Career change at 41

I am 41 years old and have been a commercial real estate broker for 16 years and I’ve had enough. I am working on getting my private pilots license and I’m considering leaving my current career in a year or so to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. At my age I feel I’ve got to do one of the fast track programs. Would any of the majors want a 48-50 year old just coming out of a regional?

This is pretty well covered elsewhere Drew, but if it helps the discussion thread any - I’ll be 52 by the time I start a fast-track program (assuming I can get a Class 1 FAA Physical). All the other responses you’ll find in here indicate that being picked up by the majors in MY situation are “negative”. I won’t have time to build the hours and move through seniority at the regionals and shift over to a major by 65. However, YOU do have that time if you move briskly and are willing to make some sacrifices (taking less desirable homebases in exchange for seniority bumps etc.). Also, on the question of your attractiveness as a new hire, you coming into an airlines’s pilot workforce later in life makes you more attractive from all my reading. An older pilot is much less likely to leave an airline (giving up your hard-earned seniority) than a younger pilot with more years to earn seniority back at their new job.

Research, research, research because the early payscales and thousands of hours needed to get into the “right seat” are considerations not to be overlooked. I’m not sure your family situation, but for me that also needs to be considered. My family will need to absorb some major lifestyle changes if I chase this dream and I will need their support from Day One.

Good Luck on your fact-finding journey and I hope you find peace wherever you wind up.

1 Like

Great response, thank you Philip. I have 3 young kids and I’m aware of the income disparity. However I may be in a position for that monthly income not to change much due to investments I have made while in commercial real estate. Again, thanks for your response

Similar situation for me, I’ll have a military retirement pension to help me along during the “lean years” of training and time as a new First Officer. Wishing you all the best, and to be honest I’m jealous of your situation. I wish I’d have made this jump about 2 years ago to make this more of a true “career change” that had more longevity and financial viability. I’m still likely to do this, but if I were your age I’d be moving at the speed of light toward that Right Seat! Cheers.


There are of course no guarantees but I just met a 56yo new hire at United



I would say you still have a chance at the majors, but I sure wouldn’t waste any time getting started. The sooner the better.


1 Like