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Reality check - from someone not in the know

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Reality check - from someone not in the know

Old 1st Nov 2017, 14:12
  #1 (permalink)  
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Reality check - from someone not in the know

My first post on here and most likely my last depending on how well it goes down! I give it 10 minutes before it's locked or deleted on site...

I have been researching and scouring the internet and other sources for the past month or so on how to go about actually realising my dream of becoming an airline pilot. Quite clearly the main obstacle for most people is cost. Anyone who isn't phased by this probably doesn't need to be in employment in order to enjoy flying.

Between integrated, modular, pay-as-you-go, sponsored, non-sponsored, whitetails (still not really sure what that means) and BA's oh-so-generous offer of give us £115k and we'll give you a job (no thanks), I've come to the conclusion that flight training is something of a false economy and as Duncan Banatyne would say if you asked him...."I'm oot".

The reason for this...I don't think being a pilot is a great job anymore. If one of the best case scenarios for someone that say, goes down the modular route, is they invest £80k+ in achieving a B737 type rating and get a job with Ryanair, what do you actually get? A job where on top of everything else they actually make you pay for your uniform and don't even provide you with water? (if the headlines are to be believed). It's absolute nonsense! Not even a free shirt and tie after you've spent £80k training to do a job they need you to do to in order to run their business! And like I said this is one of the best outcomes you can hope for.

I don't think that people should not have to contribute anything at all to their own career development, but it has to be proportionate to what you expect to earn. I can't imagine lawyers, accountants, doctors etc spend anywhere near this amount.

I still have a passion for flying and my aim is to get my PPL and go from there. If I go further I will only be aiming for maybe a FI rating or I could just endlessly wait for a job ferrying skydivers around.

The reason I'm typing this is simply because I'm angry. Angry that airlines take such advantage of people with a passion for aviation. Such an outlay for your own training with no guarantees simply wouldn't happen in any other job so why pilots? I guess I'm appealing to people in my shoes to really think about what they're doing. Only when there is suddenly a shortage of people willing to do what I've described will airlines take responsibility and go back to paying (not lending!) a decent proportion of the training.
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Old 1st Nov 2017, 15:15
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I see no reason at all why your post should be deleted? Perhaps it would have been suited to the other of the 2 pilot wannabe forums but the mods will decide that.

I'd agree with most of what you have said, except where you seem to say those that can get the cash wouldn't need to be paid if they can do so. I may have misunderstood you but in the event I haven't, that is entirely untrue for practically everyone I know, including myself. Everyone who finds the cash has either borrowed it from their parents or a bank and it will need to be paid back, or they have saved up for years to pay for it ... and they would need a decent return on their investment for it to pay off. Those who are so rich they wouldn't need to be paid wouldn't really want to be pilots I shouldn't think ... they'd fly their own private jet.

Ryanair are a stepping stone for most and most other airlines at that level are better by way of terms and conditions. But yes, getting Ryanair would be viewed as a great outcome ... because you get experience on a good aircraft with an airline that has an outstanding safety record ... and with that experience you can go onto something galaxies better. Despite that though, the issue with ryanair is not really the pay, it's more the conditions from what I understand of it all, you aren't gonna starve if you stay at ryanair and get a permanent contract. You'll still be miles ahead of the rest of the population in terms of earnings.

About the salaries across the board. Yes at the bottom it's nothing special at all. But once you start getting experience under your belt things can improve very quickly. After about 5 years at most you can realistically expect salaries of around £70,000+ depending on what company you are in. You can exceed £100,000 in more than a few airlines as a FO after more experience. Once you hit command then pay is unlikely to become an issue I can assure you. When you consider the vast majority of the population (who spend £45,000 on a uni degree that just gathers dust) will not touch anything near that pay for their entire lifetimes ... it is not that bad.

Browse for some of the Chinese contracts around these days too, I came across one offering $348,000 for captains about two days ago.

It all comes down to perspective, if you think because you put down £80k on training one year you want at least £80k back the next, then that's not how it works in this business at all. It takes time but it does build up to quite high figures that would make it worth it.

Now having said all that, if your sole aim in life is to make money, piloting ain't the game. But if you have a burning passion to fly and also want a decent lifestyle, then no, flying will not leave you on the breadline. And if you can see past the that faces us at the start then it is very worth it.

About the doctors and lawyers ... how much does it take to qualify as a lawyer or doctor? Not sarcasm but a genuine question, aren't law schools and medical schools notoriously expensive?
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Old 1st Nov 2017, 15:54
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I can't imagine lawyers, accountants, doctors etc spend anywhere near this amount.
No, you're right - most of them spend a lot more. Some doctors who get to have Mister instead of Doctor in front of their name spend double.

