Career change at 31

I’ve been researching my options a lot lately, and I’m seriously considering making a major career change to become an airline pilot. I’ve always loved being in the air, and have been lucky to get to fly a couple small planes with a friend. That has really given me the itch to fly. Iam confident in my ability to make it through training and eventually work my way to a major airline. I have a solid career, as I work in finance for a major bank, and even have my masters degree.

However, I hate working at a computer all day and riding a desk. Rather than be miserable the rest of my life, I want to start over and pursue a career that actually excites me. Am I crazy for considering this at 31? I would likely do the flex track for a few months, and then take the option of switching over to the fast track. Would my age make it difficult to land interviews with major airlines? I understand that making it to a regional is very likely, but the next step is difficult even for a younger pilot. Also, how difficult is it to land flight instructor positions after training? I’m in the Twin Cities, so there are many options in the area. Is it common to have to move to find an instructing position?

Thanks in advance for everyone’s time! I look forward to seeing what you think.


Welcome to the forums, the questions you have are not obsolete at all and are frequently asked on a daily basis. I was like you working at a computer all day in a bank and always saw these planes turning base to final right by our big glass windows, I couldn’t stand being inside all day…jealous. First off, 31 is not that old, in fact I see students that are much older than that in my training center, they all have the same drive as you, to change the pace of their career and want to start something new and lifelong.

The Flex Track program is ATP’s new program, it offers individuals that want to work and still partake in flying. You have the flexibility to work the schedule, offering days of flying and standby days - I have a student currently that is in the Flex Program and his phase of training with this weather the last week has made it difficult and he was able to work with me on being flexible all week long. Your age is not a disqualifier in any interview, in fact you have an advantage that you may have more experiences with answering interview style questions; most, if not all airlines will use a TMAAT and STAR format.

I’d recommend if you could, to look at the Fast Track Program to not delay your progression to reach your goal. CFI jobs are stopping to pop up more frequently in today’s time (post-covid) since all the high time CFIs are being picked up under the wings of the Part 121 (airline) world. I know students that graduated after me who have if not, but the same amount of hours as me and they started instructing before me at a “mom and pop” flight school. Moving is ultimately your discretion if you feel that your area wouldn’t provide enough hours or you’re in a financial predicament.

I recommend checking these following threads to answer some questions more in depth:



If you had browsed this forum you would’ve seen a) this is by far the most common question asked practically daily, and b) 31 is no where near too old. In fact your below the average age for when people start their training which is 33. I started my training at almost 40 and I’m a Capt at a Major airline so again your age is not an issue.

As for your question about getting an instructor position the answer is provided you do well in training (min or no checkride busts) and have a good attitude you should have no problems finding something in your area. If however you don’t put in the work and effort, and bust a few checkrides, well no one really wants to hire a lousy pilot to instruct for them. ATP offers positions to their successful students but there’s no guarantee as to the location so you might have to look elsewhere if you’re unwilling to relocate.



Welcome to the forum. You are in no way too old at 31, in fact you are far from it. Please check out the FAQ section as there is a detailed post there on this topic. As for the flight instructing jobs, there are certainly more and more of them becoming available as the airlines begin hiring again. I cannot speak to the opportunities in your area, other than to say that ATP does have a location there and that they frequently hire former students to be flight instructors.


You’ve come to the right place! You’re absolutely not too old to be switching careers. If you browse the forum, there is probably more posts from people wondering the same thing as you than questions about any other topic. The majors won’t have an issue with your age either. As for instructing jobs, every day that current CFIs get 1500 hours and get class dates at regionals better your chance of getting an open instructor position. Now every location within atp has different needs but if you’re open to moving locations, you shouldn’t have a problem as long as you do well during your program as a student.