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Old 12-31-2009, 06:43 PM   #1  
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Default Anyone left flying for FAA/another career?

Yes, it's another one of those threads. I'm a regional CA on RSV thinking about jumping ship into another career. Interested in hearing from anyone who left flying for another career, especially the FAA. The position I'm pursuing requires an ATP type. Not sure if I'd take it if offered but certainly considering it. Anyone here made the switch to the other side and how did it go? Regrets?
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:20 PM   #2  
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Do you mind if I take your spot? God Bless.
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Old 01-01-2010, 06:37 AM   #3  
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I voluntarily left a 6-figure, stagnant major airline job in 2006 for the "dark side". Here is my tidbits of wisdom to pass on:

If you desire good QOL and Benefits, it is a good gig. Holidays and Weekends OFF guaranteed!

If you still love to fly and will miss it, it is NOT a good gig. I fly 4 hours each quarter on average, just enough to be "current" but nowhere near proficient.

The job is very political. If you do not like confrontation, it is NOT a good gig:

Imagine yourself conducting inspections at a 135 or 121 air carrier, informing the D.O. that they are not in compliance with the regulations. Then imagine you having to defend yourself to local office management after the air carrier files a congressional complaint on you for doing your job. Your job is always on the line (much like being an airline pilot).

The "dark side" is best suited for someone in their late 50's that is totally burned out with flying the line, and for pilot/attorney personalities that love the challenge of confrontation/argument. You essentially will be a "salesman" of aviation safety.

Strong computer skills are essential. You will be spending a majority of your time documenting what you are doing in various software databases. I never imagined how much typing was involved... Typically 70% of your time is spent "in the office" with only 30% "in the field".

If you have a particular office you desire to work in, take the time to query the "worker bees" and find out the "mood" of the office. Each office is different and depends on the management style of the supervisors and office manager.

The dark side has many different opportunities, especially if you are willing to move. After three years, I am still looking for my niche... I hope to find it soon!

Good luck to you, just remember that the grass MAY NOT always be greener somewhere else!
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Old 01-01-2010, 11:13 AM   #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerfInit View Post
I voluntarily left a 6-figure, stagnant major airline job in 2006 for the "dark side". Here is my tidbits of wisdom to pass on:

If you desire good QOL and Benefits, it is a good gig. Holidays and Weekends OFF guaranteed!

If you still love to fly and will miss it, it is NOT a good gig. I fly 4 hours each quarter on average, just enough to be "current" but nowhere near proficient.

The job is very political. If you do not like confrontation, it is NOT a good gig:

Imagine yourself conducting inspections at a 135 or 121 air carrier, informing the D.O. that they are not in compliance with the regulations. Then imagine you having to defend yourself to local office management after the air carrier files a congressional complaint on you for doing your job. Your job is always on the line (much like being an airline pilot).

The "dark side" is best suited for someone in their late 50's that is totally burned out with flying the line, and for pilot/attorney personalities that love the challenge of confrontation/argument. You essentially will be a "salesman" of aviation safety.

Strong computer skills are essential. You will be spending a majority of your time documenting what you are doing in various software databases. I never imagined how much typing was involved... Typically 70% of your time is spent "in the office" with only 30% "in the field".

If you have a particular office you desire to work in, take the time to query the "worker bees" and find out the "mood" of the office. Each office is different and depends on the management style of the supervisors and office manager.

The dark side has many different opportunities, especially if you are willing to move. After three years, I am still looking for my niche... I hope to find it soon!

Good luck to you, just remember that the grass MAY NOT always be greener somewhere else!
Thanks for the honest reply. You have given me good information and a lot to think about. I mostly want to be home with the kids and wife and until recently was able to do that (hours cut, now on reserve...bad reserve). Not sure I want to fight the system to be home most days for the rest of my career. Sounds like the job would be worse but the benefits of doing it would be better.
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Old 01-01-2010, 12:40 PM   #5  
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I see that the complaint above dealt with not flying enough. Doesn't the FAA job provide you with the level of monetary compensation and time off to be able to pursue flying on your own dime and time to your heart's content? I would consider that the biggest benefit of that job. Unless the position represented a substantial paycut and doesn't afford you flying. Honest question.
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Old 01-01-2010, 01:51 PM   #6  
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I see that the complaint above dealt with not flying enough. Doesn't the FAA job provide you with the level of monetary compensation and time off to be able to pursue flying on your own dime and time to your heart's content? I would consider that the biggest benefit of that job. Unless the position represented a substantial paycut and doesn't afford you flying. Honest question.
The problem is flying too much/gone too much. Bad reserve=used everyday, 10 days off, plan on being extended/jr. manned one of those days off/mo. I've had at least 1 5 day trip/mo for the last 3 months. Not bad if you're single or even just married. Married with 2 kids and 1 on the way just isn't ideal to me. (yes, I knew what I was getting into...didn't anticipate it taking so long...waited to upgrade until I could hold a line and then downgrades and hours cut so that I'm now on reserve for almost a year...at a regional...) I am thankful for my job, just keeping an eye out and contemplating something better
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Old 01-01-2010, 02:20 PM   #7  
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I am the sole bread winner in the family and took a pay cut to come to the dark side, mainly for QOL/stability reasons. Although I would love to, unfortunately I don't have disposable income for additional flying at the moment. Saving for retirement and my kids college education is more important to me right now.

