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Old 02-06-2007, 07:55 PM   #1  
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Default General aviation training and schooling questions

Hi guys, new to the forum and was hoping to get a few questions answered and some opinions. I don't personally know any pilots and ran across this forum and everyone seemed pretty helpful. First a little back round on me. I'm 21 currently and working, only have 1 year of college under my belt. I took time off to work after but I haven't really entertained the idea of going back yet. Also feel like starting a 4 year program on top of flight training at 21 is too late. Well, I am looking into going in for my commercial pilots license. I've had a fascination with it for a long time and have always loved flying when going on vacations and trips. I've finally decided to look into it more but i had a few questions before i jump in.


I was looking at going to ATP for the training. It seemed like one of the best choices and didn't seem like too many people had anything bad to say about it. I've been reading around the forums and it seems like a lot of people are saying its bad to take out a loan to pay for your training/school. Why is that? I have some money in the bank but not enough to pay for it in full.


Is is just extremely hard to find any kind of job or instructors job right out of training? Also how long does it usually take to get hired after you get a decent amount of hours?


Another thing I was curious about is, is it impossible to find a job without a Bachelors degree? I'm pretty much willing to relocate wherever. I know most people will probably tell on me to go ahead and finish school first but is it really the only option? From what I've read you max out at 90k without bachelors.. and around 200k+ with one. What are some of the average starting pays with out without a degree? I've thought about going and finishing up a Bachelors but i would probably have to take out another loan for that, on top of the one i would have to take out for flight school. Could add up to 75k+ loan, which is kinda scary for me, although maybe it's not as bad as it appears. I was reading "theblueones" thread and it had good information about this. But it was kind of vague on the differences between regional and major airlines. Any extra info appreciated^


And finally just a few general questions. I know becoming an instructor is probably the best way to gain hours but if it does become a problem finding an instructor job, is it possible to privately gain hours? Or is it far too expensive? And lastly would you guys recommend going for it with my current situation or does it just sound like a recipe for disaster. I'm not afraid to put all my effort into it but i just want to get some experienced opinions on the matter. Make sure I'm not gonna jump into something that would just put me in way over my head.


Sorry for the loaded post. But I had a ton of questions and any information is appreciated. Thanks a lot guys
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Old 02-06-2007, 09:32 PM   #2  
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I think I can shed some light on your situation...

I'm 23, just finished school with a bachelors degree and all my ratings up to CFII. Looking back I'm very happy with my decision to go to school because I now have something to fall back on if aviation doesn’t add up the way I want or I loose my medical. To do it, I had to take out loans worth around $40,000 which I think is pretty reasonable considering some people I know took out 75-100K for the same result. You need to be very careful when taking out loans! Believe it or not they will want all that money back and then some eventually... With my loans I'm looking at around $400/month in payments. Consider how much you'll make as a CFI (15-25K depending on how busy you are) and the starting pay as an FO at most regionals (25K average) and it's easy to start drowning.

Whether or not you need a degree is debatable. Some will say it is not required some will say it is. I know people who have been hired recently with and without degrees so it really depends on what you want to do or who you want to fly for. My personal opinion is that a degree will open more doors for you now, and later in your career as well.

At 21 you are definitely not too old to start your career. I work with people everyday training to switch careers and most are in their mid to late 30’s and sometimes older than that. I think (don’t quote me) the average age of a regional airline new hire is 34 anyways you will be well below that even if you really take your time.

I can’t speak on ATP because I don’t know much about them. It’s my understanding that they are the “easy button” to an airline job if you have the cash to burn. For the rest of us, CFIing is the best way to get the experience you need in an economical way. You can always crop dust or banner tow or sightsee your way there but you won’t learn as much as while teaching. At first I didn’t want to be a CFI either, but I have learned so much since I started instructing and learn more every day.

Finding an instructor job will depend on where you live. I live in Chicago and had no problem finding a job even in the slow winter season.

For me, flying is the only job I can ever imagine having. I work lots of part time jobs on the side to make ends meet and it just reminds me each time how much I love working in and around airplanes.

My recommendation for you would be to finish school so you have something to fall back on and improve your resume. Try to get your ratings on the side when you can and start instructing as soon as possible. I knew lots of guys who instructed while in school even. When you get out finish up any ratings you have left and instruct until you are competitive enough to start applying where you want to fly. The amount of hours you’ll need will no doubt change by the time you’re ready so don’t worry about that for now. I think things are just starting to turn up and you are getting in at a great time.

