Career Change at 29. Nervous I'll be too old before I make it to a major airline

So I’m seriously considering making the career change to become a pilot. I have zero flight experience and will be looking to do a discovery flight soon so I can get a better understanding to see if it’s right for me. I have several friends that are pilots 1 at regional now and 1 that has been at a major airline for over a year. They love what they do and financially speaking it seems like being a pilot and grinding out those years to earn your place are very rewarding once/if you make it to a major airline.

I’m 29 years old and terrified at making a career change, but I feel that making this change will allow me the life I want for myself and my future family. I currently am not married and have no kids, but I am in a serious relationship that I do not plan on ending.

I’m looking for advice from best case to worst case on how many years it could take for me to get to a major airline. Am I looking at 35, 40, or possibly sooner? If I were to drop everything, quit my full time job and focus, what do the next years of my life look like? I’m hoping to hear from anyone, but if someone that has made this decision could offer some insight and maybe discuss their experience and what their life was like during the hardest times of this journey. I’d appreciate any insight before I make this decision.

This could all be moot if I by chance do not enjoy flying, but knowing myself I do not feel that it’s something I won’t love. Being honest the spark of interesting in making this change comes from the current state of my career and discussing piloting with my friends who are in it and love it.


Please take a look at our FAQ section as that will surely answer many of your questions.

As for time lines there are no absolutes in this industry. Flying for a Major is the pinnacle of our industry and frankly not everyone gets there. Sometimes there are blemishes or training issues on their record, other times they simply don’t interview well. Short answer it could be as little as 5-6yrs, could be longer, could be never.

As you said it’s all moot if you don’t enjoy it. Go for that discovery flight and get your feet wet and that should help. Also know again there are no guarantees in this industry.



I appreciate your quick reply and feedback. I’ve read through the FAQ section now and it was extremely helpful.

I will continue to do my due diligence to learn as much as I can before taking the leap. I’m sure I’ll be back with more questions if I don’t find them digging through the forums.


There is a detailed post in the FAQ section that covers age related issues. The short answer is that if you check all the right boxes, you should have a decent shot of making it to the majors, but the timeline is almost impossible to guess at. I would think that you would be looking at a least a minimum of seven years from now to a major, if not more.

One thing I noticed in your post though was a focus on the financial side of the job. Yes, the money in being a pilot can be good, but that should not be the primary reason for doing the job. There will be several lean years and a lot of time on the road. You have to really love flying to be happy in the job.


1 Like