# Considering career change

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#### dragon_rider10

##### Well-Known Member
As i often have flights of fancy, and i'm apparently beginning a mid life crisis very early. I'm considering getting a pilots license, specifically helicopter. i know we have some aeronautics types here. I wondered if any of you had experience in this field.

#### WillMarchant

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Just for the heck of it? Or when you say "career change" do you mean you want to do it enough to pay the rent and buy food?

Oh, and pay for rocket motors, of course!

#### AKPilot

##### Well-Known Member
PM me. There's a lot to consider when it comes to flight ratings and careers.

Honestly if you want your commercial helicopter certificate, w/instrument ratings you should consider a stint in the Army or Coast Guard. Good, bad, or indifferent our Army/Coast Guard folks get the training for free (which can easily be transferred to commercial FAA ratings) and they build up hours quickly. Also remember as a novice commercial pilot, you're competing against all of the hours of an military pilot who are also competing for jobs in this economy; flight hours numbers that may go into the thousands.

A short while back, on fixed wing, it was stated that the trend reversed: there were more pilots who came through civilian channels than military. However, with the economy turning upside down aviation companies are taking hard hits.

Flying as a commercial pilot is rewarding (some though equate it to being a bus driver), yet like becoming a doctor is more of an apprenticeship. Once you get through the hoops, the pay is extremely low to begin with (tennis instructors make more) until you build up sufficient flight hours. Keep in mind that many in the military have a distinct advantage over someone 'paying their own way'. While as a novice commercial pilot you may have to instruct (read very low pay), do crop spraying, etc. to build up hours - our military folks receive a decent paycheck, with full benefits, and are building hours at the same time. Remember the regional airplane crash last year on the east coast with a seasoned rj pilot and a novice first officer? Her pay was less than $20 an hour - having been through$30,000+ in flight training.

The Coast Guard isn't frought with the same dangers as being in the Army and their mantra is to save lives.

When I retired from the Air Force, in 2005, I was aiming to fly commercially as a Bush or Regional pilot in Alaska. Of course I was also 39, married, and have children. Some of my friends who were with Frontier, PenAir, etc. were grooming me to get in. Unfortunately, the starting pay was one of two things, both becoming "sixes": $1,000 base, plus$10 a flight hour, or a flat $2,000. Needless to say, with a family, I had to give that dream up. In hindsight if you want your flight ratings in fixed wing or rotary, I'd recommend anyone to go Coast Guard or Army, with the intent focus to get out at the end of your first commitment. If the Army isn't your thing, remember the Coast Guard gets the same pay & benefits (medical, dental, retirement), all bases are within the 50 states or territories (except one assignment in Japan and the other in the Netherlands), and they save lives. If you're intent on going the civilian route and, initially, paying for all your training out of pocket I'd strongly recommend you go to a focused flight school, with a flow-thru program to an interview. Rarely, can they guarantee you a job, but they can ensure you get an interview and the training is concentrated into a short amount of time. More so than if you were to do it part-time. I'm sure there's more opinions out there and I've missed things. #### Fred22 ##### Well-Known Member PM me. There's a lot to consider when it comes to flight ratings and careers. Honestly if you want your commercial helicopter certificate, w/instrument ratings you should consider a stint in the Army or Coast Guard. Good, bad, or indifferent our Army/Coast Guard folks get the training for free (which can easily be transferred to commercial FAA ratings) and they build up hours quickly. Also remember as a novice commercial pilot, you're competing against all of the hours of an military pilot who are also competing for jobs in this economy; flight hours numbers that may go into the thousands. A short while back, on fixed wing, it was stated that the trend reversed: there were more pilots who came through civilian channels than military. However, with the economy turning upside down aviation companies are taking hard hits. Flying as a commercial pilot is rewarding (some though equate it to being a bus driver), yet like becoming a doctor is more of an apprenticeship. Once you get through the hoops, the pay is extremely low to begin with (tennis instructors make more) until you build up sufficient flight hours. Keep in mind that many in the military have a distinct advantage over someone 'paying their own way'. While as a novice commercial pilot you may have to instruct (read very low pay), do crop spraying, etc. to build up hours - our military folks receive a decent paycheck, with full benefits, and are building hours at the same time. Remember the regional airplane crash last year on the east coast with a seasoned rj pilot and a novice first officer? Her pay was less than$20 an hour - having been through $30,000+ in flight training. The Coast Guard isn't frought with the same dangers as being in the Army and their mantra is to save lives. When I retired from the Air Force, in 2005, I was aiming to fly commercially as a Bush or Regional pilot in Alaska. Of course I was also 39, married, and have children. Some of my friends who were with Frontier, PenAir, etc. were grooming me to get in. Unfortunately, the starting pay was one of two things, both becoming "sixes":$1,000 base, plus $10 a flight hour, or a flat$2,000. Needless to say, with a family, I had to give that dream up.

In hindsight if you want your flight ratings in fixed wing or rotary, I'd recommend anyone to go Coast Guard or Army, with the intent focus to get out at the end of your first commitment. If the Army isn't your thing, remember the Coast Guard gets the same pay & benefits (medical, dental, retirement), all bases are within the 50 states or territories (except one assignment in Japan and the other in the Netherlands), and they save lives.

If you're intent on going the civilian route and, initially, paying for all your training out of pocket I'd strongly recommend you go to a focused flight school, with a flow-thru program to an interview. Rarely, can they guarantee you a job, but they can ensure you get an interview and the training is concentrated into a short amount of time. More so than if you were to do it part-time.