Some people forget that airlines are a business. They exist to make money, not to make hopes and dreams come true. Our entire western society is based on the acquisition of more things, and for those at the top, money talks. Airlines do what they do because someone tried a new way to hire people, and a bunch of pilots jumped at the chance. The airline realized they could save a ton of money, so they took something else away. Still more people jumped at the chance.

So you want to blame someone? Blame the pilots who sold their souls just so they could fly something with jets under the wing a couple years earlier than they otherwise would have.

Don't ever blame the airlines for doing what they are expected to do. If I were a shareholder in an airline, I would want that airline to make whatever smart business decisions are necessary to protect my investment. If I was an executive and could make a group of so-called professionals drop everything, then does that make me bad at my job, or good?

I say so-called professional because do you think a lawyer or doctor would permit their wages and working conditions to be eroded like us pilots have? Not a chance. Their professional integrity is worth more than something as silly as money.

Now, you say you have a passion for flying. Don't apply at the airlines. Go do something else. There are a lot of flying jobs in aviation that don't involve Boeing or Airbus products. Airline flying is not flying. It's button pushing and bus driving. Go fly a Beaver in Canada or a Twin Otter or Caravan in Africa. That is flying, and you'll enjoy it more when you look back and realize 20 years have passed and you've seen really cool things instead of hotel rooms and restaurants.

And yes, this happens in every industry. The pilots who think otherwise are naive. But, if you truly believe that being a pilot is no longer special, then you have not sat at a desk in a go-nowhere job staring at the cubicle wall for years on end, wondering whether it is raining or snowing, daylight or dark outside. Go do that for 10 years, then come back and try and tell me there is still not something special about flying over a mountain range or seeing the cities of the world from the air.

Perspective my friend. You're at the beginning, looking down a long, hard road of sacrifice. I'm out the other end where I've paid my debts and dues and am starting to enjoy my career and the success that comes with it. It is worth it, but 20 years in has seen a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Realizing your dreams is not cheap, and it gets harder every year. I never sold my soul. I was never willing to work for less than I thought I was worth and that resulted in turning down a lot of opportunities. As a result, it took me 10 years longer to "make it." And I couldn't be happier.

So answer this: at 38 or 40 do you want to look back and realize you've made it and it's relatively clear sailing to retirement, or do you want to be sitting in that cubicle, staring at airplane pictures and watching YouTube videos wishing you had just taken that step?

Trust me on this: 20 years goes by in a blink. Yesterday it was 1997. I have no clue how 2017 came along so quickly.
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Old 1st Nov 2017, 15:58
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I guess I worded the start wrong, essentially what I'm saying is if you are already rich enough to not even worry about the cost of training then it's likely you could better spend that money flying recreationally without the pressures of needing a job to pay for your training - that probably still doesn't make sense for which I apologise!

What you state sounds very positive, but again you're talking best case scenarios. There must be countless fATPL pilots out there that may never even get the Ryanair job and it's this risk that makes me think it's absolutely not worth it. Realistically, if you don't get a job within 6 months of completing a type rating, what hope do you have? You're left with nothing except insurmountable debt because flying qualifications aren't much good for anything else.

Regarding other professions, well doctors obviously have to pay for medical school which in the UK is about £10k a year for five years, which is the standard university tuition fee. However it's covered (or used to be anyway) by government student finance that ensures they don't pay back a penny until they are in employment, and even then it is a manageable salary sacrifice. So yes, in the long run it's still a lot of money but much more easy to come by plus £50k is still a damn sight less than £115k, and doctors would be in time able to achieve the salaries you just quoted.
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Old 1st Nov 2017, 16:12
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Originally Posted by +TSRA View Post
No, you're right - most of them spend a lot more.
Go fly a Beaver in Canada or a Twin Otter or Caravan in Africa. That is flying, and you'll enjoy it more when you look back and realize 20 years have passed and you've seen really cool things instead of hotel rooms and restaurants.
100% with you there. I'm not passionate about flying jet engine aircraft, I just want to fly and if I could do what you just described whilst supporting my family then I would do that over airline work any day. Hence my comment in my original post about aiming to be an FI or fly skydivers around. That is the sort of work I think I'd really enjoy. Just not sure it will pay the bills.

Oh and in twenty years time I'll be asking how did I get to 50 so quick, I'm not the youngest of budding pilots. I've got a mortgage and by April I'll have two kids, so you can see where my frustrations are coming from.

