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Pilots changing career

Old 22nd Feb 2013, 11:24
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Pilots changing career

Good afternoon PPRuNe,

We see a lot of people posting in this section about changing career to be a pilot. Recently myself and a number of fellow pilots have been thinking the other way due to unstable rosters, job instability etc to change career from being a pilot.

So those of you who have or know people who have left aviation what kind of careers did you/they go for? Is there any particular careers that suit pilots better than others?

P.S. Hope this is the right section and I don't mean to annoy or dishearten newbies but this is the reality of being a modern day airline pilot.
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Old 22nd Feb 2013, 12:10
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The situation is not good even in other fields, if you move outside the aviation I don't think so you could improve your quality life, unless you want to be a dentist or optician. But from what I think you are not. Doctors, engineers, all of kind of jobs which in theory are used to have a good payscale and quality life, they are experiencing the worst work conditions than ever. The problem is not just aviation related but worldwide related. I'll give you an example. My cousine is a surgery doctor with 20 years of experience in the sector. He has recently receive a pay cut of 1500 Euro and in the last period he was forced to do a shifts of almost 18 hours due to personal cut in the hospital, and therefore not enough personal to cover them. At the end, after he has been accepting all this exhaustive conditions to keep his job, yesterday his boss gave a fire notice and he will be jobless in 15 days. Do you think that just moving out aviation it would improve your life?

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Old 22nd Feb 2013, 12:16
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Pilots changing career

Not sure how old you are but ATC not a bad option this side of the world. That been said I must admit that it's tough times in all professional sectors. Maybe artisan is the way to go....
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Old 22nd Feb 2013, 14:03
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I've only been employed for about a year, but i've already started making alternative plans for the future. In fact, the airline i work for has had to restrict the number of people permitted to work part-time since so many have started taking classes on the side.

There are two possibilities i'm pursuing atm. I'm fortunate enough to have a bachelor degree, and my plan is to take classes to get an MBA. Being a pilot is a very specialized skill, and a very tough one to transfer to a different industry. ATC has been mentioned, which would seem like an easy transition when considering which skills you possess. We're also trained to be very safety-minded people, in quite a different way than "normal" people, and i believe this is a skill that would be quite valuable in other high-risk industries. The oil industry comes to mind, and with a degree in HR you'd probably fit in quite well. I even heard of one retired pilot who got a job at an oil company traveling around the world and checking out the various airlines that the company used to transport its employees.

My other option is to get an MBA and apply for a nice desk job, working weekdays and enjoying weekends and holidays with friends and family. I'm thinking that if i can't fly anymore (due to the never-ending downwards spiral of our industry), i don't want to have anything to do with the aviation industry. There are plenty of decent jobs out there which allows you to have a normal life, a normal sleeping pattern, and even summer holidays!

Good luck to you.
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Old 22nd Feb 2013, 16:17
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I was not quite in the same position to yourself N747EX, I have a frozen ATPL - low hours finished about 2 years ago. I had one interview and passed for regional carrier but job never materialised unfortunately. Did not agree morally with P2F and not willing to put myself in more debt therefore slowly but surely followed my head and not my heart and applied for non flying jobs. I now work in finance in London. I have an economics degree so was lucky in that case, but hardest aspect of getting a non flying job was catering my CV so that it was not flight orientated but relevant to what I was applying for (as all my history was pretty much flying). Also getting round the question, ‘would you go back to being a pilot if offered a job tomorrow.’ Pilots generally have stable personalities and good with numbers, high attention to detail these are excellent points when applying.
Having pilot history or training on your CV is a good ice breaker to get seen through the myriad of applications for non flying jobs but basically it all comes down to experience. A degree is helpful especially considering current employment opportunities across EU.

In retrospect I am happy with my decision to look at other jobs that were not aviation jobs due to stability, personal life, money and the good hours! However, I never lose the ability to look up in the sky and see someone fly by and think that could have been me. To answer your question directly you can change industry but it all depends on circumstances – age, experience, type of industry wanting to go into, qualifications needed, wages decrease until established.

Good luck all the best.
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Old 22nd Feb 2013, 23:39
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The grass is always greener it seems.

It may be telling that the airlines is one of the careers that, once established you don't see too many people leaving, whereas you do see quite a few changing from others to becoming a pilot.

Make of that what you will.
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Old 23rd Feb 2013, 10:25
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Clunk: As you should see from my latest reply to that thread, my theory was that as you had enough hours it became possible to leave Easy or similar, I could move and have better T's & C's and money.

Or am I delusional?

