Career change advice needed

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dazednconfused
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Career change advice needed

Post by dazednconfused »

I'm 33. I have an office job for an energy company in YYC. I make a good wage/benefits etc. I'm tired of climbing the corporate ladder. I've always wanted to be a pilot but somehow took the more traditional university --> corporate job route. I have my private license but not many hours. I dont have kids and I'm not married.

My question is: If i jump into flying now, build up time either buying a 172 and flying the heck out of it, maybe get 500 TT, CPL/IFR etc, what are some reasonable next steps? Dispatch for a year or two? Ramp? I realize I'm probably too late for AC and WJ. I'm fairly aggressive though and know i can get my foot in the door, and flying charter/air ambulance etc would be great with me. But, maybe none of this is reasonable. I dont know how the industry views older entry level candidates - and where i might end up five years from now.


Thanks for any advice you might have.
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Last edited by dazednconfused on Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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yyz monkey
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by yyz monkey »

dazednconfused wrote:I'm fairly aggressive though and know i can get my foot in the door, and flying charter/air ambulance etc would be great with me.
If you're "fairly aggressive" why settle for a ramp position with a license in hand?

I'd say stick with your current job. Build your hours. Get all the add-ons. Move to a job that pays comparable to what you're making when you're ready.

But do yourself a favour and don't settle for a ramp job when that time comes.
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Last edited by yyz monkey on Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ditar
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by ditar »

I don't think you are too old. I know of people who started at later ages than you and did just fine. Your main problem is going to be giving up your good wage/benefits to slog it out as a low timer for the first couple of years. As for the five year question, I went from student pilot to King Air captain in five years. So given the right set of circumstances you can achieve something similar before you're 40, which is quite respectable.
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Hedley
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Hedley »

Don't quit your day job. Use it to finance your flying career. Pay off debts and loans while you are at it. Drive an older, fully paid off car. I hope you're not carrying a crippling mortgage. Stay single.

Get your PPL/night/CPL as fast as possible. Time is fleeting. You can either do that by the hour at a flight school, or take the big risk and get your own airplane. Unless you know what you are doing - or if you have a partner that does - don't buy an airplane. You will get hosed, because you will buy a pretty paint job with problems.

Get your class 4 flight instructor rating ASAP and start instructing evenings and weekends, hopefully at a busy school where you don't spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for a customer.

If you want to go the twin route, get your multi and multi-ifr.

If you want to go the float route, get your float rating. Sell the 172 and buy a float plane and build hours on it.

Main thing is to build a pile of cash and use it to pay for building flight time and qualifications.
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aileron
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by aileron »

Give up any metro lifestyle expectations and move to the most remote location you could possibly imagine having an air operator. Take advantage of any good credit standing you have now and set yourself up for a future swap over: eg if you don't own a house, buy one now and rent it out. If you can afford the aircraft, keep it and lease it out if you can... ie hold on to any real assets that can continue to pay for itself, this is a source of income that your future self will appreciate.

When you decide to take the path toward an aviation career your income will suffer for at least 10 to 12years (especially if you're used to corporate YYC pay now).

I wouldn't do any more than 200 hours in a C172, after that I'd say your wasting your money. The real experience, if you could afford it, would be to fly a light twin.

If you're aggresive get your CPL Multi/IFR on an accelerated plan, have a milestone of by your 34th year.

I wouldn't throw out a dream of WJ; as it stands now I don't believe they throw out applicants due to an age restriction. Search the WJ forum, I'm sure Dave could have allready answered this or would certainly enlighten your question. If you were aggressive, even if you couln't begin flying until 35, add 7 years for your apprentiships toward a WJ goal and you'd be 42. If you got on you'd be in the 56 neighbourhood for captancy (I believe its about 8 years now for upgrade, as a general guess I'd add around a half to full year to that upgrade for each year that goes by from herein on). However, WJ pays well for FOs anyway.

