Repost from Changing Careers forum


New Member
I am a 31 year old independent consultant in the Information Technology industry and have been flying for about 2 years. In that time I have completed my private and instrument and built about 200 hours. I am seriously considering whether changing careers is a feasible option for me and would be interested in the comments and input of those with more knowledge of the industry than myself.

I am currently planning to complete the Airline Career Pilot program at ATP during the summer of 2003. For those who aren't familiar with it, this is a 3 month program in which you earn the Instrument, Multi, Commercial Single, Commercial Multi, CFI, CFII, MEI, high performance and high altitude certificates/ratings/endorsements. You log approximately 200 hours of multi time and 3 hours turbine time in a Citation. My intention is to complete this program and begin the flight instruction route. Returning from this program with over 400 total hours and 200 multi, my thought is that with about a year+ of instruction given I would have sufficient time to be competitive for a job with one of the small bank carriers here in Cincinnati (i.e. Airnet, FlightExpress), or perhaps make the minimums for a commuter.

I have also been doing some research into the Aircraft Dispatcher route. There is a well rated company in my area which offers a 200 hour ground school class for AD certification ( One benefit is that the AD written is from the same question bank as the ATP written. Therefore if I could pass one, I should be able to pass both at the same time. My understanding is that some people have successfully used this route to get their foot in the door at an airline while still working on the required flight time to apply for a pilot job. It is not clear to me though whether airlines consider your time with the company as an AD toward your seniority/pay if you are later hired as a pilot. I am especially interested in this route as it would allow me to work full time as a dispatcher while doing part > full time instruction. Also, if I find later that I am either unable or uninterested in flying for a living, this is a respectable aviation career field with a moderate salary (eventually).

In addition to either working as an Aircraft Dispatcher, a Flight Instructor or both, I will also be finishing up a BS in Mgmt of Tech Operations through ERAU distance learning. Obviously I will need a degree for a major airline, but I think even if I were to choose Aircraft Dispatch as a career this would be a major benefit and potentially even a boost toward a management position in the industry.

So basically, I'm hoping that through one route or the other I can have all my ratings and the ATP written done with 1000-1500tt and a bachelors degree by the time I am 33 years old. Based on the experience of others, does this seem realistic, and how likely is it that I could put in a few years at a commuter and still make it to a major beginning at that age.

I'd appreciate anyone's constructive input on any part of this. I am especially interested in hearing from someone with knowledge about Aircraft Dispatch particularly as a stepping stone to the cockpit.

Thank you
Here is how I broke down the ATP program cost and decided it was worth the money.
Assuming the following rates which I found to be reasonable averages:

Citation rental (guess) $ 300/hr
Seminole rental (wet) $ 180/hr
Seminole rental (As Safety Pilot) $ 90/hr (Worth half the rate)
Cessna 172 rental (wet) $ 85/hr
Seminole simulator $ 50/hr
Dual Instruction $ 35/hr

Cross-Country (PIC) 37.5 hrs $ 6,750
Cross-Country (Safety Pilot) 37.5 hrs $ 3,375
Dual Multi-Engine 62 hrs $ 13,330
Dual Citation 3 hrs $ 1,005
Dual Simulator 50 hrs $ 4,250
Dual Single-Engine 10 hrs $ 1,200
Housing/X-Country hotels 3 Months $ 3,000
Books, Supplies $ 500
Total $ 33,410

ATP ACP Program Actual Cost $ 32,995

I should clarify my reasons for pursuing an accelerated program. I'm already affiliated with a flight school where I'll be instructing, however our insurance requires that I have 500 hours. It would likely take me 1-2 years to earn these ratings/hours at home flying on weekends and evenings. In my current situation as an independent consultant, it is actually easier to take 3 months off to complete this program than it is to spend all of my free time flying at home. I've flown about every free second I've had since starting my private and only logged 200 hours in 2 years.

Also, another reason I'm partial to the accelerated programs is that I believe I learn better without distractions. The idea of completely removing myself from all of my everyday stresses including work and focusing strictly on flying for 3 months is very appealing to me, although being away from my wife for that long is not. My experience in IT training has been that I retain much more information from intense, accelerated programs that drill techniques into your brain. I'm more concerned about having to review/relearn things between lessons when flying a couple times a week at home than I am about retaining what I learn in an intense program. I like the method of teaching to safety/proficiency and then moving on.