Anyway, thank you for the "You come across as an intelligent and articulate 17 year old" - that brightened my day
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Old 23rd Feb 2013, 11:23
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Definitely not true. Quality of life is the reason not to be in aviation right now. I know many people earning well into 6 figures, running their own businesses - working from home, working when they want, flying when they want, home every night, home for every birthday, home for every Christmas, etc etc. They do their own thing - and "doing your own thing" is actually what pilots are pretty good at.

So when it comes to 'quality of life' there's no doubt the grass IS greener outside of aviation - it's just that you don't fly planes as much.
As I've said, the grass is always greener. Never mind the fact that to strike it rich in business you have to be very savvy/lucky/put in a lot of hard work. I dare say in the early years of your 'many peoples' businesses, their quality of life wasn't so great with little holidays, long days and lots of stress to think about.

You omit to say what these businesses are, or indeed how they come into it, but it's telling that the three links you post are all described as 'retired'. If I had just retired with a big pot of money I'd perhaps look at doing something interesting with it myself, never mind the fact that I haven't had a vinyard in the family for the last 20 years
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 09:47
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Pilots changing career

Interesting responses thanks. Not saying I will definitely leave aviation but it's a discussion that has to be had as it's a discussion that happens in the flight deck all too often these days.

I think the main problem people have who want to leave is the money and I think a bit of a fear of the unknown. Money wise although pilot pay is being cut if you don't have a degree it is certainly more than entry level pay at most jobs. Also I think a lot of people are afraid of entering a new profession at the bottom of the ladder e.g. Captain of the ship down to new guy in the office.

Buggington, don't want to dampen your spirits but the pilot profession like a lot of them these days is experiencing big changes. Ever decreasing pay, less and less suitable job opportunities, commuting, away from family and friends, no job security and the cabin crew seem to be getting more and more ugly (ok last one was a joke)
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 09:57
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The links were really just to demonstrate you can do pretty much anything, and that pilots are quite good at doing their own thing (focussed, motivated, goal oriented etc). Which is kind of what the OP was asking - is the Pilot skillset you have usefull elsewhere? Not really. Is the Pilot mentality/personality usefull elsewhere? Absolutely. I really wasn't suggesting that you immediately start a pig farm Stocious . Unless you want to - in which case my point is you CAN if you really wanted to make it work.

And no, you don't need a pot of Money to make it happen - I didn't. But you have to be passionate about what you do to be really effective at it - and that's the most important point.

And yes, owning a business can be hard in the first few years. it's not without it's challenges - but it's nice to have a challenge where it's entirely up to you to make a difference. Unlike continually battling management and deplorable (I like that word now) Ts&Cs, bad rosters etc.

My advice isnt necessarily to go a start a business by the way. My advice is to look at what you enjoy, or think you might enjoy and go from there.
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 11:06
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Not put off...

Oh dear, these posts don't make pleasant reading for someone planning to leave a career and become an airline pilot (because my Class 1 has been denied but surgery will soon make it possible, hopefully).

To those who have dreams of flying as an airline pilot, I would say go for it, you only live once and if you don't go for it you'll regret it for the rest of your life. People who have been working in an industry for some time get jaded and sometimes loose their perspective.

As for wanting to leave aviation and try something else, how about journalism? If you have a good nose for stories and can write in plain English, you could use you flying and aviation expertise to build contacts and write the odd article or sell the odd story idea. Journalism is much tougher to break into than aviation, but if you're good, then who knows, someone might offer you a job as a reporter or feature writer once you've done a certain amount of freelance work for them. I'm thinking of the specialist press to begin with but it could lead to the mainstream press/tv if you're particularly good. It's something you could do in tandem, so you don't leave one career before establishing yourself in another.
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 14:55
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People who have been working in an industry for some time get jaded and sometimes loose their perspective.
Tizer. For many in the current climate it's less about losing perspective, and more about losing their jobs. Are you seriously saying that the scores of pilots facing redundancy right now have simply lost perspective? Perhaps if you put down those glossy CTC brochures which you're struggling to read and looked at what's actually going on you'd appreciate that a little more.

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Old 26th Feb 2013, 08:48
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To those experienced pilots that are looking to leave the flightdeck or perhaps have lost their job or medical, the AAIB at Farnborough are recruiting Air Accident Investigators (Operations) which require ATPL and command experience. Seems reasonably paid (probably doesn’t compare to a skippers salary) and I guess that the work would be pretty varied and interesting. The advert is on their website and will appear in Flight Magazine, if not today then pretty soon.
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Old 27th Feb 2013, 01:03
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Interesting thread! A considerable amount of this generation of pilots are thinking like N747EX. And that includes myself...

