentile that scores you an interview. A/C has a bigger value towards the degree, but with the way it's looking right now, is A/C really a place that you see yourself investing a career into at the moment? After 10 to 15 years of being a pilot you have to settle for a pay cut to live in one of the most expensive cities? Food for thought.

Quote:
3) How much does it matter where I do my flight training since I already have a degree? I am considering attending a traditional flight school. However I know that there are Universities such which offer aviation diplomas along with your CPL. Universities take longer, are more expensive, and do not offer much flexibility. I am wondering if it is worth it to attend a University given my situation? I am leaning more toward the flexibility and lower cost of a traditional flight school since I can complete my training faster, and I already hold a University degree.


Go to a flight school that has the reputation to have instructor's that strive towards seeing you excel. If finances aren't of concern, try getting a class 2 or 1 instructor who is well respected to teach you how to fly. You won't regret it, and at your age you want to be as efficient as possible - and getting the most bang for your buck would be desirable.

Quote:
4) Assuming that I do manage to make it to WestJet in my late thirties, what could I expect from my career at WestJet? Can someone paint a picture of what a career path would be like for someone hired at age 40? With only 25 years before retirement age (65), is aiming for Capt on the Boeing 737 reasonable? Does WestJet have the same seniority system that Air Canada has? Does your ability to move up onto bigger aircraft depend on your years of service or your number of flight hours?


This question proves that my answer in why you are picking airlines has a big part to do with the "equipment" you fly rather than the lifestyle you get. I don't fly at neither airline. I get a serious good vibe from Dave Pobran's team over at WestJet - he showed me around and treated me with absolute respect when I was a 250 hour noob and honestly really sold me on the WestJet Product. I have a lot of friends at WestJet, just like any company they have their concerns but they are extremely happy and aren't drinking the kool-aid. I have friends that got to the airlines and looked around and asked themselves, "was this seriously what I was in such a rush to get to?" And no, if you want to go WJA, I believe their current upgrades are sitting around 12 years? give or take? So at 40 that would make you a captain around 52, and fly for another 13 years?

Quote:
6) I am very interested to hear advice given my situation from anyone who really knows and is currently involved in the aviation industry. Any insight from pilots who have followed my path would also be very helpful. I am hearing mixed reviews about what its like to work at AC vs WestJet.


My biggest advice is really do your research. I have a feeling that you are walking into the industry with a set path in mind (not faulting you because most people are in your exact shoes when they want to first start out). If I had a penny for every time a career progression inquiry was derived towards WJA/AC I'd be a billionaire. Really try and see what lifestyle it is you want. You may find that the lifestyle of being home every night is the one you wish to pursue. Perhaps a lifestyle where you do a lot of overseas flying, or the lifestyle of doing a lot of regional flying, corporate flying, charter flying, instructing. Who knows man! And if anything, get a good quality of flight time under your belt. Try everything - don't be necessarily narrow minded towards making the airlines. While it is a fantastic goal to strive towards, make sure you are picking the airlines for the RIGHT reasons, not the wrong ones. Once again, an airplane is an airplane and ultimately flies under the same principle. It's the life you have surrounding the cockpit you call "my office" that will make it worthwhile or not.

Congratulations on finally pursuing this and I wish you all the best! 8)



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:51 am 
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Had enough of working IT when I was 28.. planned on only getting a private license for fun... well that got out of control :shock:

I was fortunate got jobs almost right away even in the middle of the whole 911 deal.. was gaining nothing but multi pic from 600 hours on, so I got lucky!

Now the funny thing is I left the IT industry, and on top of flying and training I do now, Im responsible for alot of computer based training! LOL go figure...

Anyways, alot of its luck, but its not too late... and I am happy to say my aviation salary currently blows my last IT salary out of the water :D



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:31 pm 
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I'm trying to do the opposite of you!

I got into commercial flying because: I don't mind being gone from home often, I want to travel often and I love flying an airplane (physically flying it...that's an important distinction).

