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Old 11-16-2021, 09:52 AM
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tnkrdrvr
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Joined APC: Jan 2018
Posts: 834
Default So you want to be an Airline Pilot

Iíve spent a lot of time thinking about the mil to airline transition the past few years. Based on my experience and the experience of a number of peers who have also made the transition, Iíve come up with a rough framework/checklist of things to think about as you prepare to make the transition.

1. Know what you want
Lots of people get hung up on QOL but fail to define what that is for your family. Number of days off matters, so does nights gone, weekends vs weekdays, size of paycheck, retirement benefits, travel benefits, etc. You need to sit down and rack/stack these and other factors to determine how to weigh QOL for your family. Coming out of the military, you are suddenly faced with a plethora of previously unexplored options. It takes time and communication to think through these things and avoid AIDS.

2. Know what you need
These are the non-negotiables. The things your career must at a minimum provide. You can suck up a year of 1st year pay, but doing a six-twelve month stop in the regionals only to roll into 1st year pay at a major maybe a bridge too far. Income to cover your min acceptable lifestyle. Enough time at home to meet family obligations. This is something that may require some uncomfortable conversations, but will ensure you donít go down a path that leads to having to bail on the industry. A surprisingly large number of military guys retiring from the military donít fully understand the importance of getting their ducks in a row before retirement to make that transition doable.

3. Know the consequences of living one place vs another
This isnít just the standard commute vs in domicile conversation. Additionally, you need to factor in the wide disparity in veterans benefits between states. In some states, veteransí kids can go to college for free or at greatly reduced cost. This can be a substantial effective income boost. Tax rates vary dramatically and so does cost of living. Finally, you want to live somewhere you actually will enjoy being for a good chunk of your life. This takes a lot of research and Iíd recommend narrowing it down to your top ten or less before diving into the research.

4. Ensure your family is onboard
Some guys canít stand the military life and bailing has been a foregone conclusion for years. Others have spent twenty plus years in and will miss it enormously. Most are somewhere in between. Leaving the military is a huge transition for your family as well. Make sure that you and they have open lines of communication on what expectations are and how this will affect everyone. There is no point in landing your dream job if you lose the family it was supposed to benefit in the process. As a military pilot you have a number of lucrative opportunities available to you besides the airline industry. Donít be afraid to explore those as well. The airlines arenít for every family.

5. Technicalities or are you actually competitive for a job.
Ensure you take advantage of the numerous interview and application prep companies to maximize your odds and get feedback on how you compare to those getting hired right now. A 1500 hour tanker pilot isnít as competitive as a 1500 hour F35 guy. A 1000 hour F35 guy isnít even getting his foot in the door at a legacy. (Most of this fluctuates with pilot demand) Some guys donít want to drop the $3-500 on prep services. This is a small investment in maximizing your odds at your first choice company and minimizing the odds you wind up at a company lower on your priority list.

6. Focus your energy on your top tier airlines first (application reviews, job fairs, etc) and as you have time work your way down. Have a plan B, C, and D for if this airline thing doesnít work out. There are many opportunities out there, donít shoehorn yourself in a crappy airline you hate over a non flying gig youíd love.

Finally, good luck the hiring floodgates are opening. Seniority does matter(itís not everything). The sooner you get that class date, the sooner you can relax and deal with everything else involved in leaving Uncle Sam.
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