I also agree with you about not blaming airlines. It's mostly why I posted the topic. It would be good if passionate aviators weren't so willing to sell themselves down the river....
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Old 1st Nov 2017, 18:09
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My honest opinion about being an airline pilot is nobody should be wanting to be a pilot because it looks cool or sounds cool they should be doing it because their passionate about Aviation and want to do what ever it takes so succeed at it.

It will become a normal job after a while and i'm sure lots of people get bored very fast with flying when their heart just wasn't in it to begin with.

Working for any airline is a privilege that not many people get to experience and being paid to fly jets is something you dream about as a kid and those lucky enough to make it happen are in a very good position in life
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Old 1st Nov 2017, 21:59
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...and want to do what ever it takes so succeed at it. [sic]
I'm not so sure I agree, although I know what you're trying to get at.

People wishing to become airline pilots do have to make sacrifices that are not necessarily required in other industries, this is true (although it is not true that aviation is the exclusive placeholder in this regard). However, to achieve the dream at all costs doing "whatever it takes" is what has driven our WACONS down as pilots do everything and anything to get the seat.

This is why I alluded earlier that we can no longer consider ourselves as a professional group. Too many of our comrades have chosen to undercut everyone else. They forgave any professional integrity by choosing to work under ever decreasing working conditions. At some point, every other professional group has said "no, WE ARE worth more than that so I won't take this job" and let a position hang in the wind until the WACONS were improved.

Not so for pilots. Many of our brethren have said "to hell with everyone else; If I don't take this, someone else will. I AM worth these conditions."
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 06:18
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Tagzy,

Reading your post this morning over my coffee depressed me. Whilst I agree with 90% of what your saying, the overall tone of your message was a fairly bleak one.

You are not alone in harboring a dream of a career in aviation. Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with planes and aviation. I have told anyone and everyone since the age of 5 that "I want to be a pilot". I convinced myself in my teenage years that the likelihood of achieving this was minimal, and then watched with frustration and dismay as the barrier to entry to my dream profession became gradually more unattainable as the airlines did away with cadet schemes etc, then berated myself for not joining the RAF/Air Corp! Coming from a single parent family, I then became increasingly more bitter as I watched people my age being able to afford the 120k in order to go fly at an integrated school.

For family reasons, I had to drop out of uni after my second year, however this put me on to a career path which I am still doing today. In early 2016, and in my mid twenties I decided enough was enough. You live once and I knew I would never forgive myself if I didnt pursue my dream of flying. I started my PPL and after my first few hours in the sky knew "this is what I need to be doing". Like you however, I knew I realistically couldnt afford it at the time. I couldnt get a loan and had minimal savings. I took the decision to move abroad then with the sole intention of saving enough to finish a modular ATPL. I work in professional consultancy, and I'm extremely fortunate to earn a very good salary which has allowed me to save. Early next year, I intend to return to the UK to do my modular ATPL full time and intensively.

I appreciate that our personal circumstances are wildly varying. I am single, no dependents. However my point is thus; Don't pursue a career in aviation based on a perceived ROI. Do it because you are passionate about something you love.

I am well aware that it is a huge outlay initially for minimal initial return. If I am lucky enough to even get an FI job after training, I will be taking more than a third of a pay cut to what I currently earn. I dont care though. I'm doing it cause I know its what must be done. I would never forgive myself if I didnt.

I sincerely hope you make it work my friend. Its an incredibly tough industry to crack and blatantly obvious from scouring these forums regularly that there is a lot of negativity and confusion about trying to 'crack the nut'. Lets keep the chins high and support each other as we all try to make it doing something we love.

Cheesy I'm aware, but I'll leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs. I feel its pertinent;

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 08:15
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Fair to say, like a lot of jobs, its become a race to the bottom as far was working conditions are concerned when it comes to new entrants. I'm surprised there aren't 737 pilots working for free (or even paying their employer for the flying hours!). I'm lucky enough to be in a job where we haven't sold ourselves out. There are definitely people out there that would do what I do for free so would certainly take half pay and less benefits/perks. But we've successfully defended them so far and they enjoy the same as us when they join.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 09:48
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Realistically, if you don't get a job within 6 months of completing a type rating, what hope do you have?
NEVER do a type rating without a job offer attached. Lots of airlines these days require you to pay for the TR but that is after you have passed the rest of their selection process.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 10:21
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But how many jobs are out there for pilots with just an fATPL and no experience and no type rating?
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 11:21
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Short answer....look outside of Europe.
I did and never looked back.
Ever.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 11:38
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Originally Posted by +TSRA View Post
I'm not so sure I agree, although I know what you're trying to get at.

