Career change at 30 from healthcare

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to get some input from those who changed careers or anyone else who feels they may have some insight.

I’ll be 30 next year and am considering a career change into aviation from healthcare. I’ve worked as a RN for the past 8 years. Prior to finishing school for nursing, I had always had an interest in aviation but due to life situations, time, and money, nursing was a better choice for my 20 year old self. Now that I am able to comfortably afford flight lessons, I’m looking at getting my PPL and possibly continuing from there. I started the very beginning of flying lessons right as the pandemic was starting and was not able to continue since the school ceased lessons at the time. But from the discovery flight and the first couple lessons I had; I knew that there is a true interest in aviation and it wasn’t something that would just be passing. Working through the pandemic really opened my eyes to the fact that if this is something I want, it is now or never and I might as well go for it instead of regretting not doing it later on in life.

I’m looking at restarting lessons for my PPL this coming winter once I get a couple commitments out of the way. Since I’m a travel nurse, I can pretty much go anywhere that I want (preferably somewhere warmer during the winter). I’ve looked at the differences between part 61 and part 141 training. Since I’ll still be working (3 day per week schedule), I figured part 61 would probably be better for me. Unless I’m missing something or not understanding, I didn’t really see the benefit of a part 141 school since I would be ineligible for a R-ATP in the future due to not having an aviation degree. Does it really matter in the end which type of school I choose? Do airlines really care? I just need to get the PPL done so I can move on to the other ratings.

Also, being almost 30, do you feel that I may be behind in the hiring curve that is going on right now as airlines are trying to hire pilots in masses? Would I still have a chance at potentially making it to a major carrier if I decided to make the switch in careers? I understand that I would have to work my way up the ladder.

I’d appreciate any advice that anyone has to offer. I am definitely interested in hearing from others who made a career change and the path and timeline you took.




First get the age thing out of your brain. I’m not sure when 30 became old but the average pilot started training in the low to mid 30s so you’re actually still ahead. I started when I was 39 and I’m a Capt at a Major and that was long before the shortage accelerated the process.

Next no the airlines don’t care if your school is Part 61 or 141 (an btw, you can only get the R-ATP hour reduction if your training is done as part of that degree, just getting a degree doesn’t help).

My biggest caveat however is getting your PPL locally. Both myself and Chris both tried and we like thousands of others found it simply doesn’t work. The odds are you’ll spend way more time and money than you anticipated, if you’re fortunate enough to finish at all. Successful flight training is dependant on consistency and training part-time simply doesn’t provide that. Now if your goal is simply to earn your PPL than that’s fine, take your time and spend your money as it’s just recreation. But if you really want a career change, you really need to think about training full time at an academy like ATP that was created for this purpose.



Welcome to the forums. You are right, no matter which school you go to, there is zero benefit to a 141 program. I would causing you about trying to work and do flight training. Many have done this, but it certainly is not very efficient. You will most likely end up spending way more time and way more money than you think training part time. There is a reason that the military, the airlines and ATP all train every day, it is the most efficient way to build skills.

Thirty is not old at all, you absolutely have an excellent chance of making it to the majors.