How’s it looking out there for a career changer?

Timmy Tucker

Well-Known Member
This section of the forums was getting a little musty, so I thought I’d freshen it up in here. I’ve been a member for a long time, but haven’t posted regularly in 5-6 years.

After 25 years of (mostly) construction, I’ve decided that I am absolutely done with it. I am changing careers no matter what, and I just so happen to be in a place where I can pull off making the switch to aviation. I have the financial resources and the time available to finish my flight training and get it done quickly. I have a spouse that can support our family financially, so I don’t have to sweat that either. I’m already a PPL/MEL sitting on about 80TT (although my most recent PIC is old enough to buy us all a round of drinks). The downside is that moving isn’t really an option for the foreseeable future.

So here’s my question… What kind of work is available for someone with a freshly minted CMEL? I know the industry as a whole took a serious beating over the last year, but I’m not really sure how things are looking now. I have no qualms with commuting or working seasonal jobs that would keep me away for months at a time. I would love to get into aerial survey, can you still do that with a wet ticket?

My ultimate goal would be to end up somewhere in the ballpark of air ambulance or a corporate flying gig. I don’t have any desire to go to the 121 route.
 
MEL with only 80TT? I’d focus on getting the ratings first as the job market is rapidly changing and will probably be quite different in a year. I still think now is a good time to get into aviation.
 

Timmy Tucker

Well-Known Member
MEL with only 80TT?
I just checked my logbook (I haven't actually looked at it in years), and I actually have just under 90TT. Got my PPL at 50hrs, MEL at 70hrs, and did another 20-ish working towards my inst/comm before I had to hang it up.

And I have the luxury of having the time and funds available to do flight training full time. So if I'm gonna do it, I'd just as soon do it asap so I can start earning money and building hours. I can't remember exactly when the hiring window is for aerial survey (Aug? Sept?), but I'm hoping that I might be able to knock it out in time to apply for a spot this upcoming season. That is... if you can still get a survey job with a wet commercial, which I am obviously curious about.
 

renaissance2008

Well-Known Member
If you can stop working and go all in with the rest of your certificates and ratings, go for it.
I gave it a shot a few years ago by training only once a week on weekends and failed. Full immersion is key.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
I just checked my logbook (I haven't actually looked at it in years), and I actually have just under 90TT. Got my PPL at 50hrs, MEL at 70hrs, and did another 20-ish working towards my inst/comm before I had to hang it up.

And I have the luxury of having the time and funds available to do flight training full time. So if I'm gonna do it, I'd just as soon do it asap so I can start earning money and building hours. I can't remember exactly when the hiring window is for aerial survey (Aug? Sept?), but I'm hoping that I might be able to knock it out in time to apply for a spot this upcoming season. That is... if you can still get a survey job with a wet commercial, which I am obviously curious about.
You're not going to be remotely insurable without at least 300 hours. Even for meat bombing (jumpers) or banner towing.

Maybe that's changed, but that's what I've seen.

-b
 

Timmy Tucker

Well-Known Member
You're not going to be remotely insurable without at least 300 hours. Even for meat bombing (jumpers) or banner towing.

Maybe that's changed, but that's what I've seen.

-b
Since the last PIC I logged was so long ago, and things have changed so much, I'm guesstimating that I'll most likely be over 300 by the time I get back up to speed and get all my training done. And if I don't end up with at least 300, I'll grimace my way thru the rental fees till I have it. So I'm not terribly worried about that.

And I'm surprised nobody's mentioned CFI yet. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I would probably die of old age before I built up any decent hours around here. I'm kinda in BFE, and based what little social media I've seen, I suspect our 2 local-ish flight schools have more instructors than students.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Since the last PIC I logged was so long ago, and things have changed so much, I'm guesstimating that I'll most likely be over 300 by the time I get back up to speed and get all my training done. And if I don't end up with at least 300, I'll grimace my way thru the rental fees till I have it. So I'm not terribly worried about that.

