IT professional changing careers

Hello, I’ve recently been laid off from my approx. 10-year IT role in the travel booking industry where I routinely only flew as a passenger across the US to most major cities from Dallas, TX, and most recently Atlanta, GA where I currently live.

I’m now 44 and I want to fully pursue a career in flight which I’ve always aspired to do but never had the means without being employed. However, I do now and I want to fully invest myself in the program at ATP if it’s not too late with the 65-year-old retirement age. I’m not sure if this would allow for enough time to become a Captain of a wide-body aircraft, for example. Maybe this isn’t a realistic goal but from reading the forum I could likely still have a rewarding career.

I do have a concern about my current weight as it pertains to getting accepted and getting my 1st Class Medical certificate but I’m working on correcting that. The Atlanta area classes are booked up to March or later so I’m getting myself squared away and in the meantime, I’ve read over the forums and I plan to take my admission flight soon and study/take the written exams - PAR, IRA, CAX, FII, FIA, FOI prior to the program start.

I don’t have underlying health conditions aside from being overweight but, I know that’s not going to work with limited space, weight restrictions, and possibly my admission flight which is why I haven’t done that already.

My questions are as follows:

I have over 10 years of job experience in the IT field. Would this satisfy the education enrollment requirement? Also, would it be recommended to try and complete my degrees for the airline position down the road? I just don’t want to lose more time on obtaining my pilot licenses. I have a partially completed Associates and BS in Network Administration. I opted to study for my IT certifications on my own for the cost-effective aspect.

Will my weight disqualify me from obtaining a 1st Class medical certificate or should I try to get that ASAP so I can work on getting accepted to ATP? I’m assuming I can’t apply until I’m at the 250lb weight limit? I’m concerned about deferment so I want to give myself the best chance without more delay.

Is it realistic for me to pursue a career to eventually work for a major airline as a Captain of a wide-body aircraft or should I think more about a First officer role since seniority may keep that out of reach?

I don’t have a family so I’m very flexible with time/schedules. Would this benefit me in any way down the road with seniority, flight time, or wide-body flight opportunities? Maybe I should look into Corporate flight or something else based on the lack of time with seniority in the major airline world?

I apologize for the lengthy post. I’ve been doing my best to read through the forum and have already seen great advice. I appreciate you all!

Thank you for your time,


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  1. the Majors desire a BA/BS but they don’t care as to the discipline or field of study so your existing BS will suffice.

  2. ATP will not accept you until you meet the weight because frankly, you might not. As for your medical, weight itself is not a disqualifier BUT if you’re BMI is over 40, they may send you for some Sleep Apnea testing which opens a whole can of worms. You be best served getting the weight down sooner than later.

  3. Nathan my friend, becoming a wide body Capt for a Major is the pinnacle of our profession. The pilot shortage has everyone believing that simply given enough time ANYONE can reach this goal. While it has definitely become easier, there are zero guarantees. Honestly you might be a lousy pilot. Bust a few checkrides and your career could be severely impacted. Even if you do well all it takes is another pandemic, act of terrorism or economic crash and you could be stuck at a Regional forever. Not training to dissuade you but if you’re looking for guarantees this isn’t the career for you. You’d be much better off going into this with an open mind, high hopes but the knowledge you might never make it to the top. If that’s ok then by all means, if not again got might want to reconsider. Corporate might be an option but that’s more about networking than anything else.

Finally you mention no flight experience beyond traveling as a passenger. If that’s the case before you entertain investing alot of time and money I would strongly recommend you take an intro flight or lesson. Sitting upfront in a small training airplane is VERY different than sitting in the back of a Boeing. You may love it but you might not.


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Thank you very much for the candid response. Very much appreciated. Exactly what I was hoping to hear.

I assumed the weight would be an issue which is why I haven’t done an intro flight or lesson. I want to get my weight down before doing anything including a medical exam and intro flight. I think I can get it taken care of in the months prior to a planned start date next year.

I’m also wanting to set realistic goals so I ask about the wide-body just for a frame of reference. My main concern is my age and if there’s actual time to reach Captain level at all with the seniority aspect in play. In my original post, I mentioned my BS in Network admin is not actually complete. I opted to attain the certificates on my own since the curriculum was mainly certification-based. So, that may be another limiting factor.

