Apologies for not introducing myself. This is a sensitive topic and I’d prefer to stay anonymous.
I’m considering making the leap and joining ATP to become a professional pilot. I’ve always wanted to, but assumed it was financial unfeasible. But I feel comfortable flying (I’ve done a discovery flight) would love the flexibility that being a pilot would afford even if it’s after a while and I love traveling.
My concern is my employment history. I have a BA and have worked “professional” jobs, but for the last 4 years I’ve been an “exotic dancer” if you will. I could go into the circumstances that surround that if you would like (nothing horrendous just financial as I live in NYC, hated what I was doing and couldn’t get by on my income)
Because of this I don’t really have any references except for very old ones. We are independent contractors and don’t really have relationships with management and they probably wouldn’t know our real names off the bat.
I also know about how airlines want pilots to be of “good moral character”. There is a TON of stigma against this industry and while I and most of us are very moral people, I understand an airline could use that as a cover for “we don’t want to hire an ex stripper” while making all kinds of assumptions about me. I know I can’t hide my past because of the very comprehensive background checks and I don’t really want to anyway.
I just want to know if I could even get hired at a regional before I take on the debt and really commit my life to this.
I wouldn’t give it another thought and anyone that would question your moral character because you’re a dancer is ignorant.
First this is an amazing time on the industry. The Regionals are hiring like mad. Provided you meet the license and flight time requirements AND have no blemishes on your record (criminal, checkride busts, DUI, etc) you’ll be fine. The Majors are also a possibility if you have a degree (if not you should consider working on one). As for background checks it’s more about criminal activity and security checks than anything else.
That aside I won’t lie, there may be some judgmental and juvenile people out there. For that reason (and I would never encourage anyone to lie) and since you were paid as an independent contractor, I would simply list the places you worked, and for position state “various” (could mean bartender, waitress, chef or dancer). Again when they’re checking your background they’re looking for criminal behavior. Before you get hired by any Regional you’re going to have to flight instruct for about 1.5yrs to build the time. Work hard, make some good connections, get some references and again a Regional won’t be a problem. Same deal at the Regional. Work hard, network, get some good letters of rec and what you did in the past (again as long as it wasn’t criminal which dancing isn’t) won’t be a factor when applying to a Major.
In truth I’ve been doing this for a while and I actually have a few pilot friends who had various jobs in “adult entertainment” (ranging from dancing to magazine and film). With that in mind I will offer some friendly advice. You’ll probably be better served if you keep it to yourself. Not that you should be ashamed but I know a some who have disclosed and a others who have not. Unfortunately as you say there can be a stigma but more so people can be jerks. Nothing terrible, just unnecessary discomfort.
That puts me so much at ease! I have a clean record and already have a bachelor’s degree. Putting so much work and a big financial commitment into something would insure I would do everything in my power to not fail check rides. Nose to the grindstone. I take seriously things seriously.
I like the idea of putting various as my position. But would that come up in an interview? Do they call the places you’ve worked and ask about you? What if someone in management blurted out that I was a dancer and I wasn’t specific about it?
I would absolutely keep it to myself. I’ve been doing that for years so I’m used to it. Crazy I had no idea others in the industry have the same background as I do. I get it’s something people don’t advertise.
I’ve been reading this board for months and really appreciate all the information on here. Thanks mentors! And thank you for the quick response!
Again unless things don’t add up (dates etc) airlines rarely actually call old employers. It could of course come up in an interview and again I would never encourage some one to lie (unless of course you did do other things like bartend in which case it isn’t a lie, just more of an omission) or just be honest and say you were a dancer. I guarantee most interview panels will simply move to the next question and of course there’s always the chance some might “like” the idea (I’ll leave it at that). Regardless as I said I know for a fact it’s not an issue and again I wouldn’t be concerned.
Seriously though, did you really think you were the only one?
Haha! Well, I’m not sure. I guess I see being a pilot as something very prestigious where a sex work (legal) background would be a hinderance. So glad to know it isn’t.
I’ve never bartended so if it came up I’d just be honest. What I did think was, when an interview came up, my history in ATP as a student and instructor would be more important. But I wanted to be sure.
I definitely know what you mean by “like” the idea of it. I have thick skin.