Career change at 34

Hi everyone! I’m sorry if this has been asked a million times. I’m 34 years old, I’m currently a police officer for the nypd. I have my ppl but have been recently think about making a career change and going the airline route. I’m married and have a 3 year old and are pretty comfortable financially but my wife is hesitant about the idea of me making the change. I’m just looking for advice or experiences about whether or not it’s a good idea.

Do you love what you do?
Would you do it all over again knowing what you know now?
Is it the right time to get into the airline route?
How’s family life?

Any other information that may be beneficial to help me weigh the pros and cons.

I really appreciate it!

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Welcome to the forums!

Yes, I love my job. Now to be fair, I have never really worked a job outside of being a pilot, but I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Ye, I would do this all over again. Spending time on this forum is very eye opening in that we routinely see people that want to change careers. I almost never heard of a pilot changing careers.

We are I the midst of one of the largest pilot shortages ever seen in this country, yes, now is absolutely the right time to get into the industry.

Family life is what you make of it. I am gone about half the month, but when I am home, those are true days at home, no phone calls, paperwork, etc. I feel that I see my children more than somebody working a 9-5, but that is just my impression.

I would strongly encourage you to spend some time on this website. Check out the FAQ section, the “Flying theLine” section and also ATP’s main website as there is a ton of information there as well.



You’re correct we get asked these questions daily. The problem is many of the answers are very subjective:

  1. I do, others don’t. I’m sure you work with officers who live their jobs and others that don’t.

  2. I absolutely would, but again I know people who would not. Best decision I ever made in my life. Others regret it.

  3. This one is easy. This is literally the best time in history to become a pilot. Just a few years ago you were lucky just to get an interview. Now if you meet the mins you will get hired. While nothing is 100% guaranteed, this is pretty close.

  4. Now that I have some seniority it’s excellent. Unfortunately when I was starting out my schedule was lousy and I missed many events in my children’s lives (birthdays, holidays, ball games, recitals etc).

Again many of your questions really depend on YOU. You already have your PPL which is actually a big deal. You’ve flown and hopefully you enjoy it. In my experience the people who become pros because the love (or at least REALLY enjoy) flying do well because the bottom line is you’re getting paid to do something you’d gladly pay for. Those who do it for the money, because there’s a shortage or free travel etc don’t.


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Hey Jeremy,

I’m also 34 and was a cop for 8 years in NJ just outside NYC. I’m currently an ATP student at Morristown, NJ. I have many friends that are NYPD. Tough job you guys have over there.

It’s a decision you and your wife have to make. I have a mortgage and a wife with no kids so I understand your hesitation. You’ll most likely be starting credit private, I started with 0 experience so I am in the middle of my solo prep phase now.

Any questions let me know. Good luck!



I’m 39 and have a stable 9-5 job, 2 young kids and a spouse who also has her own successful career. My wife and are are actively discussing this potential new career. I can’t answer your questions but whatever you do, do not go to the Airline Pilot Central forums for advice! I swear that side of the internet is full of crusty old pilots whose sole purpose in life is to crush the dreams of new and aspiring pilots.


Interesting that you should say that. We started this forum in part to offer a more positive view of the airline industry. If you hang out here long enough, you will see that we do not sugar coat things and that we are very open and honest. But, we as mentors do not turn this into a complaint fest and as a result, I like to think that this forum has become a positive place for getting “Real answers from real pilots.”


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The mentors here do a great job of presenting a fair and realistic view of the profession. I appreciate your willingness to contribute your personal time to help us become more knowledgeable about the industry, the training and the life.

That’s awesome, congrats on your career change! If you don’t mind me asking, how are supplementing your income while you go to school. That’s one of my big concerns. And how is your dad to day at atp?

I am using money I got from my payout from work from my accrued sick, vacation and personal days, I rolled over my pension money, if I need to use that I will for emergency’s. I also am a realtor part time, so I actually had a few closings take place from homes I had under contract while I was still working as a cop.

Just taking it day by day. Just really focusing on studying and being at the training center as often as possible. The quicker I can get through training satisfactorily without any hiccups with weather and evaluations, quicker I can become a CFI and have some money coming in.

33 Here and a former Deputy approximately 3 weeks ago. I’ve been at the school for a week and the refreshing feeling of not having the stress is amazing! If you need anything you can reach out!



I love the job. I have only flown with a handful of pilots that do not love the job. I would absolutely do it all over again.

The most important thing about family life is support. If you have a supportive family then your family will, at best, make accommodations to include you in family events around your schedule. Or, at the very least, understand why you cannot attend.



I absolutely love what I do and what do it all over again.

I was working in a job that made me feel stuck. I was living each week waiting for the weekend, had hardly any time off to vacation or travel and I wasn’t making enough to support a family in the long run. I had no college loans and decided taking the financial risk pursuing flight training was worth having a career that would satisfy all I was looking for. Now that I’m at the regionals, I travel all the time, look forward to going to work, love what I do while I’m working, have more time off than the usual 8 days off (Sat/Sun each week) and I’m making enough to get by with the assurance I won’t be worrying about money for long.

Going through training and time building is the most difficult time. You’re working very hard, taking huge risks and financially in a hole. If you have the support of your family and keep your eye on the prize you will make it. Once you get to the regionals, you’re going to feel like you’re finally an airline pilot and living the life but finances are still tight and the schedule isn’t great. However most places you get protected to have a minimum of 12 days off a month which is better than most M-F jobs. Once you make captain or head to a major, you’re making enough to truly support a family again and make big payments on your loan… then you’re in your way.

Hope this helped.



I became a police officer in 2005. Married in 2008. First kiddo in 2010. Signed up for ATP in 2011-ish and promptly forfeited my deposit and continued being a police officer because American Airlines just filed for bankruptcy and it scared me to make a change to a career field if the airlines were “going under”. This was due to my own lack of knowledge on the industry leading me to make a misinformed decision. Had my second kiddo in 2013. Still dreamed of flying and finally signed up for ATP in 2015. No regrets. I’m starting training at a Major Airline Monday the 25th and couldn’t be more happy.

I feel only you can figure out if it’s the right career for you and already having your PPL should help. You already understand what it took to get that rating and can expect more of the same. I actually retired from Law Enforcement in 2021 after working full time from 2005 to 2016 and part time from 2016 until 2021. As the “old cop” in the room I beg you to listen to your gut, your wife, and your heart. If the job is not fulfilling, move on and find purpose. If your wife tells you “you’ve changed” (like mine did) you probably have. Lastly, if you’re heart isn’t in it anymore its okay. It’s a hard job full of almost constant trauma and rides heavy on the strongest of folks; move on before anything bad happens. There’s no dishonor in that.