37 and looking for a career change

I have always wanted to e=be an airline pilot, as they say once you are bit by the flying bug, there is no cure. Life happened and here I am at 37 ready to make a career change and join the pool. I am looking to start the ATP course with credit for private since I already have 195 hours and a private pilot certificate.

Question I have is, is it not wise to me to quit my stable job to chase a dream given the instability of the job outlook for pilots. right now economy is good, airlines ordering new planes, its 2017right now but I wont qualify to be hired till at least 2019 and that’s if I start in March like I am hoping to, finish the ratings by July or August 2017 and hopefully by 2019 have enough hours to be qualified to be hired. Then making sure I don’t fail a medical, pass my check rides and the daunting task of instructing for over a year. My buddy flies as a captain for American and he told me instructing is not easy so I ask.

I am just looking for honest answers to see if it is worth it for me to chase a dream specially at my age or hang it up for good.

thank you


Welcome to the forums. Your age question is one of the most frequent questions that we are asked here on the forum. At 37 you could still have a great career in front of you and stand an excellent chance of flying for a major airline.

Like any career change there are risks involved in it and it sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what those risks are. I suppose a lot of it depends on you. Are you in good health? Can you afford to take a pay cut whilst instructing? Are you willing to start over at the entry level of a profession?
I personally think that the industry will continue to grow dramatically over the next several years and that the job prospects for new pilots look great, but like any industry that can change.

Every one of the mentors on here instructed and I think that I can speak for all of us when I say that we all enjoyed it. Sure, there were long days and hard work, but it was really rewarding to watch other pilots grow and to be able to pass my skills onto them.



I was in a very similar situation to yours prior to starting my training with ATP. I was 39, had my PPL and also owned a successful restaurant making very good money. As you point out things are good right now (considerably better than when I started) but there are no guarantees and things can change. For me the decision was easy. While I was making money I was not happy nor satisfied with my career and knew I had to make a change. The thought of spending the rest of my life being miserable and wondering years from now “what if?” FAR outweighed any financial fears or concerns. I took the plunge and have never regretted it. It was hard work, challenging and required sacrifice on my and my family’s part but I love my job and I’m happier in every aspect of my life.

That all said that’s me. These are “grown-up” decisions and only you can decide what’s best for you?


Great points, the only thing that scares me and has kept me from doing it since the last 5 yrs is the money I have to invest almost $70k and right now things are good an hopefully I’ll be making enough to afford $800/mo payment but I won’t be eligible to be hired till late 2018 early 2019. I looked into FBOs but it all comes to the same just about if you factor in the time at FBOs vs time at ATP. Is ATP really the great choice that is built up to be, I know this is an ATP forum but honestly, if y’all could go back what would be different if you could change a few things.


This is ATPs forum but the reason I participate is because I can honestly say I don’t believe I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t done my training there. As you’re aware flying isn’t cheap, and as you said, taking the FBO route is no less expensive. I got my PPL at a local FBO, it took me almost 2yrs and thousands more than it should have. I wasn’t going to repeat that mistake, I did my research and concluded there was no better more efficient route to the airlines. I was skeptical as well but ATP delivered on every promise they made. My training was completed on time at the GUARANTEED price (not a penny more). They hired me as an instructor as promised and within 2 weeks of reaching ExpressJet Airlines minimums I had an interview. The only thing I would’ve done different is I wouldn’t have wasted 2 years getting my PPL and I would’ve started my career in my 20’s not my 40s!

Listen, I’m not a salesman and I receive no incentive whether you sign up with ATP or any other program. In the time since I complete my training starting salaries have more than doubled and the Regionals are recruiting pilots vs us begging for an interview. It is literally the best time in history to start this career. Can that change tomorrow? Absolutely. Will you be successful in your training and will your path go as smoothly as mine? I have no idea nor are there any guarantees that you’ll ever make it is as an airline pilot. That’s the reality. You obtained your PPL which leads me to believe you have some skill and ability, and the forecasts are that things will continue to be good for a while. In my opinion you’ve got a good chance but again, no guarantees. What I do know is if your don’t try your chances are zero. I don’t know what you’re currently earning but today Capts at the Majors are earning $300k. In the 5 years you’ve been pondering this that’s $1.5million in lost potential earnings which (to me) makes the $51k investment (not sure where you got the $70k figure?) seem rather insignificant. But again, doesn’t really matter what I think, it’s your call.


You really did put things into perspective when you mentioned the lost potential of earnings. thank you again and imma do it, probably start in 2-3 weeks. Thank you so much :blush:

Just my opinion but glad if it helped.

Keep us posted.


Gaurav - In response to your comment about making enough to afford an $800/month loan payment… Please keep in mind that while you’re instructing at ATP and during your first year at an airline you can receive a monthly contribution from the airline to your loan payment from the Tuition Reimbursement program.


If you have questions about the program you can call me in the admissions department at ATP.

I took your advise and have joined ATP, you really don’t need a sales pitch with ATP as their dedication to my success is evident in the amount of follow up they have already done since I scheduled :slight_smile:

I am scheduled for the April 24th class which will give me enough time to get ready for my start date. And hey if anyone were to ask me now is 37 too late to start, my answer would be heck no, it’s NeVer too late lol, thanks for everyone’s advice :slight_smile:

Nice! I’m also 37 and am looking to join ATP in about 5-6 months. I agree it’s definitely not too late for a career change, especially with the short training timeline ATP offers, the speed at which you can get to 1500 hours, and the increase in airline pilot retirement age to 65. I know that once I start at ATP, even though I’m 37 I will still have a nice long career to look forward to with the airlines.

Good luck on your new career!

I couldn’t agree more. I have been flying for 2 days now with ATP, checked in April 24th. And the level of organization, standardization is amazing at ATP. I flew at few other schools before, local FBOS and sorts, although that is always a good way to go, but if you want to get serious about your career and get “conditioned” so to say for airline flying, ATP, hands down is the best. And the LZU facility is great, everyone is so helpful. I am happy that I finally decided on ATP, yes 37, I had my usual doubts, concerns about the loan etc., but from day one since I signed up and 3 days in now… so thankful that I did. :slight_smile:

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Great to hear! Keep us posted.