I hope this helped, if you have any other questions I can answer just ask and good luck!
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:13 PM   #3  
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I recommend that you get that 4 year degree. If you have any endeavors to go further than regional, you're going to need that degree. I agree with aceirishpilot08 that you do NOT want to get into debt. Pick your flight school very carefully. I went to a flight school that was less than honest and definitely shady with an ego bigger than this planet and I got burned big time. I "drowned" out because they didn't deliver on their training timeline and it ended up costing more to complete my training. Just to let you know, I am currently paying back my loan at $1000 per month on a $100K debt over 15 years. My dream to fly for an airline is OVER.

The flight school you absolutely want to avoid is the one that I attended, now being branded as FTSI/CAPT or Commercial Airline Pilot Training program. They're VERY expensive, and you get a LOT LESS for your money. They're going to try to wow you with new Cirrus and a Level D simulator. While they all sound fun, you're going to be paying big time for that fun and at the end of the day, you won't even get a CFI out of them far less CFII, MEI, etc. So, tread carefully. You don't want to pay these clowns $100k for your flight training when you can get more elsewhere for a lot less money.

You will want to get your flight instructor certifications. They will definitely be your key to success. In the mean time, I suggest that you learn as much as you can about the industry, ask a lot of questions on the forums, get your private pilot and see how you feel about it all. Aviation is not all peaches and cream and anyone who tells you otherwise is either from FTSI/CAPT or is selling you snake oil. Best of luck to you.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:14 PM   #4  
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"Is is just extremely hard to find any kind of job or instructors job right out of training?"

No, it's easy, but these jobs pay about $15/hr.

"is it impossible to find a job without a Bachelors degree?"

It's impossible to get one of the high tier jobs without a degree. What are you shooting for? Delta or an RJ? If it's Delta, you'll need a degree.
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Old 02-07-2007, 04:04 AM   #5  
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Go to school first.
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Old 02-07-2007, 05:37 PM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmik View Post
I was looking at going to ATP for the training. It seemed like one of the best choices and didn't seem like too many people had anything bad to say about it. I've been reading around the forums and it seems like a lot of people are saying its bad to take out a loan to pay for your training/school. Why is that? I have some money in the bank but not enough to pay for it in full.
It's OK to take out a loan, but be very careful about letting the school access it:

1) DO NOT EVER deposit the loan (or your own money) as a lump sum with the school, dole it out to them as you train a few grand at a time.
2) $20-40K is reasonable, depending on the training you need and location.
3) $60K+ means you are getting ripped off.
4) Make sure your training is progressing on schedule and on budget...understand the schedule and ask questions! I have seen kids blow their ENTIRE $30K commercial training loan on a private pilot license (these kids were lazy slacker idiots, but still)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmik View Post
Is is just extremely hard to find any kind of job or instructors job right out of training? Also how long does it usually take to get hired after you get a decent amount of hours?
No, it's normally not too hard, and it is VERY easy right now due to demand. Flight instruction is not something most people want to do for a career because of the low pay and stress. Eventually you can make a decent living as a specialist or pilot examiner, but along with your good income you have massive liaibility issues (juries are clueless about aviation and will essentially ALWAYS believe the lying sack of S#$% plaintiff's attorney...even if you did nothing wrong, you still lose 98% of the time)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmik View Post
Another thing I was curious about is, is it impossible to find a job without a Bachelors degree? I'm pretty much willing to relocate wherever. I know most people will probably tell on me to go ahead and finish school first but is it really the only option? From what I've read you max out at 90k without bachelors.. and around 200k+ with one. What are some of the average starting pays with out without a degree?
Good questions. Basically your career progression in the industry is measured by your accumulated flight experience...airlines essentially never negotiate with individual pilots. Even if you have a Phd in aerospace engineering and an MD, if you only have 200 hours, you will make less than 20k$ as a cfi, when you have 1000 hours (rough number) you can move on to the regionals, at 5000+ maybe the majors. The degree does not enhance your income, it prevents you from being automatically disqualified from most major airline jobs. Lack of a 4 year degree (or a DUI or serious criminal history) will lock you out of the most highly paid, stable, and comfortable jobs.