I'm sure there's more opinions out there and I've missed things.
This makes sence
Cheers
Fred

#### shrox

##### Well-Known Member
If you have to go back to school...

#### bobkrech

##### Well-Known Member
from
http://www.autorotate.com/portal/PHPAInfo/BecomingAHelicopterPilot/tabid/66/Default.aspx

"Hours and Dollars

For every level of license there are FAA minimum flight time requirements. In the case of the Private Pilot License the minimum hours are, for almost everyone, very unrealistic. The FAA requires that you have 20 hours of dual instruction and 10 hours of solo to qualify for your Private License. However, 30-50 hours of dual is much more true to life and many take a little more.

You can expect to spend somewhere in the range of $200/hour for flight time with an instructor, and$150-$175 solo time. Ground time is usually in the range of$30 - $40/hour. If you do the math, you will find that it will cost about$10,000 to $15,000 to get your Private Pilots License. These numbers vary depending upon your geographic location, flight school, ability and helicopter model. A commercial rotorcraft license requires that the pilot have 150 total hours, minimum, and 100 PIC (Pilot in Command) time. PIC time is earned flying solo in the pursuit of your Private License and any time, after attaining your Private License, where you are acting as the pilot of the helicopter-even while receiving flight instruction. Again, just doing the math, you will spend approximately another$18,000 to $20,000 getting your commercial ticket. If you already have a fixed wing license, some of that time can be applied to your rotorcraft add-on license, saving you some time and money. Now, here comes the part about why almost everyone gets their flight instructor rating. Most introductory pilot jobs, besides flight instructor, require the pilot to have somewhere between 500 and 1000 hours piloting the helicopter, with most leaning towards the 1000 hour+ side. The most cost-effective way to attain those hours is as a flight instructor. Flight instructors commonly have about 200 hours when they begin flight instruction. In some models of helicopter, you are required to have 200 hrs before you may instruct. Flight instructors are required to have a minimum of 200 hours. From that point on, you are technically employable as a CFI. Now, you may work as a CFI to earn the necessary hours to be competitive in the general helicopter pilot marketplace, while actually getting paid to fly. All told, it may cost you somewhere between$38,000 and $50,000 to get to your CFI rating and start getting paid to fly helicopters. Not cheap. You could get an excellent college education for that price, and you may want to think about that. You do not have to have a college degree, yet, to get a job as a helicopter pilot. But, a college degree never hurt anyone in any career pursuit." Probably not what you want to hear, but it's accurate. Another web reference on job and pay with a different opinion about military experience. (Since they train pilots, take it for what it's worth, and their price for a complete 150 hour course is$43,000.)

http://www.hothelicopters.com/jobs.htm

Bob

#### Pantherjon

##### Well-Known Member
What everyone else has posted is good stuff..However, just my plug nickles worth..IF you want to change into the aviation career field, do so because you have a passion for it. Not a 'looks interesting' type passion, but a deep desire and willing and wanting to eat, breath, LIVE and BE aviation 24/7..I had an Uncle who flew for United and that was what he related to me when I brought up the subject of me getting into the aviation career field..He did. He was a walking,talking encyclopedia on aviation...So, now, with that and seventy-five cents you can get a cup of coffee!..

#### dragon_rider10

##### Well-Known Member
Thank you very much for the reality check, fellas.

I'm 33 years old, married with child, so I believe I'm out of the window for military service. I've got a bachelors degree in communications.

I've always had a passion for aviation, and have considered fixed-wing license before but every time I see a helicopter fly by lately, i think, that's got to be where it's at. It seems like there are so many opportunities out there. Life flight, news and police helicopter, etc. My uncle flies for one of the oil companies shuttling folks to the rigs in the gulf, and to me that seems a lot more interesting than a desk job.

While I knew that most people flying helicopters had to come out of the military, I didn't consider the disadvantage I would have competing against them. If pay is based on flight hours, then there's definitely something to consider. I'll have to give this a lot of thought.

#### GlennW

##### Well-Known Member
Here's a sobering thought for you. I read that "Sully", the hero pilot who landed his plane in the Hudson river, barely made \$100,000 in 2008 as a pilot. This is after 30 years of flying. Of course I'm sure he's cashed in the last year, but these guys are clearly not in it for the money.

Glenn

#### AKPilot

##### Well-Known Member
Sully is also a graduate of the Air Force Academy and flew F-4 Phantoms. So he earned a full-ride for his degree and did the military thing to get his flight hours in.

#### shrox

##### Well-Known Member
When I posted the cartoon I was assuming 2 years at least of school. How long is the average amount of time most people spend getting into the new aviation job?

#### mach7

##### Well-Known Member
John,

You are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage in aviation if you are only considering helicopters. It seems that many jobs are available, but the reality is that compared to fixed wing helicopters are just a blip in the aviation job force. Add to the fact that the military cranks out thousands a year that you will have to compete with. I know your to old for the Airforce, but I'm not sure of the army.

I'm not sure why your interested in flying 10,000 parts in lose formation? But to each his own i guess. Remember the science of fixed wing aircraft is well know, Helicopters fly because the ground repels them!

If you want to talk aviation careers I'll be happy to, drop me a PM. I've been flying for 30+ years and over 25 in the military/airline. It's a rewarding career, but not for the faint of heart.

#### AKPilot

##### Well-Known Member
As a quick sidebard, Mark did you ever fly Sherpas out of Zweibrucken?

#### mach7

##### Well-Known Member
As a quick sidebard, Mark did you ever fly Sherpas out of Zweibrucken?
Yup, opened the squadron in 1985. Lived in Hornbach. I believe we were there at the same time.

The 10th MAS has a squadron reunion coming up in your area soon, I think.

#### sylvie369

##### Well-Known Member
Oh baby can I RELATE!
I had that same cartoon on my office door for mumbly-mumble years of graduate school.

However...I am currently in my second sabbatical*.

* The best word in the English language, by a WIDE margin.

Staff member