I now have a young family and my goals have changed to: I want to be home every night, I want a set work schedule and I still love flying an airplane physically!

Small differences but big repercussions. Looking back at the handful of years that I flew commercially I have many fond memories and I miss the work big-time. But my goals have switched so much that I couldn't imagine being gone from home for 2-3 days at a time multiple times a month. Having a set schedule (such as weekends/holidays off) are a big deal for me now because my spouse usually has weekends off.

I have also lucked out on the financial side of things: when I stopped flying I was making less than 35K and within a year of changing jobs I found myself working in a supervisory capacity making 60K...with a set schedule. I was gunning for AC/WS and told myself that making 6 figures working 15 days a month would be the life and yet I turned a blind eye to what lay between now and then.

If I could find a flying job where I made somewhere north of 55K, was home every night, had most (gotta be realistic here) weekends off and somewhat of a set schedule, I would go back to flying. Unfortunately I'm not in a position right now to do that, but who knows where life will take me!

Best of luck in your endeavor and I hope you enjoy whatever you set your mind to.

-Mike

edit: I know of one chap who got into flying in his 30s and was gunning for WS. He's now an FO with WS and loving it a lot. I think he was very close to 40 when WS took him.



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 8:29 am 
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Did the career change,first job just before my 32nd bday. Captain at Westjet at 40. Its all in the timing. I set my sights on a turbo captain in a major center by my 40th,that was the long term goal. The rest was a bonus.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 10:50 am 
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Batman wrote:
Did the career change,first job just before my 32nd bday. Captain at Westjet at 40. Its all in the timing. I set my sights on a turbo captain in a major center by my 40th,that was the long term goal. The rest was a bonus.



Thats very inspiring. I hope my timing is right. I'm looking at applying for my first job in about 3 years.

How did your path look? Did you jump around alot? Did you find your age was an issue along the way?



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:53 pm 
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My advise would be not to piss around too long. I personally think a 3 year time frame to get things going is not the way to do it. Bite the bullet, take the plunge and get it done. Take the training on like a job and you should be able to wrap the whole thing up in less than a year. Trust me its less expensive this way and pressures you to find that 1st job asap. Ask yourself this: Would I be happy flying say a beech 1900 as captain somewhere south of 60 as an ultimate goal? If the answer is no then maybe you should give it some more thought cause theres a good chance thats where it ends. If this is an appealing end result like I thought it was, go for it. That way anything above and beyond is a bonus. I believe that the age I was helped me get both of my pre airline jobs. Anyways all the best, oh yeah my advantage was no wife or kids and a shitty paying job to begin with so I was used to living on crappy 1st flying job wages.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:59 am 
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cj555 - in this industry, I've noticed that situations like Batman's (first job to WJ in ~8 years) is NOT a typical scenario. Very happy for him/her, regardless.

You'll find a few types of answers here: those from the eternal optimists and those from the pessimists, with a few middle of the road replies tossed in for good measure.

In my case, this is my 15th year of flying for a living and WJ still isn't calling me. I did, however, turn down the AC interview (as mentioned on another thread). I would love to work for WJ, be it in the 737 end or the upstart regional. Having said that, I am relatively happy where I am except the wages could be better. C'est la vie.

Things are happening but this industry has some very severe ups and downs. I hope you land on the upside. Good luck :)

Oh, and as an aside - age has *some* bearing for *some* jobs, not all. I as well have heard of individuals over 40 in ground schools for the majors, and some in their 50s.



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:19 pm 
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Quote:
I've noticed that situations like Batman's (first job to WJ in ~8 years) is NOT a typical scenario. Very happy for him/her, regardless.


Big plus 1 and am very glad to see that it worked out for Batman. But in 09 when I met Dave he said upgrades were around 7 years and now it looks like it's closer to 10 or 12?

Either way! Keep your eye on the prize and the rest will find it's way to be figured out!

Cheers! 8)



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