The reason I am NOT training to be a pilot is that I think it is a very unstable job moving into the future. It is very likely that we might not need airplane pilots in the next 10-20 years let alone in the next 30-40. On the flip-side, pilots could be in massive demand and could become higher paying jobs due to this. Long story short, the future seems very much up in the air ;) regarding pilot jobs which is why I’m pursuing the engineering sect of aviation instead.
I would definitely have a back-up plan. I wanted to become a pilot when I was younger. Looking at the developments regarding autonomous planes however, I’ve changed my mind. It’s such a grind to become a pilot, for me it’s not worth that if there’s such a high chance that my pilot career will be pretty much over after 20 years. I’m now studying aviation which is pretty interesting as well. Might get a ppl sometime in the future.
Don’t let anyone stop you though, do what your heart tells you!
Edit: how much you earn also depends on where you start. In the US it’s very common to start in a regional jet. In Europe that’s a little less common so the starting pay is sometimes a little higher. Chinese Airlines have a very high salary for foreign pilots as they have a huge pilots shortage.
The biggest question is when the airline industry is going to recover and if it will fully recover.
Always wanted to be a pilot when i was younger but i guess reality hit me. I come from an undeveloped country where its extremely difficult to afford paying for flight school. Also got some health problems and im not entirely sure if i can pass my medical. Oh and this whole pandemic thing didnt help. But i could never think of myself doing something unrelated to aviation after high school. So i ended up studying for aviation management now. Hopefully when i graduate things will have become better and i could start my PPL or become an ATC. Whatever happens i will still have an aviation related degree and studied for something i enjoy
To be honest that is many many decades away in my opinion, but I agree that having a back-up plan is incredible important.
Medical or personal reasons can make you unfit to fly easily, layoffs do sadly happen after a crisis or just a company bankruptcy every few years in the industry and a completely uninterrupted career at one carrier becomes rarer.
Still the career can be a truly great and unique one if you really love it and I do definitely consider it for myself as well.
Studying beforehand or completing an apprenticeship can bring the back up-plan to fall one should things not work out and is a really good thing to do if one chooses a subject he/she enjoys in my opinion.
This is also what I am doing (studying business in my case) as well, and if piloting works out under good terms it would be nice and if not I can still do what I enjoy as I am qualified by my studies :)
Also it’s possible to have a part-time pilot and office position at some point in many airlines, which is fantastic in my opinion if you also enjoy office jobs as it is a great way to combine flying with a more ’standard‘ schedule.
Disclaimer: I only have very limited knowledge regarding the US pilot job market, so this is written from a German perspective, but the main statements are applicable anyways.
I am aware of some people working in office positions as pilots during at least some days of the month from Instagram stories and pilot podcasts. Can’t give you too many details sadly as I don’t have them either, but pilots can take additional in-company jobs (e.g in the fleet) at most companies, which can be a great opportunity to have an a bit more normal schedule at least for a few days a month.
Having a qualification in a related field doesn’t hurt for sure to achieve this, so if you are interested into business or the technical side of things that is certainly something that can come handy if study beforehand, but in the end please study what you are interested in as this is super important in my opinion and there are roles for many different qualifications!
There is also the option of working for charters, which is more “part-time” in nature and allows you greater flexibility.
And cool aircraft too, like a Citation X or a Gulfstream or a Falcon - which can soar higher and further than quite a few airliners.
Aerospace, also aeronautical, engineering is a broad field that deals with anything related to flight mechanics.
So things like aircraft manufacturing, drone or defense aviation-manufacturing, spacecraft sciences, etc. etc.
It is a heavy math and physics field, so you would be expected to complete an engineering degree in undergrad and some sort of masters degree as well.
As a high schooler in the US, if you are planning on pursuing this, definitely take AP Physics, AP Calculus BC (or higher if you can), AP Chemistry, and such higher level math and science classes.
For universities, of course you have Stanford and UC Berkeley right in your area that are amazing, as well as so many across the US!
There are lots of career opportunities as well, like working for Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, DoD (assuming your in the US), NASA, SpaceEx, etc.
And most important thing to is that there are multiple options to leave or back out if things go south. Unlike pilot training, aerospace engineering entails an engineering degree, so apart from the different fields mentioned above where you could shift, you could also go into other engineering fields like civil or mechanical engineering.
Just to point out, the Bay Area has a tremendous amount of aerospace opportunities, including a lot of funding right now from SpaceEx, Amazon, and Google. You also have Seattle-based Boeing up north, as well as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin on the east coast. There is no scarcity of opportunity in this field!
Personally speaking, I would avoid the commercial aviation/piloting field right now. To many uncertainties and job outlook looks variable on a lot of different factors. In my opinion, if you want a stable job in a field that deals relatively with aviation, choose aerospace/aeronautical engineering.
Just to clarify: YOU WILL NOT BE FLYING IN THIS FIELD, THIS IS AN ENGINEERING FIELD
History has shown that people are really good at adapting to new situations so this very likely won’t be as much of a factor as people might believe it will be.
Regarding that article, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are already computers in development that can think like humans but a million times faster and more complicated. Most big aviation accidents nowadays happen due to pilot error, pilots are basically a legal obstruction for computers to do all the work. Last but not least; the cost savings airlines can get from getting rid of pilots will make them want to swap them out for their AI counterparts as soon as they can.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be a pilot myself but based on what I’ve heard from high-ranking industry insiders, I’m not taking the risk. However, there will always be cool pilot jobs if you’re willing to change your life for it. I mean… there’s still DC-3’s flying around ;) I’d personally much rather fly for a skydiving centre as a side-job than for a long-haul airline as my only job.
Quite the exciting topic you bring up. Funny enough, this is something I discussed with myself and a few lads in IFATC the other day. If you don’t mind, I’d like to weigh-in on this.
Questions like these are often overlooked. People like to give the “follow your heart” message, and while that isn’t a bad thing, it’s not the only thing that should influence one’s decision. This is evident based on the statements you made, such as high costs, low pay, etc.
In regards to that, think ahead. Think where you’ll be in 20 years. Will your love for aviation remain? Will you wish you took a different path? In my opinion, the best way to tackle these questions is to sit down, take out a pen and paper, and create a list. For me, I made a Pros vs. Cons list. The pros mostly pertained to my passion for aviation, and the cons mostly pertained to having a family and a social life.
However, don’t stop there. If you choose to do this, go back and do it again. Make sure that you’ve covered every possible aspect there is. My chart was filled, and I’ll admit, the cons list was quite full. It included mental trauma, A.I.D.S (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome), large expenses within early years, stress, steep learning curve (hours of training and exams), as well as other things.
All said, if you’re not thrilled with what you’ve come up with, don’t let that deter you from what you want. If you know you can take on the challenge and enjoy it, go for it! Additionally, as you mentioned, having a backup plan in place is super important. If you want to stay in the realm of aviation, a major in aeronautical engineering is a great one!
Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that you need to think about what you want to do. While people can advise you, only you can make the decision.
I think that COVID-19 taught us a lesson about careers in aviation. That it is not as stable as we think and that situations such as this current pandemic (where air travel demand is very low) are possible. Therefore it is a wiser choice to get a college degree first*, before going into this career field because the college degree acts as a safety net of sorts.
Personally, this was the choice I made last year; where I chose to get a degree in engineering before moving into the a career in the airlines. Now you can imagine my relief in the choice I made last year when you look at the current situation.
I think Murphy’s Law should be taken into consideration when it comes to doing anything in life. Where you plan for everything that can go wrong, even if it means that the planning stage is uncomfortable.