People wishing to become airline pilots do have to make sacrifices that are not necessarily required in other industries, this is true (although it is not true that aviation is the exclusive placeholder in this regard). However, to achieve the dream at all costs doing "whatever it takes" is what has driven our WACONS down as pilots do everything and anything to get the seat.

This is why I alluded earlier that we can no longer consider ourselves as a professional group. Too many of our comrades have chosen to undercut everyone else. They forgave any professional integrity by choosing to work under ever decreasing working conditions. At some point, every other professional group has said "no, WE ARE worth more than that so I won't take this job" and let a position hang in the wind until the WACONS were improved.

Not so for pilots. Many of our brethren have said "to hell with everyone else; If I don't take this, someone else will. I AM worth these conditions."
This is not entirely true, there are many fields in which the T&Cs have significantly degraded over the years.

Well, not to the point that they end up paying to work, but the typical design office engineer's purchasing power was divided by two over 50 years.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 12:23
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Tagzy, get yourself over to the railway! Plenty of good roles where your training would be paid for and your salary would be good. There's a fair few signallers who get more than £30k during training, drivers get decent money during training too. No shortage of applicants but the employers want people with life experience and they pay good money for that reason.

Back to aviation, the main thing that troubles me with the current environment is the lack of social mobility. I was reading an interview with a well-known former BA captain, he grew up in a mining village with a very working class background, got a scholarship to university where he ended up doing a PhD and flying in the University Air Squadron, before making it onto BOAC's sponsored programme. If someone from that background applied today, they might well achieve the required aptitude, though finances would prevent them from realising their potential. Hardly progress is it?

There were some decent training schemes open in the past few years, the Aer Lingus one was the pick of the bunch but no-one knows when, or even if, it will re-open. As someone pointed out in another thread, one step forward, three steps back.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 13:32
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Originally Posted by +TSRA View Post
I'm not so sure I agree, although I know what you're trying to get at.

People wishing to become airline pilots do have to make sacrifices that are not necessarily required in other industries, this is true (although it is not true that aviation is the exclusive placeholder in this regard). However, to achieve the dream at all costs doing "whatever it takes" is what has driven our WACONS down as pilots do everything and anything to get the seat.

This is why I alluded earlier that we can no longer consider ourselves as a professional group. Too many of our comrades have chosen to undercut everyone else. They forgave any professional integrity by choosing to work under ever decreasing working conditions. At some point, every other professional group has said "no, WE ARE worth more than that so I won't take this job" and let a position hang in the wind until the WACONS were improved.

Not so for pilots. Many of our brethren have said "to hell with everyone else; If I don't take this, someone else will. I AM worth these conditions."
I totally agree with what you're saying but unless there is a pilot shortage on the horizon and airlines are desperate for pilots it probably won't improve for a while.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 16:12
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This is not entirely true, there are many fields in which the T&Cs have significantly degraded over the years.

Well, not to the point that they end up paying to work, but the typical design office engineer's purchasing power was divided by two over 50 years.
That's why I said aviation is not exclusive and that it has happened to other industries. However, engineers have stood their ground, as have doctors, lawyers, and a number of other groups, when the conditions became too poor for them to accept. Not so for pilots.

I totally agree with what you're saying but unless there is a pilot shortage on the horizon and airlines are desperate for pilots it probably won't improve for a while.
So make the pilot shortage a reality by not applying for the jobs. Force the issue.

I know this sounds hard, but I never applied to a company where my pay would be less than I thought the position was worth. Paying for a type rating to get the job lessens the professional status of pilots. It is required training the airline must provide, but so long as a single pilot agrees to pay for the type rating, the airlines will continue to do it. Again, we can't blame the airlines; all they're doing is ensuring the company remains profitable. If a pilot agrees to those terms, well sucks to be them. They're the sucker, not the airline.

If it could be agreed between all pilots that we would never apply to a company where paying for a type rating was required for the job, then you will see the forced pilot shortage and an immediate improvement in WACONS.

It would take about six months to a year for the airline to start feeling the pinch, and maybe another year for them to get the picture that they could not go back to their old ways, but if pilots continue to wait for the looming pilot shortage, then airlines will do whatever it takes to ensure it remains looming.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 22:31
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Originally Posted by Tagzy View Post
What you state sounds very positive, but again you're talking best case scenarios. There must be countless fATPL pilots out there that may never even get the Ryanair job and it's this risk that makes me think it's absolutely not worth it. Realistically, if you don't get a job within 6 months of completing a type rating, what hope do you have? You're left with nothing except insurmountable debt because flying qualifications aren't much good for anything else.
I would like to think that if you don't get a job after completing training, then there were simply other better candidates than you. It's not about what qualifications you have.... everyone else applying for the job has those qualifications as well, or even more! You have to present yourself better than the other guy!

