Airline pilot said pick a different career!


Well-Known Member
Well, my sister got married in Iowa last weekend. So anyway, I flew America West from Phoenix to Omaha and back. After the plane landed in Omaha, I asked to take a look at the cockpit since the pilots didn't look busy.

They said "sure", and I talked to the right seat pilot for a while. I told him I was a flight instructor and he said he went that route too and had years of C-150 time!

Anyway, then he has asked how old I was and if I had a degree. I said, yes I had a degree and that I was almost 27.

He then said seriously, "Oh, well you're getting to be one of the older guys."

And then he told me that there was no money in this career anymore, that you are away from home alot, and that I should go into finance or get a different degree. He said airline pilots are getting lower paychecks and terrible retirement plans because the pilot unions are being overtaken. Basically, he said there isn't as much future in this career field as there used to be.

He then told me, "Well sorry, I guess you wanted to see some of the control panel and you ended up getting a lecture on your career."

So it certainly was a disappointment to meet an airline pilots and then have them say that the career is not very reliable anymore.
I'll stick with the pilot career for now, but I know if I was married or had a wife and family to support this career probably would not be practical at all. You pay tens of thousands of dollars to get flight training, and then up making high school wages for about the first five years of your flying career.

So just a warning out there to everyone I guess, don't believe the hype. This is not a very lucrative career, and you aren't going to be able to be an airline captain in five years making six figures.

If anybody has any thoughts on this post away. I've heard the aviation industry is feast or famine, but it looks like for pilots, at least, the feast is not going to exist anymore.
Well you all, already know how I feel.

But it wasn't like this during the late 90's. After 9/11 is when things went down the crapper. And that was an HP pilot, which has a very low pay for their pilots, and horrible benifits, pilots from DAL, UAL, NWA are higher paid, but I don't know about benifits. I heard somewhere US Airways cut the pension for their pilots whatever that means? Anyway, yep, the job is no longer what it was. It's too bad
I think when it's all said and done, retired pilots look back on their careers, and despite hardships, wouldn't trade it for the world. These days, there are few people who are entirely happy and satisfied with their career. Every person is different though...
If you look at the IT industry you'd have to say that's in a similar state of condition to airline industry. And then there is the law profession with more people unemployed than in any other profession in the United States.

When the economy picks up so will the aviation industry along with all of the other industries. I think it's just a cycle that happens every 10 or so years......
I think those kind of people are the ones who got into it for the money and not for the many other things aviation has to offer.

Trucking is almost the same in that regard. I know alot of truckers didnt get into just because to drive but more for the interesting people they meet and the things they see,

Every industry has people exactly like this pilot. I can guarantee you there are people who get into finance for the HUGE money that was there. Now that the market crashed, everyone is being layed off, people are saying there is no more money in these fields... sounds the same huh? (been there, worked at the CBOE and talked to plenty of people who felt this way). Once the economy continues to turn around the money starts to flow back in it will pick up. Things will improve. If y ou only in this industry for money, then I agree that you should look elsewhere. You need to realize there will be up time and down times and you have to be able to handle the downtimes. I'm up for it as I love flying and the ability to do it for a living. I don't care where i end up. As long as I can make it financially (meaning leave at a decent standard of living, I'd settle for under 100/year even after YEARS of flying.) I don't need to be making 6 digits to be happy. My wife would agree on that as well. She's understanding of the whole situation and the way the aviation industry behaves.
I agree that there are some embittered people out there flying airliners. Keep in mind, however, that most of them probably started out with a very positive attitude as well. At 300 hours, you haven't seen the worst this industry has to offer. That said, I think most of you folks are on the right track. Don't hinge your happiness on the left seat of a 747, or making $300,000 a year. Even when those things were a possibility, they wouldn't necessarily make you happy. The recent downturn in the industry will continue to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
If you love what you are doing, who cares if you don't make a lot of money? We all need to pay the bills but no matter how much you make it never seems to be enough anyhow. I'm hoping to make enough to keep my head above water and any thing extra will be welcome,but more importantly, I am hoping to do what I enjoy the most, flying!
I can honestly say that is I poured blood sweat and tears into this career, lived as a broke CFI/regional pilot for years to be reward with, being treated like a second class citizen from the TSA, worrying about being laid off and not being able to feed my family, struggling to meet the mortgage, hearing how airlines are having tough times yet you are always full and management are making very good money, having to worry about friends not as lucky as you and are out of a job, being away from home days at a time, and the list goes on, I would suggest people to enter with extreme caution.

Many of us think/thought flying was a sweet deal especially during the late 1990's, now we see it very different. I am currently 20 years old working in finance and making more money then I would be in 5 years if I pursued aviation.
Yep, who the hell wants to sit at a boring desk all day? Or sign papers, look at a computer screen. Honestly, I wouldn't do that for a million bucks. Well that for a year, then leave, and spend it on flying
But anyway, what does anything else have to offer than flying for a career doesn't?

