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Old 05-16-2019, 03:08 PM   #1  
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Default Making a Career Switch

Hello pilot community - I'm sure there have been countless threads similar to this, but looking for some personalized advice (and validation) from a community of complete strangers.

I am very strongly considering walking away from my high-paying job in management consulting to pursue a career as a pilot. I'm currently 30 years old and have been working for a large, multinational consultancy for the past 2 years. Prior to that I worked as an operator at a nuclear facility, so I'm comfortable with the rigors of initial and recurrent training, systems and regulatory knowledge, procedure use and adherance, and the safety culture associated with the industry.

I live in Atlanta and am strongly considering the ATP Airline and Commercial Pilot training program for my training. I have 0 flight hours under my belt and will be 100% starting from scratch. I have a few friends who went through the program and recommend it as the best way to knock it all out at once and start working towards building hours.

My wife and I have been fortunate enough to save a considerable amount during our careers so far and I plan to self fund my way through the program. I know I'll be taking a huge step back in pay for the first 5-7 years of this new career, but I miss being in a nontraditional work environment with a schedule that is more flexible than a 60 hour M-F desk job.

My favorite part of being a consultant is getting on the plane every Monday morning and Thursday afternoon. I've always been fascinated with flying and now that I've got the financial resources to take the leap and my wife's blessing I'm ready to jump in. It seems daunting and like a huge risk, but I know I can put in the work to be successful.

I have an intro flight scheduled next Saturday and am anxiously awaiting the moment we take off. My questions to the group are:

1.) Am I crazy?
2.) Is ATP the best approach for someone in my situation?
3.) Will my background in nuclear help me? (not in direct knowledge, but in working style and approach to problem solving and decision making?)
4.) If I want to go the traditional route of Training->CFI/Time builder job->Regional->Major, is my timeline of 5-7 years to get there reasonable?
5.) What are other considerations that I may not have thought through?
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:17 PM   #2  
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No need to go to ATP.
There are enough opportunities to get picked up after youíve completed your CPL/CFI.
Iíd still recommend the CFI just because.
Find a local school youíre comfortable with and tell them the following:
Youíre considering going all the way to your CFI but youíll make the decision where and how to continue after every rating.
Donít make the assumption youíll be picked up by a Major.
No guarantees....
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:31 PM   #3  
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3.) Will my background in nuclear help me? (not in direct knowledge, but in working style and approach to problem solving and decision making?)
Yes. Whether military or civilian, that background will lend itself well to the technical training, decision making, and regulatory/procedural aspects of aviation. Still have to walk and chew gum though.

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4.) If I want to go the traditional route of Training->CFI/Time builder job->Regional->Major, is my timeline of 5-7 years to get there reasonable?
Yes, given current and known future industry conditions. Assumes a clean background, good performance in aviation training, and a reasonable college GPA. Otherwise it might take longer to the majors. Also assumes aggressive career progression, ie no kicking back and enjoying your seniority when you're eligible for the next step.

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5.) What are other considerations that I may not have thought through?
Airline aviation looks pretty rosy for the near future, probably better than any other time in history. But the industry is fragile, so keep in the back of your mind that things could go to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly. Great potential rewards but there is some risk too.

ATP is known to be hard on folks who don't have a lot of initiative and survival instinct. You should be able to handle it but make sure they don't set you up for unnecessary checkride failures.

I would seriously get a private pilot cert before quitting your job and going all in. Make sure you like it and have an aptitude. Get some advice from a younger professional pilot about checkrides, don't want to fail your private at some local yokel FBO because you don't know what you don't know.
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:38 PM   #4  
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Yes, given current and known future industry conditions. Assumes a clean background, good performance in aviation training, and a reasonable college GPA. Otherwise it might take longer to the majors.

too.
Grades should be good. 4 year degree and 3.3 Overall GPA from Georgia Tech
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:40 PM   #5  
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Grades should be good. 4 year degree and 3.3 Overall GPA from Georgia Tech
That's fine, especially if it's technical.
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:54 PM   #6  
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Keep your day job and obtain your private pilot and instrument rating from a local school (not ATP). If you have the aptitude, then consider moving forward with the career change. It's better to find out in this stage before you make any drastic changes or hand someone like ATP a large chunk of cash which you may see very little of if you decide to bail halfway through their program.

Flying isn't rocket science but it takes a certain skill set. As the other poster mentioned, there are no guarantees.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:08 PM   #7  
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All of the above ^^^
You could even do your Private and your IR part time.
Itís not going to matter much as long as you fly 3-4 times a week to keep the continuity going.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:45 PM   #8  
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My problem is that with my current job the likelihood of being able to get away from work early enough to do any training during the week is going to difficult if not impossible, especially outside of the summer when the days are longer.

There seems to be two camps:

-Rip the bandaid off and go for it
-see if itís for you and jump in if you decide itís what you want to do long term

Best solution for me might be The latter. If I can do my private this summer to see if Iíve ďgot itĒ or not, and then really take the plunge if Iím really into it. Still a risk, but much more metered.

Last edited by ClassicMan; 05-16-2019 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:29 PM   #9  
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Youíre better off flying early in the morning before work rather then after work. Can you get a later shift?
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:46 PM   #10  
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Youíre better off flying early in the morning before work rather then after work. Can you get a later shift?
No. It's client service corporate type work. Typical expectation is that we're in before the client 8 at the latest and leave after the client (usually around 7).

Best case scenario is that I work out an arrangement to be able to come in late (9) or leave early (5) at most once per week. I just don't have the flexibility to do things in "spare time" which is my main reason for wanting to make a career switch.

I'm lucky to be staffed on a project locally right now, but a more normal situation would be for me to not even be home for M-Th each week. If that was the case, training would become very very cumbersome, either consuming my entire weekends, and taking longer than would be ideal
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