Work-Life Balance


After spending 7 years in the corporate world in 8-5 jobs (and more in peak times), I’m seriously considering a career as a pilot and researching different training programs (starting from 0 hrs).

I’ve done a lot of research into training, finances, and different career paths in aviation. My biggest question at the moment is work-life balance. Will I have much time outside of work for other life activities or not?

I realize that the balance will look different in different stages of my career and different areas of the aviation industry, and that the initial training especially with ATP will swing a lot more toward the work end of the spectrum. I just want to get an idea of what to expect going forward from there: as a flight instructor, working for the regionals, working for the majors, working for a corporate carrier, cargo, etc.

Thanks in advance for your attention and response,
Stephen M.


You’re 100% correct that the balance will move considerably during different stages of your career. The first few (training, instructing, then newhire) will absolutely be very laborious. After that its really up to you.

Most people these days want to climb very quickly up the food chain in order to either make money, fly bigger equipment or both (they usually go hand in hand). If that’s your primary interest you can count on being at the bottom seniority wise (jr FO on the plane, jr Capt, etc etc) and that will generally mean lots of work and a lousy schedule. Thing is if QOL is more important to you, and you’re not in that much of a hurry. You can show things down and not move to a Major at the first opportunity, not upgrade at the first opportunity etc and enjoy your relative seniority in that jr position. You’d be sacrificing money for QOL but again that’s up to you. Make sense?



This is a tough one to answer as it really depends on what you value. If being home every night is important to you, it is not going to happen in this job. On the other hand, if you can handle a bit of an irregular schedule, you can be home quite a bit with this job. I would argue that I am home more than somebody who works a 9-5 job as when I am home it is just that, time off.

I highly suggest you take a look at our schedules section as it will give you a very good idea of what an airline pilot schedule can look like.



That all makes sense. With the seniority at play it definitely sounds like a balance between salary and QOL once you get past the new hire phase. I know there are many uncertainties in this career, but I’ll think on it and see how my priorities and prospects evolve going forward.

Thanks for your input - Stephen


I speculated the same. Basically I may get some decent time away from work but it may not necessarily fall on evenings and weekends, if I’m following your train of thought. And with more seniority I’m better able to get more evenings and weekends back.

Thanks for your input,