Originally Posted by Tagzy View Post
Regarding other professions, well doctors obviously have to pay for medical school which in the UK is about £10k a year for five years, which is the standard university tuition fee. However it's covered (or used to be anyway) by government student finance that ensures they don't pay back a penny until they are in employment, and even then it is a manageable salary sacrifice. So yes, in the long run it's still a lot of money but much more easy to come by plus £50k is still a damn sight less than £115k, and doctors would be in time able to achieve the salaries you just quoted.
Um, no. Medical school is five years, yes, but when you finish that, you're only on step one and chances are that nurses who have done 3 years of schooling earn more than you do. It'll take at least another 5-10 years of study, training, test-taking, and work to be at the earning potential we all think about when someone mentions the word "doctor." The guy with "Dr." in front of his name that is out of 5 years of medical school and £50K in debt is a deer in the headlights in a busy ward or operating theatre, and definitely is nowhere near the payscales you're thinking of

Originally Posted by RomeoTango89 View Post
I appreciate that our personal circumstances are wildly varying. I am single, no dependents. However my point is thus; Don't pursue a career in aviation based on a perceived ROI. Do it because you are passionate about something you love.
The point is --- the ROI is EXACTLY one of the things some of us have to consider. Some of us have to get a loan and depending on the length of the loan and the interests on the loan, that may very well be a big factor in deciding whether or not to pursue this dream. Being passionate in aviation is one thing, doing it while the debts keep piling up and constantly failing on your obligations is another.
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Old 2nd Nov 2017, 23:27
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Originally Posted by +TSRA View Post
...
This is why I alluded earlier that we can no longer consider ourselves as a professional group. Too many of our comrades have chosen to undercut everyone else. They forgave any professional integrity by choosing to work under ever decreasing working conditions. At some point, every other professional group has said "no, WE ARE worth more than that so I won't take this job" and let a position hang in the wind until the WACONS were improved.

Not so for pilots. Many of our brethren have said "to hell with everyone else; If I don't take this, someone else will. I AM worth these conditions."
I disagree with that. It's not pilot's fault. It's because of a new management process. It's name is "globalisation"

Ryanair hired Some brasilian captains. without the EU, Irish pilots would have been able to organise, syndicate, and fight for their rights. But unionise, or just organise with the French, Italians, Bulgarians, Hungarians- etc is impossible.
That's what Europe has been made for.
And for love between people of course, as they sold it it to us.

Back to the , i'm writing these lines from my hotel room in Malta, with a nice view on the boats, we fly to switzerland tomorrow.
I took my first flying lesson 5 years ago. I was 36 of age at this time.
Had to work 12 years and be lucky to get the money for my training. And learn a bit of english as well.
Ryanair and so declined my application, straight after school. Even though you pay for the interview ! I find way better, i was lucky.
I fly corporate jet, paid for my TR once the contract was signed off. Made a loan for it, flight training cost me all I had. Still paying back so far. But things get better, i make double money than in my previous job, and can expect to double it again in the next decade if everything goes well and upgrade to the left seat.

And best of all, I don't work anymore !
I fly now.
I enjoy every moment. Well, almost. Wake up at 03am for exemple, no. But once i'm in the plane, I really don't feel i'm working. It can be challenging and demanding sometimes, but in a good way. It's a positive stress. In my previous job, it was a very negative and destructive stress.

Got some doctors and lawers friends. Money wise it's pretty close from my experience.
But we're living the life of james bond compared to them. Maybe not at Ryanair...
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Old 4th Nov 2017, 15:12
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Originally Posted by Tagzy View Post
Regarding other professions, well doctors obviously have to pay for medical school which in the UK is about £10k a year for five years, which is the standard university tuition fee. However it's covered (or used to be anyway) by government student finance that ensures they don't pay back a penny until they are in employment, and even then it is a manageable salary sacrifice.
Scottish nationals studying at a Scottish university get their education for FREE - just saying

I know that wasn’t the most constructive comment but I had to correct the slight inaccuracy above.
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Old 4th Nov 2017, 21:59
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Originally Posted by Magpie32 View Post
Scottish nationals studying at a Scottish university get their education for FREE - just saying

I know that wasn’t the most constructive comment but I had to correct the slight inaccuracy above.
Its not free if someone else is paying for it

Couldn’t resist!
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