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Old 02-05-2019, 05:40 AM   #1  
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Default Mid-life Career Change

Hey all. I'm a 38 y/o who has spent the last 20 years managing supply chain and financial companies. I flew a lot back in high school (pre-9/11). Loved it. Sat in a flight simulator at a virtual reality store and the itch came back. Went up in a Piper Cherokee (low wing) and the addiction is strong, also the GPS technology feels like cheating.

I just drew the short straw and my branch is being closed due to lease conflict with the landlord. The financial industry is shrinking as more and more content is being offered online and my company has no open positions for me to fill.

So I had been wrestling with the thought of dropping $$ into my flight training to cert up and really do flying full time. I've got a local flight school that can get me up through MEI and there is a large college nearby with a large aviation program looking for CFIs. I'm thinking this could be a great launch pad to a regional.

I've got no illusions that I'm coming at this a bit late in life. I don't need to fly a wide body as a captain making the big bucks. I'm in fantastic health, so no issues getting a 1st class medical. I know money will be tight, but the hiring environment is so much different than what I remember from the late 90s. CFIs make more than fast food wages. Regionals pay their captains 6 figures. Many regionals can promote you from FO to Captain in just a year or two.

So for those currently training and those who are living the life, what's the weather like? What things might I be missing? You're advice and feedback are welcome.

It's actually been reading over these forums for the past month and doing a metric TON of research in challenging my assumptions that has gotten me to this point. So, thank you all for the information you post on this forum and website. It's been extremely helpful.
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Old 02-05-2019, 06:59 AM   #2  
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Plenty of people your age and older do it, and there has really never been a better time, ever, due to massive looming retirements at the big three.

So really it comes down to your finances vs. your lifestyle, how much you have saved, and how much you can adjust the lifestyle if needed.

Also it will be easier if you can relocate several times over the next five years but not required, many pilots commute.

So probably the finances, spouse (if any), and kids (if any) are the key factors to consider. You should be earning $100K+ after you upgrade at a regional in five years (or even less if you hustle), and then $200K+ at a major once you get hired. Also having a college degree and a clean background are important. Obviously a criminal record will be a big problem, but even a DUI or a lot of moving violations can slow down or limit your progression.

Also recall that any big economic turmoil (or black swan event) could mess up the industry, although the large number of retirements should mitigate the career damage over time as far as a pilot is concerned.
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Old 02-05-2019, 07:18 AM   #3  
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Plenty of people your age and older do it, and there has really never been a better time, ever, due to massive looming retirements at the big three.

So really it comes down to your finances vs. your lifestyle, how much you have saved, and how much you can adjust the lifestyle if needed.

Also it will be easier if you can relocate several times over the next five years but not required, many pilots commute.

So probably the finances, spouse (if any), and kids (if any) are the key factors to consider. You should be earning $100K+ after you upgrade at a regional in five years (or even less if you hustle), and then $200K+ at a major once you get hired. Also having a college degree and a clean background are important. Obviously a criminal record will be a big problem, but even a DUI or a lot of moving violations can slow down or limit your progression.

Also recall that any big economic turmoil (or black swan event) could mess up the industry, although the large number of retirements should mitigate the career damage over time as far as a pilot is concerned.
I'm a paladin. No moving violations, no DUI, no criminal. Got a wife and kids, we've done the career change struggle before and managed fine. I am aware of the damage a black swan event or economic downturn could have on the industry, but I have no control over those factors. They tend to also impact other industries as well. As with much of life, there are no guarantees... all we can do is make the best decision we can with the information at hand and try not to over leverage ourselves into a dangerous position. You are right though... and it remains a concern. I'm dropping some serious money into a future that could vanish before I get my hands around it.

I've hustled my whole life. I don't see any reason why that would change just because I'm working in an office with a pretty view. Work is still work.

I appreciate your feedback and looking out for some of the common obstacles that trip up prospective pilots. Any other insights? Any other dark clouds on the horizon I'm not seeing?
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Old 02-05-2019, 08:47 AM   #4  
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I'm a paladin. No moving violations, no DUI, no criminal. Got a wife and kids, we've done the career change struggle before and managed fine. I am aware of the damage a black swan event or economic downturn could have on the industry, but I have no control over those factors. They tend to also impact other industries as well. As with much of life, there are no guarantees... all we can do is make the best decision we can with the information at hand and try not to over leverage ourselves into a dangerous position. You are right though... and it remains a concern. I'm dropping some serious money into a future that could vanish before I get my hands around it.

I've hustled my whole life. I don't see any reason why that would change just because I'm working in an office with a pretty view. Work is still work.

I appreciate your feedback and looking out for some of the common obstacles that trip up prospective pilots. Any other insights? Any other dark clouds on the horizon I'm not seeing?
I would just add make sure you get a first class medical (with EKG) to make sure thereís nothing surprising with your health.
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Old 02-05-2019, 08:55 AM   #5  
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I would just add make sure you get a first class medical (with EKG) to make sure thereís nothing surprising with your health.
That's a great idea. Any idea how much more expensive a first class medical is compared to a 3rd class medical?
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:00 AM   #6  
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You will trash your family in the process. Get a job and take care of business.
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:08 AM   #7  
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You will trash your family in the process. Get a job and take care of business.
Expound on this please.

At the moment I'm looking at about a year and a half worth of low income (35k) working as a CFI before I'm at the hours to get an interview with a Regional Carrier. We've budgeted for this level of income before and will make ends meet (no debt, humble lifestyle in a rural area of Virginia). But this only addresses the income concerns, what other concerns should I be aware of that could trash my family?
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:35 AM   #8  
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Expound on this please.

At the moment I'm looking at about a year and a half worth of low income (35k) working as a CFI before I'm at the hours to get an interview with a Regional Carrier. We've budgeted for this level of income before and will make ends meet (no debt, humble lifestyle in a rural area of Virginia). But this only addresses the income concerns, what other concerns should I be aware of that could trash my family?
Look at the post history of that person. To say they are extremely negative is an understatement. I used to work as an engineer and made a career change to aviation when I was 27. My timing was terrible, as I had to deal with the age 65 rule change, Great Recession, etc. But itís still be fun and now Iím around 40, working for the best airline in the world flying a 767. I get lots of time off, travel the world, and make a fantastic income.
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:36 AM   #9  
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That's a great idea. Any idea how much more expensive a first class medical is compared to a 3rd class medical?
Anywhere from $100-200. Money well spent though.
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:49 AM   #10  
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Look at the post history of that person. To say they are extremely negative is an understatement. I used to work as an engineer and made a career change to aviation when I was 27. My timing was terrible, as I had to deal with the age 65 rule change, Great Recession, etc. But itís still be fun and now Iím around 40, working for the best airline in the world flying a 767. I get lots of time off, travel the world, and make a fantastic income.
Trolls gonna troll. I don't mind it so long as there is some nugget of information I can glean from it.

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Anywhere from $100-200. Money well spent though.
Yeah, that's not a big deal and agreed that the peace of mind is well worth it. I appreciate the help.
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