I was made redundant in 2010 from a good UK career airline, I was lucky enough to have never been out of work but generally had a miserable time of it becoming ever disillusioned with the industry as a whole! Poor managers, poor rosters and the ever expanding attitude of "pilot bashing"!

I can totally relate to Clunk 1001 post #10, spot on!

Rather than quit, I decided to do the "Gap-Year" that I never had! I'm flying a 767 to places in the Far East based in The Maldives! I'm learning and seeing new things and loving the change and adventure of it all! Money is good and I'm enjoying myself again...

Just food for thought, its another angle on getting your passion for it all back, grabbing what this job and industry has to offer and it's stories to tell come retirement!
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Old 27th Feb 2013, 04:25
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I just bought a bar on a tropical island, so when all the fun of flying is over, I will just go surfing on the beach and live off the income of the bar
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 14:09
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I remember a person who did the flight school with me, he paid the T/R on the 737 and hours then he got a job in Holland for a company with the 737 after 2 or 3 years he was fed-up and he stopped to be a pilot.

He went back to university, graduated in economy and now he is working in Amsterdam for an american corporation.

Money has never been an issue in his family!
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Old 5th Mar 2013, 15:42
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Might I suggest something in aircraft leasing? Or engine leasing. Can be extremely lucrative and the experience of being a pilot is an obvious advantage.

Another suggestion is teaching aviation English to non native speakers. Can involve travel but there are places where the students go to the college. Not sure if it's that lucrative.

I am always banging on to young potential pilots that they should go to college first. This is an example of why it's a good idea. Even if you succeed in getting the job there may come a time when it loses it's appeal. If you have an MBA or something similar combined with your pilot experience you can often be appealing to a wider cross range of businesses.

The reason I emphasise that is because my main experience is as a pilot, unless you count factory work and an obsolete job I had when I was working my way up. I couldn't even get a barman job now.
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 17:29
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Dear all,

I've changed changed career several times in my life .
Starting work as a cabinet maker at the age of 20 - after mil svc ( no UCLA studies in architecture as planned due to family reasons), studied economics in the evenings after work, finished with a degree, cnld cabinet work and started flying, finished wih an ATPL, worked as an underpaid FO- sacked - joined the dole- worked as a flt dispatcher, rsgd - worked as a flt ops mngr- rsgd -currently working in another biz (9-5 office job) and hoping that one day in the near future - I'll be able decide personally -if - and - when - or- for whom -I work (spend the precious lifetime) -again in another biz

all the best
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Old 6th Mar 2013, 18:14
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Not going anywhere now (happy as ever with airline flying), but if, hypothetically, I had to...

Recently I started toying with an idea of a career at sea (I'm a vagabond by nature. any 9-5 job would kill me quickly and idea of coming back home everyday for the rest of my life fills me with dread).

Anyone can tell me the state of shipping industry nowadays? How long would it take for an airline captain to convert into a ship captain? (or an officer?) Hope at least some of the skills would be transferable?


Last edited by Stuck_in_an_ATR; 6th Mar 2013 at 18:15.
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Old 11th Mar 2013, 17:34
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I had a merchant navy career in the past, it was more on the technical than operational side but I saw a lot of what went on in all departments. First of all a Career at sea in either the engineering or deck/navigational side of things has a completely different progression path from aviation. Starting from scratch you could expect 15 years at the very least to become a captain but that would depend to some degree on the type of vessels you worked on, but even that is quite an optimistic timeline.

The thinking in the maritime industry is that experience is still the overwhelmingly most important factor in what turns out a great seafarer, while aviation has moved more towards aptitude and targeted training in recent times.

That having been said it can be a very rewarding career if you stick it out.

To train as a deck officer, you first of all have to find a company willing to sponsor your training, as there is a requirement to log a certain amount of sea time during your progression. Your first step would be Navigational Officer of the watch (OOW). AFAIK there is a requirement for a certain amount of sea time on deck/bridge before you start the college phase.

You would then work your way up through 3rd Mate, 2nd Mate, Chief and finally Captain. Bear in mind that I'm referring only to passing exams and orals.

Some of the skills and knowledge would be quite transferrable, particularly weather and cartography.

There are jobs in the maritime sector out there. I'm currently trying to get back into it but they often require specific skills and experience on the technical side that I don't have. Good deck and engineering officers are always in demand.

This is the website you need to check out

Careers At Sea - Merchant Navy Career Opportunities -

Good Luck
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