And I'm surprised nobody's mentioned CFI yet. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I would probably die of old age before I built up any decent hours around here. I'm kinda in BFE, and based what little social media I've seen, I suspect our 2 local-ish flight schools have more instructors than students.
To your original question, fresh CMELs can often get right seat gigs in some Part 91 ops, and sometimes aerial survey is an attainable job for a low-time, multi-rated pilot.

If I was in your shoes with your resources, I would put off the CMEL for a while. "Resources" is elastic - if you can swing it, it would overall be cheaper to buy a time builder, use that, work your way up to CFI/CFII. Then sell the plane, recover a LOT of your investment, begin teaching.

If you're able to do this full time, you have options, and owning your own airplane may eliminate the issue of limited flight instruction options.

Just a thought.

I'm sort of in the same boat you are - a little older, longer term career looking to make a change. I CFI part time because I can't quite afford to quit the career yet, and that is honestly the biggest impediment. Golden handcuffs, y'know?

Free up your TIME, and you've already managed one of the larger hurdles.
 

Timmy Tucker

Well-Known Member
To your original question, fresh CMELs can often get right seat gigs in some Part 91 ops, and sometimes aerial survey is an attainable job for a low-time, multi-rated pilot.

If I was in your shoes with your resources, I would put off the CMEL for a while. "Resources" is elastic - if you can swing it, it would overall be cheaper to buy a time builder, use that, work your way up to CFI/CFII. Then sell the plane, recover a LOT of your investment, begin teaching.

If you're able to do this full time, you have options, and owning your own airplane may eliminate the issue of limited flight instruction options.

Just a thought.

I'm sort of in the same boat you are - a little older, longer term career looking to make a change. I CFI part time because I can't quite afford to quit the career yet, and that is honestly the biggest impediment. Golden handcuffs, y'know?

Free up your TIME, and you've already managed one of the larger hurdles.
I actually considered the “buy my own plane” route. I crunched the numbers on it about a year ago and I could swing it, but it would be tight. Any large, unforeseen expenditures would be very problematic. I think it makes more sense to go the traditional route and just plan on earning that money back over the first couple years of employment. That, and there’s absolutely no way in hell I can sell my wife on the idea of buying a plane, especially considering the timeframe it could take to sell it after I’m done with it.


And this is gonna sound weird, but I also value the experience that comes with occasionally flying different aircraft. I did almost my entire PPL in the same plane, and had some steep learning curves (and a couple good “teachable moments” best told over a beer) when I started flying other planes as I progressed in my training.
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
If you look at how many job listings are starting to show up you’ll see that the career pipeline is starting to move as compared to the last year, and it’s going to have a lot of room to run. I think jobs will be available when you get your commercial certificate. You already touched on where you’re going to have your problem. You live in BFE. Hard to network into jobs that don’t (and likely never will) exist. You will obviously be remote for survey so that’s not a problem, but you’re taking most of Part 91 and Part 135 off the table.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Since the last PIC I logged was so long ago, and things have changed so much, I'm guesstimating that I'll most likely be over 300 by the time I get back up to speed and get all my training done. And if I don't end up with at least 300, I'll grimace my way thru the rental fees till I have it. So I'm not terribly worried about that.

And I'm surprised nobody's mentioned CFI yet. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I would probably die of old age before I built up any decent hours around here. I'm kinda in BFE, and based what little social media I've seen, I suspect our 2 local-ish flight schools have more instructors than students.
As hiring resumes those instructors will probably move on quickly. When you finish comm/inst it would be something good to consider, while keeping you local.
 

Timmy Tucker

Well-Known Member
As hiring resumes those instructors will probably move on quickly. When you finish comm/inst it would be something good to consider, while keeping you local.
Like I said, I’m not opposed to going the CFI route. Nor am I opposed to making a career out of that, as the QOL would obviously be a huge plus. I have no idea what the pay is like these days though. I know my instructors back in the late 90s didn’t make a squat. And while I assume the pay has gone up somewhat, the local schools don’t seem to be all that busy. I guess the best thing for me to do would be to schedule an appointment and go talk to them about it.
 
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