Things I wish I knew before I became a pilot
Being a pilot is a very rewarding career as most pilots will tell you and as the old saying says If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.
However, a pilot is not all that rosy and for the uninformed, some of the victims that you are going to make might come as a big surprise and could even have stopped you from your training.
Some of the factors that no one could tell you is the fact that most pilots are paid very low wages until they work for a major airline or similar type operator. In order to get your career out of the way, you can also work in less desirable places or work very long days. In the industry it means to pay your fees and the price could be too expensive for some.
If you decide:
If you are still undecided, if you want to be a pilot, consider some of these factors:
The training is exceptionally expensive and it is not a one-time deal, during your career you will continually pay for things, from medical to expensive manuals and charts to ongoing workouts, STOP IT and cost everything money. In the early stages of your career, the amount you have paid and what you spend is just a fight to survive. So if you have a family to offer, get ready for a second job and some hard times.
Before you earn a moderate income consider the time it could take to get there. Training for a commercial pilot takes about 12-16 months on average and add, say, 6 months to find that very elusive first job. Your first job will be flying individual motor aircraft and you will do that for around 1000 hours which can last from 1.5 to 2 years. You are pushed to the next level, the twins, and you will fly them for another 500 hours.
You are now 4-5 years in you career and have 1500hrs which will qualify you for an airline transportation license. You land a job at a regional airline or turbo-prop operator as the first officer and after 18 months you update you to become a captain. They are now targeting a major airline, but most of them want a 1000-year jet time that can be very hard to get.
For 8 years, before you are the first officer to sit a jet, 8 years of hard work, a lot of effort and low pay.
I do not care that I want to be a pilot:
Great, good choice here are some tips that might help you save some time and money.
Forget big fancy flying schools (sausage factories they are called). Nobody cares where you have done your training and it will only cost more. Scheduling and availability is a problem with these larger outfits. If the weather is bad for your flights this week, they can not re-schedule you because there are too many other students. I think I could have shaved at least 4-6 months from my flight training when it was not for this factor.
Flying schools will assess you for an instrument that you will not use during your first few years as a pilot. A night rating carries much more weight in the first few years, costs much less and allows you to get plenty of nightly hours.
Once you finish all your flight training, finish all theory topics for your airline license. At this point, you are still in a study mode and environment, trust me, it is much more difficult once you work full-time a few years on the road.
I enjoy my life as a pilot, it is difficult and rewarding and I accepted the shortcomings of the work. If I knew what I know today, I would still meet the same career, but I do not go the same training route as I do.
I hope this could help future pilots in their decisions.