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Career as an airline pilot?

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  • Nov 20th, 2021 1:01 pm
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Newbie
Aug 20, 2021
2 posts

Career as an airline pilot?

Anyone on here in the industry kind enough to share some insight about lifestyle, progression , pay

Thank you
20 replies
Member
May 29, 2017
464 posts
367 upvotes
Its a gamble.

I know a guy who went to sennca flight school.

He got a job at jazz then air canada.

Roll of dice if you manage to get a good airline.
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Sep 28, 2006
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Toronto
I heard that you need to spend significant amounts of money and time to make it to commercial.

There is a shortage of pilots but its mainly due to the barriers to entry.
Member
Mar 27, 2021
385 posts
467 upvotes
Cnsr0033 wrote: Its a gamble.

I know a guy who went to sennca flight school.

He got a job at jazz then air canada.

Roll of dice if you manage to get a good airline.
This +1
It's all about making it into a good airline like AIr Canada but it takes hard work, patience and lots of hours to build your own career.

Airlines like Air Canada have best pay in the country, also best planes, training, mentorship, routes etc. Pay will be a healthy $150k (all in) and up and goes with seniority, but to get there expect to be flying smaller airlines or charters, cargo for years before getting into a major airline.
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Mar 15, 2005
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I think there was a thread on this here or maybe Reddit I saw forever ago.

Essentially it can be very expensive to get your hours in via flight school if you are self funding.

A lot of people said going through military for training and hours was the best way to go if you wanted to chase it
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Nov 6, 2014
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pringles1999 wrote: Anyone on here in the industry kind enough to share some insight about lifestyle, progression , pay

Thank you
Follow and watch. It has the answers you're looking for.

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Dec 27, 2009
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Victoria, BC
Thorkell wrote: I heard that you need to spend significant amounts of money and time to make it to commercial.

There is a shortage of pilots but its mainly due to the barriers to entry.
That was definitely the case in my day (and probably still is). Most people said the best way was join the Air Force. Lots of commercial pilots are retired/former Air Force.
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Aug 20, 2021
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Toronto
Chickinvic wrote: That was definitely the case in my day (and probably still is). Most people said the best way was join the Air Force. Lots of commercial pilots are retired/former Air Force.
I assumed that most pilots in airlines came from the military. I remember the movie 'A Officer and a Gentleman' with Richard gere - in the movie the local girls were chasing after the military pilot trainees because they though they would be marring someone who would be a high paid airline pilot after finishing in the military.
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May 11, 2009
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Debtario
No first hand experience here, though I've always wanted to become a pilot and looked into it.

Really depends on what you fly and who you fly for, just like any other industry there are great employers and terrible ones. Also like any other career, your own motivation and goals make a large
From speaking with a coworker's daughter who works at Cargojet, she loves her job and it pays well but the work/life balance is brutal as she is frequently away and has no time for kids or holidays/special occasions.
Another person who flies for a commercial airline had much less positive things to say, mostly grumblings about seniority, job stability and classic union v. management matters.

Of the few pilots I personally know, the most successful ones started young and/or had family in the industry - which makes sense when you look at the barriers to entry, starting young would also give you a running start seeing how long it takes to progress in your career)

The military as a way into the industry makes sense for "free" training and experience. I thought the appeal to ex-military members had to do with the military-style structure (rank, uniform, etc) and association of the job, not unlike the police-military relationship.

fordmaple wrote: Follow and watch. It has the answers you're looking for.

Excellent video !
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Aug 21, 2010
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op ,send me a pm with your questions as my bestfriend is a captain with aircanada,,and i was there when he first started training at flight school to now
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Jun 27, 2006
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A friend's brother-in-law was/is a pilot for major Gulf airlines. I remember her telling me the company set him up an apartment for something like 9 months just for training as he was to be flying one of their newer planes. After he finished the training, they would have paid for his family to move over along with a housing allowance for their new home. No idea of his age but guessing min, in his 40s as my friend was around that age.
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Mar 7, 2011
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Not sure if it's still the case but Japan has one of the highest salary for pilots. Lots of pilots move to Japan for that reason.
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Sep 28, 2013
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Know nothing about the industry but certainly seems like a cool job
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Feb 23, 2015
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I can shed some light, I have my PPL.

If you dont go the military route, expect to pay around $60k to $70k to get your commercial pilot license. The minimum number of hours required will be 250 to get the commercial license.

