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Airline Pilot Question?  
User currently offlineSanDiegoFlyer From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 37 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3855 times:

Hey All

I am currently considereing changing my college major to aerospace engeneering and becomming an airline pilot. I am asking all the pilots or anyone who knows what position a pilot starts in, when they have a bachelor's degree? Is there any difference in starting pay with having a degree or not having a degree? Also, what are the starting salaries for pilots? Do you think that the aviation field is making a rebound, or is it still risky to start a career in aviation? Lastly, what is the maximum salary a pilot can make reasonably? Thanks in advance.

SanDiegoFlyer

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMaxQ2351 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3806 times:

SanDiegoFlyer,

In advance, I'd like to say good for you son!!.....even though you're probably older than me I don't know why I'm saying "son".....anyhoo, I'm looking at getting into the airlines also, and this website has helped me a bunch, so I hope you can get as much use out of it as I have:

http://www.bestaviation.net/

It's got flight schools, and all sorts of info on all of the legacy and low cost carriers....if they're hiring, what they look for on your resume, the pay you can expect to get, all that stuff.

To answer your questions to the best of my knowledge, there are VERY few airlines that will hire you without a degree. Though some may say they only require a high school diploma or equivalent, get the degree anyway is what I've heard from almost everyone. What would be the harm in it, if for no other reason. Also, there is no difference in starting pay if you go in with or without a degree....you'll be paid same as everyone else. Starting salaries vary, but I've heard you can expect about $20.00-$25.00 an hour at the commuters and about 1,000 hours a year. So, about $20,000-$25,000 you should expect for your first year or couple of years.

About it being risky.....well, there is a certain amount of risk associated with any sort of business, to greater or lesser degrees at least. The airline pilot industry will come around eventually.....especially that the baby boomer generation is hitting the threshold of retirment age.

As far as maximum salary, all I know for sure is AA and NW (my parents work for them). Before 9/11, a NWA 747-400 captain made $250 an hour, and as I said, usually about 1,000 hours per year. Now it's down to $200 or $190 I think for the same position. An AA 777 captain also makes about the same both before and after 9/11 as what a NW 747-400 captain makes.

I think it is a good decision for you (and me!!) to go into the field, because the economy and the sectors of it have ups and downs, and it's currently on the lesser side. Everyone is giving concessions, taking pay cuts, losing benefits, but those aren't permenant changes. They can be easily recovered once the airlines become money making machines again. Our day will come!!

-Max

[Edited 2006-04-12 22:12:43]

User currently offlineAirWillie6475 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2448 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3777 times:

DON'T CHANGE your major into aerospace. You can have a major in knitting and the airlines would not care. The truth is that airlines don't car about your education. Major in something other than aviation. Most of your question is about money. The salary is anywhere from $19K to over $150k. Keep in mind that these guys who make over 150K are doing the long haul flying, meaning they never get to enjoy that money because they are never home! Don't go into this field for money because it is not guaranteed. Also, the trend will be that pilot pay will go down a little. Also there won't be any steady pilot hiring at the majors for another 10 years. Keep that in mind. I would look at another field.

[Edited 2006-04-12 22:35:53]

[Edited 2006-04-12 22:37:28]

User currently offlineStratofortress From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 178 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3770 times:

Make sure you get a degree!

Doing aerospace engineering is an excellent fall back plan in case something doesnt not pan out in the long term e.g. fail medical, family issues, get tired of the lifestyle, etc.

I would get an engineering degree, then try for a job at Boeing (who pays for 50% of your flight time and all of your ground school work)... From there, you can decide what you want to do.



Forever New Frontiers
User currently offlineMaxQ2351 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3751 times:

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 2):
never get to enjoy that money because they are never home

My dad is a NWA 747-400 captain and he usually works 9-12 days per month. What do you mean "they're never home"?!?!? He doens't work for half the month!!