Not looking for guarantees - Honestly, I’m trying to figure out if the goal is realistic at all before I invest and go all in. My ultimate goal is to be a First Officer or Captain at an airline but maybe there are other options I should consider and maybe that’s too lofty of a goal. Given my age and lack of experience, I definitely have reservations if it’s realistic to even make it to a major airline.

I do know I’m driven, very open-minded, listen to guidance, and eager to learn. Having the time now that I’ve been laid off has me in a good spot - I know that sounds odd - but I’m in a good place mentally and financially to pursue something I’ve always wanted to do.

My plan is to get my weight down and do an intro flight/lesson as you mentioned. That’s in line with what I had in my head before attempting to get the 1st class medical exam for the same weight issue.

I know this is unrelated but I’m a motorcycle rider who rides on a bare-bones deluxe with no windshield in all temps and weather year round here in GA (Approx. 25- 30k miles a year). Just shades and a bandana - if it had wings I’d be in heaven! I only say that because I’m finding I can’t go fast enough on land. I hope I don’t sound like an imbecile with that statement but it relates to the thrill (excitement) I hope to find in the air on this new career path.

You’re absolutely right in terms of I may be a lousy pilot. I hope that’s not the case and I aim to prepare myself and listen/study and apply myself as much as possible so I don’t bust check rides if I make it that far.

I appreciate your response more than you know. I’ve been struggling with the plausibility of this for someone of my age and background or lack thereof. I also realize I may never make it to the top. I’m just trying to get an idea of a realistic goal. I’d absolutely love to fly whatever the role - my main reason for asking was to see if that’s even possible this late in the game and what I could realistically shoot for.

Thanks again for the response!



Again, I’m not trying to dissuade you, but if you’re looking for a “thrill”, being an airline pilot is about as far as you can get from that. If there’s ANY thrill when you’re flying, you probably screwed something up and the last thing the 300 paying passengers sitting behind you want is a thrill ride. Airline cockpits are pretty quiet, there’s no wind in your hair and if the there are any g-forces experienced you’ll probably get written up by the flight attendants. Your job is to get passengers from point A to B as gently and unthrilling as possible. Further, the only time you get any sense of speed is for a few seconds on takeoff and landing and you actually don’t notice it because you’re focused on the task at hand.

If you’re looking for a thrill I suggest you do some GA flying and maybe get into aerobatics. It’s kind of like riding a motorcycle with no helmet. Thrilling, dangerous and potentially very lethal.



Fair enough. I do wear a helmet - I didn’t mean a lack of safety.

I appreciate what you’re saying. Thrill is the wrong word. I feel like flying would be exciting for someone who has never done it is what I was meaning. Especially, in the smaller aircraft and the perspective from above. Seems like an amazing experience and something I’d be very excited to learn.

Thank you again for your response. I appreciate it. Not trying to be unsafe or do anything that would put anyone in danger. I’m not trying to get involved with aerobatics. That’s not what I was getting at.



It is so hard to say what somebody will be able to accomplish in their career or not. I will tell you though that at your age, you will never be a wide body Captain for a legacy major airline like Delta or United. Ever, period. There simply is not enough time left for you to do so. Now what might be possible is flying a wide body at one of the cargo companies like Atlas or Kalitta.

To get hired at the majors you will most likely need to finish your degree. Just an aside, but I would not refer to your education as a “partially completed” degree as it is confusing; you either have a degree or you do not. Many people finish their degrees while flying for the regional airlines.

Being flexible with your schedule could be helpful, but at the end of the day, everything at the airlines runs off of the seniority system.


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Thank you very much for the insight. This is helpful.

My mistake on the degree clarity. Reading through the forum it looks like I could put flight school toward a degree or my work experience/certifications toward my IT degree to complete. I’ll keep looking into it.

Taking a look at Atlas and Kallita air - this looks good. Their humanitarian efforts are what I’m actually interested in.

I do a fair amount of fundraising and toys for tots type things with the bike ministry I’m with. The cargo airlines are doing it on a much larger scale which is something I’d like to be a part of.

This is encouraging. I’m not sure what the demand is like for the cargo aspect. I found a post from Adam regarding FedEx offering their surplus of pilots an American Airlines opportunity with some hefty bonuses and perks.

It looks like there are opportunities out there though. I’m going to put my head down, get my weight down and get my intro flight asap. Then go from there.

Really appreciate the response.



Anytime. Let us know how else we can help you.