Good luck, it can be done (I was 29 when I started).
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WetJet
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by WetJet »

Dazed,
Everybody wanted to be a pilot at one time or another. That's why there is a video game called Flight Simulator and not one called Accountant Simulator. Flying is an amazing way to make a living, but it can be a miserable career. I know lots of people that have commercial licenses that have 250-1000 hours and said F'it because they didn't want to or couldn't give the 5+years to get to a point in life where you can live in the city you want and make a decent living.
Keep your day job and get your private license. See what life is like for your instructors that have 500-2000 hours and ask them what the job market is like. Believe me, they are looking for FO jobs with the same air ambulace/charter companies that you want to get on with. If you really want to buy a plane, do it after you have a private license and have answered some of these questions yourself. There is nothing stopping you from starting your private license at the local flying club today. But don't quit your job.
Don't quit your job.
Don't quit your job.
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scm
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by scm »

Agreed with the guys that said don't quit your job.

Personally I think now is a bad time to uproot.
Better to be financially secure and fly for fun.
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Expat »

scm wrote:Agreed with the guys that said don't quit your job.

Personally I think now is a bad time to uproot.
Better to be financially secure and fly for fun.
+2
Life is good! Buy a small plane, have fun, but stay where you are...Fly first class, not right seat... :D
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Tiny Voices
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Tiny Voices »

WetJet wrote:Dazed,

Keep your day job and get your private license.

If you really want to buy a plane, do it after you have a private license and have answered some of these questions yourself.

There is nothing stopping you from starting your private license at the local flying club today.
He has his private license! Says so in the first paragraph!

Dazed, I'm in the area, so if you'd like to chat, just send me a PM and we can arrange something.
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Last edited by Tiny Voices on Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Beefitarian »

I would for sure buy a plane and build hours if you can afford it. The number was usually over 100 hours a year before you would save money owning over renting. If you wanted to build multi time that number might change because no one rents twins anymore.

A decent C-172 should be a good investment because if you look after it you will nearly for sure get back a good portion of what ever you spend on it. You could get a new fuel injected one pre glass cockpit for $60000

If you own the plane you can fly anytime you wish snagging an extra hour or two when ever you have time. You do not have to worry about getting it back in time if you're stuck somewhere due to weather. I went to the coast in a warrior once and got stuck for nearly a week in Abbotsford on the way back. So if you're planning long trips you may need a partner that can stay with the plane or you'll have to leave it behind and return for it later if you have to get home for work. That could quickly get expensive.

As for experience it would be better to buy something a little more complex and a twin would be even better. You might have trouble buying a decent car on ramp wages so I'm thinking keep that job. If you can afford a nice twin set up for IFR you should be able to build hours that will be usefull on a resume. That will also prevent having to leave the plane stuck somewhere due to weather.

I don't know what would be the best multi engine plane for building hours. I like C-310s but some feel they are aging and need a lot of service, pipers, anyone? I'm available for trips. :D
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ypk_girl
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by ypk_girl »

Hedley wrote:Get your class 4 flight instructor rating ASAP and start instructing evenings and weekends,
Aah - the blissful ignorance!

More likely you'll join the scores of people who have gone thru all the hard work of the PPL, the CPL, then the multi, then the IFR, then finally the Instructor rating and then, after knocking on the doors of every flight school across the land looking for even a job that might pay say $8000 a year (yes you read that right) and still can't find a job - your rating expires and you say F'it - what the hell was I thinking, and go back to the day job.

A few weeks later you'll be on the bus one morning going to work when some dude will sit next to you - he'll be reading "From The Ground Up" - you'll get talking - he's training to become a pilot.....

Stick with the real job, I mean it, seriously.

Get your PPL and have fun with that - you don't see many airline jocks flying for fun these days.
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North Shore
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by North Shore »

I don't think that your age is too much of a handicap. I'm sure that a lot of people will look on a 35-year old new hire a lot more favourably than a 22 year old one - you've been around the block a few times, and hopefully, have got a lot of that young-man-more-balls-than-brains-dumbassedness out of your system - a good thing when you're being entrusted with passengers, aeroplane, and company's good will.

You're looking at ~$50k from this point to get your CPL/MIFR, and there's NO GUARANTEE of a job after you've spent that. Are you prepared for that eventuality? $50k will take a nice chunk off your mortgage, or give you a decent down payment on property. I suppose that it's nice that you've got experience in your corporate career to fall back on - and that experience might help you in getting a foot in the door at XYZ Airlines. On the other hand, if you're used to the corporate salary/lifestyle, then entry level flying salaries night be a bit of a shock..