And another thing, of course people are going to see the "real" industry. We had a freakin attack on our country, people died, companies went bankrupt, we lost money, we went through a war, some states have horrible governors (HAHA) that don't know jack about running a state.

Do you honestly thinkg people would think what they think if 9/11 didn't happen? And the airlines actually made money?
There are even porn stars that want to cuddle and talk occasionally!
If you are in any career just for the money or perks, get out. You will never be happy or satisfied no matter how much you make.

My eldest son went to college and majored in history. It was a passion for him. When he graduated in 1996, like many others at the time, he was swept up in the tech revolution taking place. Rather than pursue graduate studies he took a sales job with a computer company, and found out he was pretty good at it.

Over the next few years he married and had two children. His salary kept rising and so did the bills. Then the bubble burst. He was one of the fortunate ones. Many friends and collegues were laid off, but he kept earning promotions and a fatter paycheck. And I knew he was miserable.

Last summer he called me and said he wanted to talk. He had just been offered another promotion but would have to move. It was to a city that he and his wife had visited many times and enjoyed. They had some friends there. He could expect a salary almost double what he was currently making, and was in six-figures already. I said I'd hate to see him go but I understood I also sensed there was something else. He said to me, " know I really don't like my job, I never really have. I'm good at it, but..." and his voice trailed off. Then he said to me, " always told me to like what I do because I'd be doing it for a long time." "Yes"' I said, " I meant it then and I mean it now".

Anyway, I have to admit that I was not too surprised when he called a couple of weeks later to say that he'd walked into his bosses office that morning and resigned. He said it was almost worth all those years to see the flabbergasted look on her face.

He's gone back to school to get his teaching certificate. He wants to teach high school and coach basketball. Its what he's always wanted to do. He's trading 250K/yr for 30K/yr. But I've never seen him happier.

Makes a dad proud.
As people are saying.. It's hard to do but.. Just don't get caught up in the politics..

Don't get in the industry for the money or image, or you'll crash and burn (not literally)..

I'm hopeing I'll have a good time as a pilot..

I know I'm off to a good step when I hear some complaining about having to work as a CFI and put in their time, when I'd be the happiest guy on earth to work as a CFI right now
You can say the same thing for any career you want to these days. No jobs are safe. Hell, even the so called "safe" computer engineering and software design jobs are being imported to India and Russia! And CEOs, in order to fund their obscene paychecks and bonuses, are cutting benefits and pensions everywhere. That's if you even have a pension. Most places just give you a match on your 401k and that's it.
So talking to a pilot in the cockpit leads more credence? You talk to several airline pilots here daily.

If you have noticed, the high time guys seem to be telling you "Hey its not what we thought it would be."

Don't do it for money or lifestyle because it aint there. Don't do it for love of flying because that may go away.

Do it because you are good at it and you feel you are contributing to safety. That's the best reason out there.
"Don't do it for love of flying because that may go away.

Do it because you are good at it and you feel you are contributing to safety. That's the best reason out there."

I disagree... Doing a job just because you happen to be good at can lead to a miserable time. You gotta have fun!

Love of flying for me, if that ever goes away I'll find another.

Good advice that tends to get lost on the young sometimes. I was just as guilty at listening to my father on many occasions.

The problem is that reality has a nasty way of interfering with young, idealistic view points when we first start out deciding what career field to follow, especially aviation. What we perceive looking from the outside in, is not always the case, as I'm sure you know.

My "perceived" grandiose airline pilot thoughts, while growing up, was of the 1950's steely eyed, peppered haired, salty olé dog Captain flying the Super Connies across the pond. He relied on celestial navigation, deadreckoning, systems knowledge beyond what is required of today's airman, and thousands upon thousands of seasoned hours to obtain the level of Captain. He was a true sky king.

The reality is a very watered down version of that perception. What I fell in love with while growing up was the "perceived" idea of what airplanes and airline flying were all about. Most of us want, or either pursue, a field that we think we'll love to do forever. A small percentage of us actually find it. Some of us think we found it until years later when we discover it wasn't what we thought it would be. Times change.

I don't know what else I'd do if I couldn't fly for a living. I hope I never have to find out. I do know that every profession has it's ups and downs. It's not always a bed of roses and the grass is not always green. There are going to be good years and bad. The bad years make you savor the good years even more. Don't completely immerse yourself into any profession at the exclusion of family, good friends and other enjoyable pursuits. It ain't worth it! Unfortunately, you won't see or understand that until you've done it.

Fly because you love it. And, when you reach your ultimate goals, don't lose sight of why you got into it in the first place...many have.
Every business has its pros and cons and if there isn't one that does let me know! For some of us flying is what we are good at, so we make it our career.