Age 36 and realistic goals

Hi and to whom it may concern,

I am 36 years old and have a bachelors degree (non aviation), I am single and no kids. What would be some realistic career goals I could set for myself. While I understand working for an airline is still possible at my age and through the partnerships ATP has I would start at the regionals, is it realistic to think I can fly internationally someday say a right seat on a wide body? Flying international flights on a major carrier is one of my goals if I can achieve it. I understand the seniority level and line schedule might not be the greatest b/c of starting my career later than most/some but as long as I’m flying for a major that would be awesome. I know career advancement in aviation can be unpredictable and sometimes it comes down to luck of right place right time so any answers would be best guess but I’m just trying to stay realistic as possible with my short and long term goals. I’ve been told to have goals with where you see yourself in the future but also enjoy the ‘ride’ to get there. Thank you in advance.



We get this question often. The answer? It depends. If you start right now, you could be done with flight training in 2 years, at a regional for 3 and then on to a major. United new hires have the ability to go into the right seat of a 777 if they can hold it (seniority in their class). So yes, 5 years from now at 41 years old you could theoretically be flying a wide body internationally.

Why I say it depends, well it depends on how well you do in training. Will you have a squeaky clean record or three busts? Will you make it to a regional without any incidents or legal trouble? Will you interview well once you get there? Will they still be hiring as aggressively as they are? Will there still be the opportunity to go right to wide bodies or will they be sending new hires back to the narrow bodies requiring years of climbing the ladder? We don’t know the answer to these questions… but theoretically yes, it’s very possible.


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Thanks Hannah for the response.



There’s this huge myth that you have to start flight training at 12 or something or else you’ve missed the boat. While pilots do have a finite shelf life 36 is far from too old (the average age for starts is actually 33). That said I wouldn’t drag my feet and the clock is ticking.

The fact is you could absolutely achieve all your goals (particularly in the current environment) but you need to get crackin’ sooner than later. We’re in the middle of a huge pilot shortage and a huge wave of hiring and movement. It will continue for some time but it will not continue forever. Sooner is always better.


Please check out this post: Am I too old to be an Airline pilot?

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