Davep over on the WJ forum can give you more accurate hiring data, but I'd hazard a guess that your age won't be too much of a handicap (provided you don't hold off 'til you're 60 :wink: ) Keep in mind, though, the adage about old dogs and new tricks - as you get older, learning new and more complex aeroplanes will become more difficult. That being said, if we give you 10 years to get the hours to knock on the door at WJ, then you're only 43, and I certainly don't think that's 'too old'.

As others have pointed out, buying your own plane gives you flexibility wrt training and trips. If you could afford a twin, then so much the better, as more MPIC will certainly distinguish your resume from the crowd.
DON'T quit your day job until you are ready to take the leap full-time. That regular paycheque is a real blessing. Try and get/take a job that you'll be happy with if your long-term plans don't work out.

Good Luck!
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alctel
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by alctel »

I'd stay in the day job for a year and fly whenever you can on evenings and weekends as you work towards your CPL. Getting your ratings with no debt is a pretty fantastic achievement.
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by WetJet »

Tiny Voices wrote:
He has his private license! Says so in the first paragraph!
Sorry, I missed that. That being said, I know lots of pilots with over 1000 hours that would give them all back to be in your position. Flying a plane and being a professional pilot are two different things, one is fun, the other is a job. The grass is always greener on the other side but you still have to mow it!

Good luck with whatever you decide Dazed.

oops, edited for spelling.
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Last edited by WetJet on Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ng78
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by ng78 »

What a depressing thread :shock: And I say this as somebody in his early 30's as well, with my CPL with all the goodies attached to it, 500 hours and having a hell of a time finding something. I have a very good ground based job in the industry and that's a good thing. It's still a tough position to be in, but I really think that things are turning around and that it will be worth it in the long-run.
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skat0r
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by skat0r »

I wouldnt take any advice from ppl here, they all forgot why they did this job in the first place and now they just think about making money and how bad everything about flying is
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dirk82
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by dirk82 »

Dazed
I am doing the exact same thing, I was in a position to be able to pay for everything cash and buy a plane to build hours in. I asked the exact same question on here a year ago and got the same replys tellin me to run and stick to what Im doing, I obviosly didnt listen and time will tell if I made the right desicion. I did a follow up post on here a few months after hearing all the negitive comments asking of all these guys who say it sucks and that who ever does CPL training is wasting money if givin the chance would they do something else. Funny thing I didnt get one of these same guys saying they would go do something else. Strange how that works. Some said they would would pursue different avenues in aviation but none would give it up totally.

just my 2 cents
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by WetJet »

skat0r wrote:I wouldnt take any advice from ppl here, they all forgot why they did this job in the first place and now they just think about making money and how bad everything about flying is
So, other than Canada's biggest bunch of airline, float, charter, and medevac pilots, CFIs and flight instructors, and aviation enthusiasts, who should Dazed turn too? This is an AVIATION forum, if anything there should be a bias towards us all saying "give'r buddy, it's the best thing ever." I can assure you, the people that I know that have +1000 hours and have left aviation are not hanging around this board to tell you how happy they are with their decision.

Don't get me wrong, there are some awesome jobs out there (I have the best one in Canada as far as I'm concerned) but there is too much luck and timing involved to bet a good stable career against the odds of landing one the few great jobs flying.
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Tube Driver
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Tube Driver »

Here is something that nobody has addressed here yet. You are only 33 and have no wife and kids...yet. You will more than likely end up meeting a girl, get married and have some kids. With the poor money you make in aviation your wife will have to work as well. This means daycare for the kids, or at least you assume it does because you are never around to drop off or pick them up, this is left to your wife who must do it on the way to work. It must be noted that your wife must do all this while working a job that supplies the lions share of the family income.

Fast forward a few years (if you are still married to wife #1). At this point the kids are older and although they are in school they now cost even more time and money. Your poor wife is now driving the kids to soccer, hockey, doing homework, etc. while you are yet again out of town. (all this while still making ends meet for the family.)

If this is they way you want to raise your family (or future family) then aviation is the career for you. If what I have written here at all alarms you then do not do it. Aviation is a lifestyle choice and not simply the choice between an office job and a job out flying airplanes. It is a lifestyle choice that impacts all the people around you. The ones closest to you it impacts the most. It is not a career for anyone that ever wishes to raise their kids in a two parent environment, You may be out blasting holes in the sky but those you leave on the ground are just trying to cope with part time dad.

