Aviation career with a growing family

Hi everyone,

My name’s Zack and I’m new to the blog and have enjoyed reading everyone inputs and thoughtful advice on various topics. I’m 31, happily married, with a year and a half old son and another child on the way in July. I am at career crossroads, (classic), and have been exploring/researching many different options and weighing the pros/cons. Aviation is something that interests me and something I could see being a viable option to provide for my family long term. That being said I know it can be very taxing on household dynamics and just overall strain on a family.

I would never ask my wife to get used to me being gone unless it was something I could wholeheartedly see providing a better life for us. I LOVE spending time with my son, and can’t imagine not getting to see him every night. I’ve read countless articles/blog posts, researched pros/cons, but in the end I come up with the same question each time I consider aviation as a career. Could my family handle it and is it worth it?

I know this question or a form of it has been asked many times, but would love some insight on how folks have handled pursuing an aviation career while raising a small family?


Welcome, Zach-

Absolutely everybody is in a different situation with different family dynamics, and what works for one might not work for another. Nobody can answer this question for you, but you.

That said, aviation is extremely challenging and one that will take complete focus to get to the 121 world. Earning all my certificates with a family was hard, but my wife went to work full time to help pay the bills and have insurance. Once I got to 121 training, it was 2 months away from home studying 16-18 hours a day. It was, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done and took complete focus in order to succeed. My kids were older and didn’t want to be with me every waking minute, so that made the decision easier. :laughing:

Is it worth it? Only you know what you’ll be missing and how that will affect you and your family. Many, many before you have been in your shoes and it worked out perfectly for them. Others decided the sacrifice wasn’t worth it. Regardless, your wife needs to be 100% on board and supportive with you should you decide this is the path to take as much of the family burden shifts to her.

Good luck with whatever the future has in store for you!


1 Like


Welcome to the forum. Of course we cannot answer your question, only you can. If you cannot imagine not seeing your son every night, then that is a major obstacle that you will have to overcome as you will be gone for days at a time, especially in the beginning. Even after you gain seniority, you should still expect a steady diet of nights on the road, that is simply part of the job.

Family results vary, some spouses are great about the job, others are not, and when a pilot is in the latter position, it causes problems. I suggest that you are your spouse spend some time reading the schedules section of this forum and see what you both think. I would pay particular attention to Brady and Hannah’s schedules as they are more reflective of what new pilots can expect.

All of this being said, I think I have way more days off than most business men do and am far more available to my family than average. No, I am not home at night, but when I am home I am off all day with absolutely no take-home responsibilities.

Now I have no idea what you are earning in your current job, but I can tall you that I make more than the vast majority of people that I know and that affords me the opportunity to do things with my family and offer them experiences that others cannot. For example, I took. my family to Disney World last year. I was ticked off because they closed Splash Mountain permanently before we got there, so two weeks later I picked the kids up from school on Friday and flew to LAX to go to Disneyland for the day to ride that Splash Mountain. It is a great story that we all still talk about and I would not have been able to do it with many other jobs (we flew out and back for free).

So, we cannot answer the question for you. What I can tell you is that I cannot imagine doing anything else and think that the job actually contributes to my ability to spend time with my family, albeit not every night.



I’m going to take a different tack then the others. EVERYONE (and their barber’s cousin) wants to be a pilot these days. United is running commercials and the news is out there’s a shortage and the potential for lots of money. Woohoo! Thing is what if that wasn’t the case? It’s certainly not the way it was when started and there’s no guarantee it will stay this way. If there was a chance you’d never get to a Major and make the top salaries would you still be willing to make all the sacrifices this career requires?

While I LOVE my job I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have regrets. I have a great relationship with my kids but they’re grown now. They were small when I started and I missed ALOT. Holidays, ballgames, birthdays, etc etc. I always thought “next year” but you end up chasing a bigger plane or the upgrade and next thing you know they’re off to college. Not trying to dissuade you but while the rewards can be great, again they’re not guaranteed. What is, is that you will be away from the family.

Something to think hard on.


Thanks for the insight everyone! I understand that I can only reason what’s best for my family in my head, and Adam I appreciate the honesty with how much of your kids younger years you missed. I’ll be having some in depth convo’s with the wife to layout the framework if this is really something our family should go for. I’ll continue to keep following this page for more info and helpful tips!