However, being a pilot is not all that rosy and for the uninformed some of the sacrifices you will be forced to make might come as a huge surprise and might even have stopped you from starting your training.
Some of the factors nobody might have told you are the fact that most pilots get paid VERY low wages till they are working for major airline or similar type operators. To get your career of the ground, so to speak, you might also work in less desirables places or work very long days doing choirs that’s not even flying related. In the industry it is called paying your dues and the price might be too expensive for some to pay.
If you are still making up your mind:
If you are still undecided if you want to be a pilot consider these important factors:
Your training is going to be extraordinary expensive and it is not a once off expense. Through the course of your career you will continuously be paying for things, from aviation medical, manuals, charts, equipment and to on going training, IT NEVER ENDS and it all cost money and a lots of it. In the beginning of your career the amount you are getting paid and the amount you spend makes just even surviving a battle. So if you have a family to support, prepare for a second job and some rough times.
Before you will be earning a moderate wage consider the time frame it will take to reach it. Training for a commercial pilot takes around 1 to 1.5 years on average and add to that, let say 6 months, to find that very elusive first job. Your very first job will be flying single engine airplanes on scenic flights or parachute drops and you will be doing that for around 1000hrs, which can take from 1.5 to 2 years. You get promoted to piston twins and you will be flying them for another 500hrs.
You are now 4-5 years into your career and have around 1500hrs, which qualifies you for an airline transport license. You now land a job with a regional airline or similar operator as a first officer and after 18 months they promote you to a captain. You are now aiming for the next level, a major airline but most of them want a 1000hrs of jet time which can be a very hard to get.
So it’s been around 8 years before you will be sitting as first officer of a jet, 8 years of hard work, lots of expenses and low pay.
It’s my dream and I’m doing it:
Great, fantastic choice here is some tips that might shave off some time and money.
Forget about big flying schools (sausage factories as they are called). In the real world your future employer does not care and don’t even know the name of that “Big Shot” school and it will only cost you more. Scheduling and availability of aircraft is a problem with these bigger flying schools. If the weather is to bad for your training flights this week they can’t reschedule you because there are to many other students. I think I could have reduced my training at least 4-6 months if it was not for this factor.
Flight schools are going to push you for an instrument rating. They are going to make lots of money out off it and you most likely will not use it during your first years as a pilot. A night rating is more valuable in your first years, is not so costly and will enable you to get much wanted night hours.
Once you finish all your flight training and have your prized commercial license in your hand and is ready to knock on the doors for your first job hold of a little bit longer and finish all the theory subjects for your airline transport license (ATP). At this point you are still in a study mode and environment, trust me it is a hell of lot harder once you are working as a fulltime pilot a couple of years down the road.
I truly enjoy my life as a pilot, it is challenging and highly rewarding and I have accepted the shortcomings of the job. If I knew what I know today I would probably still make the same career choice but will definitely not go the same training route as I did.
Above all be patient and enjoy what you are doing, don’t just do the grind so that you can reach the next level, there is always a next level and you might miss out on years of your life if you only live for that.