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Young Marine Considering a Pilot Career?

Old 05-21-2017, 12:27 AM
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Default Young Marine Considering a Pilot Career?

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Being an airline pilot career has always been my passionate career goal since I was 5. Now, I am a 23 year old single man, about to finish my enlistment in the US Marine Corps, but in a serious dilemma that involves following my cliche passion, or diverting to another career path.

In the Marine Corps, I have done three years as a MV-22 Osprey crew chief (aircrew) and about to finish two years as a cyber network operator (equivalent to a civilian computer networks administrator). I've done quite a lot of research in the civilian job market and I discovered that the airline industry is not as luxurious as it once was. You start out making the same as a garbage man, the cost of training is high and time consuming, and the industry is extremely competitive.

On the computer side, you can start out making twice as much, and training only requires a few certifications, and there is always demand and job opportunities for computers and technology.

However, I am extremely reluctant on throwing my longest-term goal down the drain. Money and luxury has never been a priority for me, but I notice it becoming more important to my family as I transition into the civilian world.

However, in defense of the aviation career path, the military will be able to pay for a 4-year aviation degree program with flight at Middle Georgia State University using Post 9/11 GI Bill. I am not currently in debt, and I am not shamed to admit to say that I have supportive parents that can provide a safety net for me if all things fail.

As I grown man, I do not allow others to make decisions for me, but I would appreciate some personal perspective on whether pursuing an airline pilot career is worth it, judging from my situation.
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Old 05-21-2017, 02:15 AM
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If you are 23 and single then now is the time to take a risk. How come you did not fly in the military?

You will probably come out of your 4 year aviation program with 250 hours. To get a first officer job you need at least 500 hours. That means you will have to spend at least 250 hours instructing. Getting to 250 hours will probably take you 6 months.

Instructing makes you a better pilot, but your goal should be to get into a First Officer job at 500 hours. That is where the real learning starts. There are multiple companies that will hire pilots with 500 hours, Tradewind, Cape Air, and Air Choice One are some of the big ones.

The best by far jobs website for aviation is climbto350.com Once you graduate your 4 year program you definitely want to sign up for a subscription to 350. It is only $69 a year and it will be the best $69 you ever spend.

From 500-1200 hrs is going to take time and you will not make very much. Your hours and work conditions will be tough. That 700 hours will probably take a couple years. You should get a part time computer job with flexible hours to make life a little more comfortable dollar wise.

1200 hours is where the real fun starts. (Look to see if your university has a restricted ATP program. If it does, then you can get a big jump on a lot of other pilots who have to rack up 1500 hours before they can work for a Part 121 carrier.) From 1200-1500 hours I recommend getting a single pilot freight job. Handling all the decisions on your own will make you a way better pilot down the road.

So, all in all, you are looking at around 7-8 years before you can make $100,000. In a computer job I am sure that timeline is way quicker.

My advice is to follow your dream, but get a good part time computer job that you can do while you are going to school and racking up hours. That way you will not have to eat as many ramen noodles.
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:42 AM
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He didn't fly in the military because he joined right out of HS. Mil pilots slots are very competitive, involve a lengthy selection process and require college. You can't just "decide to do it".

The airline business involves dues paying because the potential end game is $300K+, more than half the month off, and a flexible lifestyle. Oh, and you get to fly jets.

IT will pay more out of the gate, but it will never approach the top airline payscales (which are reached by seniority, as opposed to politics, job hopping, and ladder climbing).

So you have to decide if some early risk and dues paying is worth the potential long-term payoff. If you're physically qualified, it would be worth applying for air national guard pilot slots after you get your degree...that will help to fast-track your airline career.
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:05 AM
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My advice is to do what you love to do. That includes more than one thing. Don't tell yourself, "I want to be an airline pilot period". There is no reason people can't set multiple goals simultaneously! I fly with pilots that are Lawyers, Reservists, Pharmacists, Veterinarians, Land Lords, etc. Many of us have learned through rough times in the industry to have a back up plan.
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:08 AM
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Go the pilot route, invest in your dream, you'll never look back. Lots of griping on this forum but I doubt anyone actually regrets being a pilot.
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Old 05-21-2017, 09:16 AM
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You have 40+ years of a career ahead of you. Lots of time to try out the pilot path and see if it works for you.
Young and single is the time to do it.
I used my time in the Army to get an A&P, did that for a long time while flying on the side. Now fly for a legacy and feel lucky to have the job I do.
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Old 05-21-2017, 11:42 PM
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LastXdeth,

Other people have addressed this, but I want to re-emphasize it here. For just a moment, forget about the money, forget how long this will take. Just answer me this: What is your dream job? Being a pilot for 30-40 years? Tell me what your dream is.
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Old 05-24-2017, 03:00 PM
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I don't have a whole lot of insight to the military to aviation transition, but have a bit of insight of the military IT to civilian IT. I had a friend who did networking in the military, and specialized in communications systems (requiring high amounts of mobility and security). He got out of the military and was very surprised to find that the skills he used in the military were barely relevant to the practices used in the civilian world. In his words, his military training was 10 years behind best practices in the civilian world, and he had a steep learning curve. For aviation, it may be similar from spending much of your career in a DC6 and then jumping into an A320. If you can, study some sample questions from the most recent version of the CCNA to confirm or deny if this is still the case, as you may be surprised.

I agree with others, you don't want to be in your 50's or 60's living with the regrets of taking the safer route, and realizing you no longer have the possibility of a long-term career in a field that may be your calling.
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:38 AM
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I have three letters for you....A N G

You can have your civilian career in IT.

Go to school at an in state school tuition free ( this is a National Guard benefit and not Reserves) while holding on to your GI Bill earned on Active Duty for later endeavors.

Work in a career field as close to the flying operation as you can. E.G. maintenance, load master, flight engineer. It looks like your background would make you an easy transition to either of these career fields.

When your degree is complete, apply for a commission and a pilot slot.

You have about 6 years to make all this happen. You could be established in your IT career, and also be marketable to a regional if not major airline by 33 and be debt free.

Lots of threads on this. Find someone you went to high school with who is on this path. I bet if you look around hard enough, you will know someone doing something similar.

From the school you mentioned in your thread, I'd knock on the door of the C-130 unit in Savannah, and also the Charlotte, NC unit.


Good luck and thanks for your service!!
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