Regarding $90K/year at a regional... Yes, you can make that after a number of years with one company, and have 15 days off a month too. But the fundamental probem with regionals (as was mentioned) is that they are subcontractors. They can be fired and replaced by another regional at the drop of a hat...and if your company folds, you will start ALL OVER at the BOTTOM of another companies seniority list ($20K). You might be able to stay at one regional, make decent money and never be unemployed...but you live year-to-year contract-to-contract and will never know until the day you retire if you are going to make it to the end.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmik View Post
And finally just a few general questions. I know becoming an instructor is probably the best way to gain hours but if it does become a problem finding an instructor job, is it possible to privately gain hours? Or is it far too expensive? And lastly would you guys recommend going for it with my current situation or does it just sound like a recipe for disaster. I'm not afraid to put all my effort into it but i just want to get some experienced opinions on the matter. Make sure I'm not gonna jump into something that would just put me in way over my head.
You won't have trouble getting a CFI job and you will learn a LOT. A few very wealthy individuals will just buy the flight time they need to qualify for a regional job, but these folks are often looked down on (all depends on the individual really). You might have to buy some multi-engine time at some point, that is pretty common since MEI (multi-engine instructor) jobs can be hard to find.

At your age you could do it no problem, but try to come up with a plan to get the degree. I would recommend getting your private pilot license and doing a lttle fun flying to make sure you really dig it. If you don't like flying a Cessna 172 for fun, you won't like flying an airliner for work. Keep your day job while you do this...in fact, you can keep your day job while you get ALL your ratings, it will just take longer.
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Old 02-07-2007, 10:25 PM   #7  
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Sounds pretty much like deja vu from all the questions I asked a couple weeks ago...

This is what I got out of it all, Cosmik... First of all, I'm almost in the exact same situation as you, I'm 20 and I only have a year of college under my belt too. I just got hired at US Air to work on the ramp, which is a good day job and it will get my feet in the door. I'm also talking an online class so I can keep up with my education and hopefully start back up at my community college in the fall. As far as flight training goes, I'm living with my parents and taking from a local CFI, which most people will tell you, living with ur parents will save a buttload that you'd have to waste on living if you went to ATP or something. I'm going to get as much hours and as much **** done now before I go back to school so a) i can figure out if its what I really want to do in life in the first place, b) so I don't have to worry about all the hours I'll need, school, and work all at the same time.

I'm probably going to get my degree in business or something, which is pretty easy and generic in case I need something to fall back on. Start working for a regional by the time I'm 23, and get to a major by 30...

And as far as building hours goes, or being a CFI.. just instruct part-time while you're still going to school, and fly sky divers during the summer or something... Then when you graduate, you'll have all the hours and experience you need to start @ a regional... Thats my sappy plan anyway
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Old 02-07-2007, 11:32 PM   #8  
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I agree with what most people have said here. I would definately get your ratings while doing school....Many people do it, and its easy to manage your time that way.

Expect to be studying your butt off for the rest of your career. New equipment comes out, you will transfer jobs, aircraft, etc etc. All of it is more testing on you, more training, more studying, etc etc.

My major is in aeronautical science...which kind of sucks because if I lose my medical, I really cant do anything with my degree. Major in something that interests you, but make sure its a BS degree, not a BA.

ATP is not necessarily a bad program, although I didnt go there myself. Its an accelerated training program, which may mean your not really absorbing the information as well as you could be...i'm not really sure.

The most cost effective way would be to go to your local FBO, find an instructor and start training for your private license. enroll in classes at your JC or local state school, and your costs will be greatly reduced.

I went to embry-riddle and ended up spending 3x more than I would have if I had just gone to a state school, and done my training back home.

who knows...to each his own. I cant really go back in time, so I guess im stuck with my path.

Also, flying out of a local airport / fbo sets you up to make some really great contacts. Working line service / fueling / etc at your local fbo is also a great way to network (wish I had done that too)

Any questions, feel free to PM me.

Oh, and getting instructor jobs is easy...ya do that for a year or two, go to a regional (if thats what ya want). Expect to be living off top ramen and keystone for your college career, as well as your first year at a regional.
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Old 02-08-2007, 04:29 AM   #9  
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"...as well as your first year at a regional."

With ERAU loan payments kicking in, you can expect to be living off Top Ramen for a lot longer than that, Hoss.
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Old 02-08-2007, 07:21 AM   #10  
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FYI I got my degree at a Co-operative Education University - meaning I actually made more money than I spent because my school found me an internship every 4 months where I could make more than enough to pay for the next term. Had I been smarter I would have not bought a car and taken flying lessons with the extra money at a local FBO

It is completely worth it and possible to get a Bachelor's degree without spending 200k. There are also plenty of cheaper 3 year diplomas that can turn in to 4 year degrees, and you can get loans on more favorable terms (lower and tax deductible interest) for non-aviation diplomas and degrees than you could for ATP or the like.

Once you're done, you can continue your flight training without having to go into debt because you've got a well paying job. Just don't get fat and married like I did or your flying dream gets pushed back for a bigger house, rib-eyes, and pool maintenance.
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