Can I keep my Engineering job and fly part time?

I am currently employed with a major airline working 7 days on, 7 days off as a Systems/Structures Engineer. I possess a bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering and have been working in Aerospace for almost 9 years now.
I’m interested in training to be an airline pilot, getting certified and licensed and flying part time on my off week - since I’m off every other week. Is this possible? I would eventually like to transition into being a full time pilot instead of being an Engineer, however doing so immediately I would most likely take a massive pay cut - one I can’t do financially, since I’m married and have a family, house and all. So i need to keep my current job.
Can anyone experienced with this give me some insight? Would it be possible to do this like I want? Train, fly part time on my off week while keeping my current job, and when I gain enough hours and experience I could think of taking it on full time?
I don’t want to cough up that much $ for training if I wouldn’t be able to do this… part time like I said.
Any bit of advise you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


Welcome to the forums and thanks for posting! You could very well find a flight training program that would accommodate your schedule, however ATP would not be able to as they specialize in fast paced training and taking every other week off is counter to that as you need to spend a certain amount of time relearning skills every time you get in the airplane. You might find it difficult to build flight hours as flight schools will want to hire a full time instructor.

Airline pilots do have a fair amount of time off, but it is not split up into a week on, week off type schedule. Typically we work something similar to four on, three off, but that can vary widely. Also, the airlines can not accommodate special schedule requests as that is counter to the seniority system. I think you might find that working four solid weeks as both a pilot and a systems engineer would be very tiring and you would not have much time with your family.

I think this is one of these moments in time where you will need to take a leap of faith and throw yourself full into flying if that is what you want to do. Talk with your wife, figure out what you can afford and go from there. Take a look at this article as it helps explain pilot pay a bit better: What Do Pilots Really Earn?


Hey James,

To echo Chris unfortunately there’s no way you’d be able to pull that off, at least not in the beginning, which is when you need it. The sad part is eventually, after build seniority you probably could go back to engineering and alternate weeks on and off, but that’s after the fact. Perhaps if you can survive the first few years (the hard part) you could recoup after?

Good luck.