For obvious conflict of interest reasons, there are restrictions on outside employment (side flying job). You can not work for any aviation entity within the district/jurisdiction of your office.

Typically new hires start at GS-12 (appx $72K/YR). Promotion to GS-13 (appx $84K/YR) around 18 months. GS-14's (appx $100K/yr) are hard to come by but do exist.

Overall, it's a job, but the fun factor is much less than line flying

Just remember these three things if you decide to come work for "Uncle Sam":

1. It may not be fair - Oh well, that's life
2. It may not make sense - but don't try to change it!
3. Every two weeks you get paid
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Old 01-01-2010, 05:23 PM   #8  
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With a GS-13 if you can't afford to do any kind of GA flying you're doing something wrong. I do commend you for attempting to save for retirement and children's college education simultaneously. I don't have children yet, but I wrote off a long time ago the possibility of being able to save for retirement and subsidizing a college education simultaneously, in the absence of a pension. Yes, I know FERS is technically a 1/3 of a pension, yet still a joke compared to CSRS.

If I were you I'd buy that cessna and fly on the weekends and tell johnny there's nothing wrong with in-state tuition. At least that's what I plan on doing...

Jest aside, I do suspect if your wife was even a secondary income provider that it would largely alleviate your monthly budget and allow you to fly recreationally. I know as someone who works for and with civil servants, and aspires to gain employment in the system, that said job does give you plenty time off to pursue GA.

Thanks for your candid response, I think that's the kind of feedback the OP was looking for.
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:39 AM   #9  
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Hindsight,

Thanks for your input as well. I agree that GS-13 is a pretty good salary. A couple of things though:

Aircraft ownership - been there, done that. If it flies or floats, it's cheaper to rent. A/C ownership costs, even for a small single engine fixed gear aircraft are cost prohibitive unless one has a business to write it off.

My spouse is permanently disabled from a medical condition that surfaced a few years ago. Her ability to work is very limited. She was formerly a SF3 CA for a large regional airline.

As Forrest Gump says about life.. "you never know what you're gonna get"

Plan for the worst but hope for the best!

I am fairly certain that taxes will increase and fed govt benefits will be cut (such as FERS) in the future due to overwhelming govt costs. Look at what's happening with Social Security! It's gonna be wiped out in approximately 2018. Any airline pilot that has recently lost a pension will probably agree with me when I say:

You can only count on your own financial planning for adequate retirement savings!

My last piece of advice (unless you want to work until you're dead):

Pay yourself first: Max out your 401K/TSP and Roth IRA.

I hope to do more fun flying in about 22 years
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Old 01-02-2010, 08:58 PM   #10  
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Default Not the FAA, but...

I left the airlines after 3 years. I was hired just prior to the hiring boom back in 06, was an FO for just over a year (14 mos) prior to being able to upgrade to CA. I absolutely LOVED life in the left seat! Was there for 10 months, on reserve, enjoying life. Things were difficult however, 10 mos on reserve at TSA feels like an eternity, but, I was able to make due. The pay was what allowed me to deal with the BS, the stress however, was high, and unnerving to say the least, but i managed w/o issue. The downgrade hurt, I could see it in the future and knew it was coming, but was hoping that something would save me, but nothing did. Instead I enjoyed a right seat requal and 50% of my salary. IF I could have kept the pay, I'd have stuck it out, that was the real nail in the coffin.

I'm sure management believes that pilots love to fly (and we do) and that we'll do the job for pennies on the dollar, but truth be told, i'm worth more than that, as are at minimum 15 of my current co-workers at my new job. The ONLY thing that would lure me back to the airlines would be improvements in wages and work rules, passed that, they can keep it.

I now work for the federal government, am enjoying my lifestyle (off on Christmas, off on new years, worked 4 hrs on NYE, paid for 8, same before Christmas, and most other holidays) good benefits, a retiremet (although FERS sucks), off every weekend, home in my bed every night, and am able to tinker w/ my cars/motorcycles on whim, when i feel like it. Did i mention being able to ride the motorcycle to work again? (hadn't done that since flight instructing).

There are two big things i miss however.

Approach/Landing in my ole' airplane. And Jumpseating anywhere, anytime. Besides that, i cringe at the idea of going through airport security w/o a uniform and standing in that long line. The only thing that makes it worth while is knowing i get paid enough to buy a ticket now.
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