Being a pilot is one of the best things there is man!! Besides, if you have your priorities in order, you don't become a pilot for the money, it's just a nice benefits that you get if you stay in the field for a long time. You go into it because it's one of the funnest things there is. If you want to get money, go into business, finance, or the new moneymaking field of the 21st century: energy. Whoever starts "Company X" selling hydrogen fuel, and makes a few smart decisions, they'll put Exxon-Mobile and all the other oil companies out of business and they'll rule the world like a king!! They won't be unanimously hated like oil companies either, because with gas prices flirting with $3.00 per gallon again, we're all going to think hydrogen at $1.50 is a God-send.

Back to the topic though!! The field is most assuredly not what it used to be, but if you love flying, what could be better than getting up in the morning looking forward to work, and knowing that you're getting paid to do something that you absolutly love. You may not get paid a lot, but it's a small cost compared to your love for your job. My thought at least!!

-Max


User currently offlineAirWillie6475 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2448 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3710 times:

Quoting MaxQ2351 (Reply 4):
What do you mean "they're never home"?!?!?

Well, I agree with you it's just that one Fedex long hauler I knew said because of the schedule he doesn't get to enjoy much the 100K he gets.


User currently offlineEmiratesA345 From Canada, joined Jun 2003, 2123 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3697 times:

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 2):
Keep in mind that these guys who make over 150K are doing the long haul flying, meaning they never get to enjoy that money because they are never home!

I have many friends whose fathers work for Air Canada. Some as first officers, others as Captains. Only one does long haul, the 767 F/O and I can tell you that he does indeed spend a lot of time at home, and has more time than the average person to enjoy his hobbies, interests and money.

The same goes for the A320 flyers, which makes up the rest of them.

Mark



You and I were meant to fly, Air Canada!
User currently offlineDualQual From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 769 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3583 times:

Best piece of advice I can give (which I got from my father who is an airline pilot before I got into flying) is have a plan B. Not to discourage you but something to remember is that this is a career that can go up in smoke in a heartbeat. Busted medical, busted airline, oil goes through the roof. Major in something in college that you enjoy doing that is not directly related to flying (aero engineering is still fine). I got my degree in management information systems before I entered the military to learn to fly. Consider that as an option also. At least right now I don't have to contend with managment coming around with the coffers asking for half my paycheck! The other upside to it is you can have some additional opportunities for career broadening. I got to attend the aircraft mishap investigation course as a flight safety officer so I think I developed another good skill that could translate into work if the airlines don't pan out for me. Just something to consider. Again though, have a plan B and good luck!

User currently offlineZeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 9097 posts, RR: 75
Reply 8, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3569 times:

Quoting SanDiegoFlyer (Thread starter):
I am currently considereing changing my college major to aerospace engeneering and becomming an airline pilot. I am asking all the pilots or anyone who knows what position a pilot starts in, when they have a bachelor's degree? Is there any difference in starting pay with having a degree or not having a degree?

No difference at all.

Quoting SanDiegoFlyer (Thread starter):
Also, what are the starting salaries for pilots? Do you think that the aviation field is making a rebound, or is it still risky to start a career in aviation?

Some a very low, read zero.

Quoting SanDiegoFlyer (Thread starter):
Lastly, what is the maximum salary a pilot can make reasonably? Thanks in advance.

Do not look at the $$$, look at the lifestyle. They are paying you money to take you away from your family, keep you in a partial atmosphere with lower 02 levers, higher radiation levels, and more dehydrated, in a contstant state of jet lag.

The gloss and glamour of airline flying stopped 20+ years ago, its just a job these days, if you after money and career advancement, lots of ways to make money outside aviation.



We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking – Santosh Kalwar
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21625 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3522 times:

Quoting MaxQ2351 (Reply 4):
My dad is a NWA 747-400 captain and he usually works 9-12 days per month. What do you mean "they're never home"?!?!? He doens't work for half the month!!

