Commercial Nuclear to Airline Pilot

Hello All,

I’m curious weather anybody has ever heard of a commercial nuclear power plant operator transitioning to airline pilot. For some perspective, say I were a 30-year-old senior reactor operator with no military experience (licensed under the requirements of 10 CFR 55 since folks in the airline industry seem to enjoy citing regulations) who is working on a private pilot license and really enjoying it. I’ve worked in commercial nuclear for 8 years (4 in engineering and 4 in operations) and while I certainly don’t dislike my job, I’m feeling as if it were time to at least have a backup plan if the industry totally collapsed.

Do you think an airline would find this type of experience valuable or would I find a difficult time getting work? How many years of flying would it take to transition to a large (i.e. well-paying) airline? I’m currently guessing the transition would be a pay-cut for anywhere from 10 to 15 years, but I really have no idea. The prospects of a pay cut don’t really bother me, I just enjoy having a sound financial plan.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my question. I appreciate any of the responses I get.


Being a nuclear operator will not do anything for you in regards to being an airline pilot. The airlines are looking to hire qualified pilots with the appropriate flight time. Your nuclear experience isn’t going to help you, but it certainly will not hurt either.

People are getting hired at the majors with 5-10 (or more) years of experience. It can really very widely. Check out our FAQ section please as there is a lot of good information there.