Real Answers from Real Pilots

27yrs old - looking for realistic career path timeline


I am a 27 year old CPA making a decent amount of money (a little over $100k/yr), but accounting really isn’t doing it for me. Most days I dread going into work and I have always been interested in being a pilot and have flown in the cockpit of a number of different small planes when I was younger.

My question is what is a realistic timeline for me to get back to making roughly the same money I am making right now (assuming I were to drop everything and go to flight school full-time)? I understand the accelerated program takes 9 months and after that I would need to reach the 1500 hour mark before gaining employment. So from 0 to finish, how long do you think it would take to start making some decent coin?

Money isn’t everything to me but I do have aspirations of early retirement. My pathway to reaching that goal has been through buying rental real estate and I don’t think I would have the money to continue to buy more until I was making roughly $100k again.

Thanks for the help/advice.

Pre-Covid, I’d estimate 3 years (conservative - could easily be shorter) 0-1500. Then another 2 years as a regional FO. Then realistically a few years as CA before hitting that 6 figure mark. All in all, about 6-8 years.

Given the current situation, getting to an airline period will be a feat. Upgrades have stagnated. There’s just no way to predict how we will come out of it. Could come back quickly and still be 6-8… could be >10.

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That’s an extremely difficult question to answer. The problem obviously is we can’t predict a recovery until we’ve remedied the current situation (vaccine, cure, etc). After that as Jordan said there’s a bunch of furloughs that need to come back. That said I strongly believe the industry is going to be incredibly short on pilots once we’re out and things will accelerate quickly after that. But a date is impossible to predict with any accuracy. If I were to guess I’d put it at 7yrs min for 6 figures going the traditional Regional route.


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Take a look at this post that I wrote about what pilots earn. Now of course this is about what airline pilots earn. CFIs are paid much less and right now it is impossible to say how long it will take to get to the airlines. Now once you do get to the airlines, particularly the majors, you can really start raking it in.


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