Ask him how much he was home when he was just starting out. Sure, once you get to the top of the hill things are a lot easier, but from what I've heard life in the regionals is no cakewalk.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineFutureUALpilot From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2602 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3489 times:

Quoting Zeke (Reply 8):
Do not look at the $$$, look at the lifestyle. They are paying you money to take you away from your family, keep you in a partial atmosphere with lower 02 levers, higher radiation levels, and more dehydrated, in a contstant state of jet lag.

The gloss and glamour of airline flying stopped 20+ years ago, its just a job these days, if you after money and career advancement, lots of ways to make money outside aviation.

Then why can I not wait to be there?


I agree, it is very hard, and the QoL comes into play but if you want it, then I will tell you what every airline pilot I know has told me....go for it. Your major will not mattre, as long as you are qualified and do well during your interview. Best of luck and keep us posted!



Life is better when you surf.
User currently offlineBoeingfanyyz From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 991 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3480 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 9):
Ask him how much he was home when he was just starting out. Sure, once you get to the top of the hill things are a lot easier, but from what I've heard life in the regionals is no cakewalk.

Well, of course that's the way it works out. You cant just walk out there and expect to get in the left-hand seat of a 747!

Example: David Beckhman these days is making quite a bit of money. Now, with that being said, do you think Beckham just walked out onto the pitch and started making millions? He worked his way up, and probably went thorugh a bunch of crap before he made it to the center spotlight in the fottball world.

Just my $0.02 (CDN)

Cheers,
Boeingfanyyz  airplane 



"If it aint boeing, it aint going!", "Friends are like condoms...they protect you when things get hard!"
User currently offlineAA717driver From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3426 times:

Ok. If all you've ever wanted to do is fly, then go for it. If you are in it for quality of life or money, go to law school.

I went from captain on an MD80 at TWA to the street in less than a year. At least I made it that far.

If the guy at FEX is complaining about not being home, he must commute to a junior seat somewhere (or have girlfriend in his base that his wife doesn't know about!).

As for schedule, some people are working 12 days a month, others are working 20. On your way up, you will work as many days as it takes to make a living and succeed.

As for pay, you won't make squat until you get on with a major. Once you get on there, you won't make squat until you upgrade. That's just the way it is.

YOU will be responsible for your retirement. YOU will have to deal with crappy insurance that you pay $300/mo. for. You may not even get paid to attend annual recurrent training. If you commute, you will have to pay for your hotel or crash pad while on reserve or at the beginning, end (or both) of a trip.

You will have to fly 90 hours a month to make any money. The quality of your contract will determine how many days a month this will take. (Here's a hint--the groundpounders at your airline will envy and loathe you. They are the people who make up the schedules.)

You will be derided by management as being greedy. Management will have a blank check to "reward" themselves for their performance. (Management's definition of performance is overcoming the employee's attempts to rob the company blind by actually being able to afford food for their families.)

Your pay will be cut because the price of fuel went up. (Never mind that management failed to hedge fuel because they received bonuses that sucked down the cash reserves.)

Now, after all of the above, if you are STILL interested in being an airline pilot, I say GO FOR IT! It's a blast and you will have a good time. (The above notwithstanding...  Wink ) TC



FL450, M.85
User currently offline767Lover From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 5 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 3345 times:

Quoting AirWillie6475 (Reply 2):
DON'T CHANGE your major into aerospace. You can have a major in knitting and the airlines would not care. The truth is that airlines don't car about your education.

I've talked with a number of airline pilot recruiters and I can say that this is NOT true...you don't necessarily have to major in aerospace, but a bachelor's degree is definitely a preferred qualification by the airlines. Get a 4-year degree in something.

What the airlines used to look for and what they look for now has changed a bit. Airlines want pilot candidates that can demonstrate:

* Good customer service capabilities. Many airlines now consider pilots among the "front lines" of the customer and they want pilots who can be helpful and communicate clearly.

* If you have a specific area of knowledge, such as meterology or statistics, that helps, because it shows you have the potential to work on special projects such as analysis and implementation of flight management systems and such.

* Good problem solving abilities. Even if your only work experience has been college summers working at the movie theater, talk about situations where you've solved problems between staff or with the customer.

Good luck!


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