Money aside (which is terrible) this is the honest truth about this industry that most when getting into it do not consider as they are not at that point in their lives yet. I could go on and perhaps be more poetic, but I just got the kids home from hockey and must help with homework before bed. This is a luxury that rarely existed when I was out blasting holes in the sky.
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Tube Driver
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Tube Driver »

Dazed, One last item before I go. I too live in YYC, had a good job flying jets, and walked from the industry somewhere between 5000 to 6000 hours. Choose carefully, stable office jobs with oil companies in cities like Calgary are not easy to come by.
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scopiton
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by scopiton »

WetJet wrote: but there is too much luck and timing involved to bet a good stable career against the odds of landing one the few great jobs flying.
you forgot to mention "who you know" :wink:
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Canoehead »

From the airline point of view. It's a great job, but a horrible career.

Some folks here might tell you that the 'naysayers' forget why they got into this...the love of flying etc.

What people fail to remember is that for many of us (naysayers), an event happened on September 11th of 2001 (years after I got into career flying) that changed the face of the airline business. For many, it simply ruined it. I am a second generation airline pilot. I watched my dad have a very enjoyable career growing up. So desirable it was that I followed along in his tracks. And it was fun. Until that fateful day. Now you just have to look at some of the threads here on AvCanada to see why it is no longer desirable to go to work: It's getting RIDICULOUS

Then there is the financial side of it. Airlines used to be run by folks who were 'airline people'. Now they are run by 'business people'. It is all about the bottom line now- their bottom line. They typically don't give a rats back-end about the employees, as long as they are getting maximum bang for their buck. More and more, you are not a person. You are a number. You aren't an asset, but rather, a liability. And they don't care about the long term well being of the company either. They are at the airline for 5 or 10 years, then on to their next source of pocket-lining (railway, transit corp, hospital, bank etc...). We (the front line employees) are still here, trying to make a go of it for 20, 25, or 30+ years.

I am 35 years old. I started flying when I was 19. I've flown commercially (703/705 ops) for 10 years now. I make about $55,000 per year. My dad was making $55,000 in 1978. The first 'airline' job I had paid me a whopping $26,000 per year. That was just 7 years ago! The highest paid pilots at my company make about $110,000 per year. Not a bad wage I guess, but with a bit of overtime, I could be a TTC driver and make more then that. A cadet in training for the Toronto police makes over $50,000 per year. My TAFB (time away from base, or more simply put- time at work) averages about 300 hours per month. Yep, that's about 75 hours a week. You can do the math. Many of my high-school buds were making that kind of money by the time they were 25, and they have only ever had to work 40 hours per week.

For some of the reasons noted above, this is not the best career for a family man. You need a spouse who is extremely understanding. Just Google 'divorce rate and pilots' if you don't believe me. Then imagine trying to explain to your kids why you are missing their birthday again. All for what?

My advice, for what it is worth: don't do this for a job, just do it for fun. If you really want to fly, and get paid to do it, join the military. But the bottom line is, you gotta be happy doing what you're doing.

Again, flying airplanes is an awesome job, but it is a terrible career.
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A330
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by A330 »

My 2 cents...

I would agree with most and pay off your flying hours and continue working to have your CPL with no debt if possible. Send out your CV and work hard at finding an entry level flying job. I would say you're at a big advantage with your previous work experience, age and education. I'm sure most employers would agree.

In industry is very unpredictable but there have been far less people interested in a flying career recently. Combine that with a large number of retirements in the next 5 years, and your timing could work out well. I know it's been said many times before about a shortage but it could happen in 5-10 years.

In any case, I would follow your dreams and press on with building your hours. Good luck.
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by bubby »

Join the military if you want to fly some pretty cool stuff and do some unique and challenging flying. I've seen plenty of guys much older than you make it through. Not a recruiting thing here, but it's a pretty good life and the pay is much better than you'd probably expect. Pm me if interested.

Remember: never under any circumstances should you take a laxative and a sleeping pill at the same time
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Re: Career change advice needed

Post by Chaffey »

Honestly.. Thats a huge step. I agree with Hedley. Take it at a good pace. Keep your job and build hours instructing on weekends or evenings. Once you have enough hours, move on to something steady. The airline industry is SLOWLY picking up. There used to be lots of hiring a few years ago, but it seems to have dropped off a bit. Im sure it will pick back up again soon.
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