That subject line is a horrible way to introduce myself but that very well may be how I appear to airline recruiters when the time comes - so I need to do all I can to NOT come off that way.
I just turned 44. I’ve co-piloted Cessna 152s enough to know that up in the air is my happy place nearly as much as engaging in my creative and scientific endeavors. I need a livelihood that lines up with my love for travel and flying itself that will give me stability, decent pay, and freedom to professionally pursue my other interests without jeopardizing my dayjob.
Yesterday I did ATP’s intro flight training module, did some other technical and industry research, and today I’ve been on the boards a bunch (you guys are awesome - seriously…) and I spoke with ATP 3 times. I REALLY want this. (I haven’t scheduled my intro flight yet.)
I want to be the pilot who could get and keep just about any plane into any sky and land it just about anywhere. I could see myself in the 121 or 135 world, happy as a regional captain or, for some adventure and even better money, running cargo to God knows where. (I just heard of a guy who works for UPS and makes $300Gs/year working 3 days a week, 10 years experience.)
My bread & butter background is business management, human behaviour, and operations. I’ve formally studied these quite a bit in a classroom setting, but not traditionally accredited. Not having a college degree has hurt me as an employee as far as perceived value for hiring, rank, and pay, but when I consult, I get approx $200/hr. So I know it’s possible to sell myself without a degree…but I also know not having a degree is an obstacle I regret having erected. I’m a good student and fast learner; am confident I could embrace the theory and practical of becoming a pilot in the expected time.
I don’t currently have any family constraints. My parents are aging fast so that could change in the next couple years.
I read a Boeing press release covering the outlook of the industry and pilot shortage (http://www.aviationtoday.com/2017/06/22/boeing-vp-talks-future-passenger-plane-autonomy/) Having experienced the aftermath of the 2008 recession without a college degree, I am hesitant to assume I won’t have trouble getting hired at a regional or cargo - even if I’m a good pilot.
Whatever I do and however I do it, I want to ensure I’m doing it in such a way that will get me to captain as fast as possible, with as little risk as possible - even if the economy tanks.
Considering all the above, which route - your personal and professional opinion - would lend itself to the best return on my time and money?
A) fast track my pilot training and suffer through a couple especially lean years (schooling + working as a CFI) until I get hired by a regional that will appreciate I’d want to stay for several years and so would put me on a captain track and not do a degree;
B) do an Associates degree in Pilot Technology (like this http://www.broward.edu/academics/programs/aviation/Pages/default.aspx or details: http://www.broward.edu/academics/programs/Program%20Sheet%20Library/2107.pdf) and then work on a bachelor’s online (in business) while I build up my hours and try to get hired by a regional;
C) focus on my business bachelor’s now and put pilot training aside altogether until I’ve got the degree and some more money set aside…which would put me in my late 40s… but maybe that would give me the best chance at being competitive because of the degree.
Obviously I’m the only one who can make this decision - I’m really looking to you all (pilot mentors and anyone with airline industry experience of any type) as a sounding board to perhaps trigger something in me that that will lead me the right way through.
Thanks so much!