Debating between career paths - teacher vs pilot

Hi all, I am new here and am really enjoying the threads on this site.

I think I have a pretty good idea of what I’m in for (timing, finances) if I go all to be a pilot.
(So far I have 10 hours on my PPL and am studying GLEIM text.)

While the benefits of being a pilot for a major airline are wonderful, I can’t seem to fathom raising a family, having possibly dual careers, or even having enough time to fly to pay back loans before other responsibilities make it impossible to live according to a flying schedule.

thus I feel more geared to flying corporately or privately. I would love to be based overseas. I have dual citizenship US/EU, speak 3-4 languages (working on two others).

So this is my dilemma:

I grew up as non-rev passenger and managed to get around 24 countries before my 24th birthday. I love photography, teaching, I love learning new languages, and can’t stand to be in the same place for too long. However, I know I can’t continue my nomadic escapades and am trying to choose between two sustainable paths, that of becoming an international educator, or that of becoming a professional pilot.

I’ve had my Associate’s for 5 years (been traveling and teaching since then)
and the Bachelor’s degrees I’m debating between are Bachelor’s of Aviation - Professional Pilot (50K), Bachelor’s of French Teaching (11K), and a Bachelor’s of professional studies (4.6K) (interdisciplinary).

Keep in mind: I am a 24 year old female with less than 10K to her name, parents who would love to help but don’t have funds to help very far through pilot school (they could give a small push), and who has a seriously difficult time with decision making if she can’t visualize the outcomes clearly.

My questions are

if I were to decide today to go all in to become a commercial pilot, whether that training comes from ATP for 80K in less than a year, or through university for 50K in about two years, how old do you think I would be before finally being settled into any flying job ? major, regional, corporate…

seeing how I am torn between a career in education and a career in aviation, is it feasible to say I could start on both, alternating, and see where both paths lead over time? or can I really only pick one to make it work?

I hope some of you with similar dilemma’s could give insight into how you made your decisions.




First things first, your four year degree can be in any subject you’d like. An aviation degree is neither required nor preferred. While your degree CAN be in aviation, having a non-aviation degree could open more doors for you if you ever need or want to use it.

Also, no one is going to tell you that you have to choose between becoming a pilot or a teacher. A lot of pilots have side gigs. I’m sure you could find someway to pursue both professions. That said, it makes more sense to make your primary profession being a pilot. Lucrative part-time pilot jobs are few and far between.

If you were to attend ATP you could become an Instructor in 9 months, accrue 1500 hours in two cumulative years, fly for a regional for 5 years minimum, and by that point you would be competitive enough to be hired by the majors.

One question I have for you is in regards to your comment about raising a family as a pilot. If you say that you can’t fathom it, then why are you considering it as an option?

There is no one way to raise a family. As long as you have support, being a female pilot with a family is not out of the question. The thing that you need to accept though is that the timing of starting your family and your position and seniority will dictate how much of your time you would need to sacrifice.

On that note, the choice between being an airline pilot vs a corporate pilot is totally up to you. There are pros and cons to both. Check out the schedules section to compare our schedules for reference.

Lastly, it goes without saying, but in terms of which flight school we recommend it’s no secret that we are all fans of ATP. You need to decide what path is right for you, but this is ATP’s forum and we are all graduates of the program and highly recommend it to anyone that is willing to put in the work.

Ok last last thing, while I cannot comment on what it is like to be a teacher, I am married to one. From what I gather most teachers are the overachieving type, which it sounds like you are. However, I also gather that the ones that make it a career are strongly drawn to it. It requires a completely different skillset than a pilot and it doesn’t pay near as much. If you have a passion for teaching then by all means. They do have great schedules and they do provide a much easier lifestyle for families.

That said, there are teaching opportunities in aviation at all levels if that is of interest to you.


It does sound like you’re a bit split on what you want. What holds you back from aviation? Mostly the fears of paying back the loan and balancing the career with raising a family? I’ll tell you as a fellow female pilot, that weighs on a lot of our minds but we won’t be the first to do it! I’ve met a lot of amazing women who raised their children and had wonderful careers at the majors. The loan is what it is. It’s a risk. However, after the pandemic the industry is facing the biggest pilot deficit problem and hiring will be rampant for at least the next 10 years. So you’ll have the opportunity to make it to a regional and hopefully a major to start really chipping away at the loan. The potential income for an airline pilot at a major will be more than enough to help you pay off that loan.
Right now you’re first step is completing that 4 year degree. You don’t need it in aviation so if there is a degree that could help your teaching career (teaching or interdisciplinary), do that. That way you check the box of having it for the majors if you decide to go this route but still have the degree in your second career passion if you don’t. Use that time finishing school to do some soul searching.
If you decide you want to pursue aviation, your degree could still be used as a backup or even on the side if you can manage a schedule for both.
If you’re deciding to fly, ATP would be a good program for you to knock out your ratings as quick as possible (least time unemployed as possible), then secure an instructing job with the opportunity for tuition reimbursement programs with the regionals. Those can make a huge impact on your financial well being. The program I was in covered my entire loan payment every month so the income I made instructing was more than enough for living expenses. As you’re time building and before accepting any tuition reimbursement, research part 135 companies that could have a quality of life that is more aligned with what you’re looking for. You’d be surprised the kinds of schedules out there… some companies have their pilots home every night, some schedules are more predictable (like mine is 8/6 with all the holidays off), any many fly internationally (across the pond not just the Bahamas).
Anyway, I hope his helped some.


Being a pilot requires a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, money and sacrifice. If it’s not something you’re 100% certain of, I recommend you take a few lessons and see what it’s really about.