Now 250 is nothing in the world of airline pilots, one such avenue is to go up north and work the ramp for the small local airlines and hope they need a pilot on last minute notice. However, this could take a lot of time too. If you are an allstar pilot then maybe the flight school you trained at will hire you on a commission basis. This means spending countless hours at the airport in the hopes of getting a student to work with you. This is a good chance to build hours however they are hours on a single engine airplane which also may not be worth much...

In conclusion, it is difficult to get into this field, on top of that, automation is accelerating at incredible levels in the skies. We went from 4 pilots to 2, the only reason we have 2 is for safety reasons etc. This creates instability in the future so thats something to keep in mind. Also, it is not recession proof, look at what Covid did to the industry.

I got out of it because it was very costly, I did not see a good enough return on investment and instability in the future. An airline pilot may look extremely different than what we see one now as.

This not to discourage you but just to give you some insight.
Newbie
Jan 2, 2021
34 posts
24 upvotes
I am an airline captain in Canada. I wouldn't recommend it unless you can get into the Airforce or you love flying so much that you don't mind making under 40 K for the first 5 years of your career. It does eventually pay well and offer a good schedule but takes 15 ish years to get there.
Member
Jul 18, 2007
231 posts
327 upvotes
Markham
AshKetchum wrote: I am an airline captain in Canada. I wouldn't recommend it unless you can get into the Airforce or you love flying so much that you don't mind making under 40 K for the first 5 years of your career. It does eventually pay well and offer a good schedule but takes 15 ish years to get there.
I know OP didn't ask, but it's pretty much same in rotary world, 100k worth of school will net you a job making maybe 30k for many years in butt F nowhere until you're actually useful to a bigger operator due to ever increasing insurance requirements... once you get your hours to satisfy insurance req's, the sky's the limit depending on how much you want to work and where you're willing to go and what you're willing to do

don't fall into the trap that "there's gonna be a shortage of pilots soon", more than a decade later, it's still the same old guys taking the same old jobs

right now, it seems us rotary weirdos are having a better go than the fixed wing guys, with industry running again and a big fire season last summer...

Meanwhile I hear the fixed wing guys wondering why someone needs 1000hrs to APPLY to be FO on a Navajo...really, a Navajo!!!
Deal Addict
Nov 10, 2018
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My nephew went through this. This is an industry where pay is exponential. The first decade or so of your life you'll be slumming it. Sure, when you're left seat on a 773 on AC mainline, you're clearing 300K +. However, when you're right seat/FO on a Q400, you're basically making minimum wage.

Plus, this type of career is incredibly seasonal (cue covid and layoffs). That said, if it's your passion, then go for it but go into this industry with your eyes wide open!
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Sr. Member
Jun 19, 2007
975 posts
1054 upvotes
Halifax
I have my PPL, I'm ex reserves so know about half a dozen military pilots, and worked a lot of resource gigs up north, so worked with a lot of pilots. Here's a riddle. How do you end up with a million dollars as a commercial pilot? Start off with 2 million.

Of all my class mates who went the PPL route through the cadet program, maybe 10 tried to go commercial. Crappy pay, crappy hours, and crappy locations is the name of the game for the first decade, after you've dropped $50k+ to get your license. And that's if you're lucky. A couple friends 15 years our now have sweet gigs, but over half ended up leaving the field all together. Even mid range pilots don't make a ton, and I was talking to one girl who's FO on dash-8s, and had to do a simulated heart attack/check ride/emergency procedures thing, *at her own expense* before she could fly. Chopper pilots up north making a bit above minimum wage, being asked to pay $2000/hr to get checked out on whatever choppers were being operated. So even after you drop close to 6 figures for your license, it's just keeps adding up before you get to the point where you can make $20/hr for the limited hours you're actually in the air.

Sad but true, employment prospects seem to slowly be getting better, but still not great. Unfortunately airlines have been in a race to the bottom for the last 30 years, and want to save money where ever they can. It's like no one wants to acknowledge that flying is very, very expensive, and screwups are very, very serious. Nickel and diming passengers, cutting pilot's pay, making them pay for their own training etc.- then still losing money and needing bailouts every other year. On the other hand, it's a prestigious job, you get to travel a bunch, get decent travel perks from airlines, and if you truly love flying that much, one of those few jobs I believe people truly love, and would do for free if they could swing it. Because they're certainly not doing it for the money. Absolutely do not go into it to make money.

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