Are you aspiring to be a pilot? If so, then this article will help you evaluate your options and rediscover yourself as you decide what to do next.
It takes hours of training and education to be an airline pilot. However, the payoffs and perks that come with the job are exceptional. The job requires making frequent travel runs far from home, which includes weekends, nights, and holidays. Besides, you need to have at least a high school diploma and FAA commercial pilot license together with FFA certification.
Pilots have a lucrative paycheck with an average of $112,000. The earnings are higher for versatile and more experienced pilots. Working as a commercial pilot boosts your earnings higher, and you can find side jobs like working as a flight instructor, private plane service, or charter plane service.
Pilots generally receive a healthy benefits package that includes life, health, dental and vision insurance, and a sizeable retirement plan. Consequently, they get paid vacation, which increases depending on the years of service in the industry. It is not all business at the airport as pilots to enjoy downtime between flights, which can be two weeks in a month. Basically, this translates to much free time to spend engaging in leisure activities and other business endeavors.
Traveling is their occupation, and they have a chance to travel the world and visit different airports. So it is safe to say that pilots have more opportunities abound to learn cultures and lands and can take their family on the free travel perks. Just like in life, every job has challenges. Below are the pros and cons of being a pilot.
10 Pros of Being a Pilot
The wages of pilots are sizeable, and you can live a comfortable life and afford to make investments. Starting pilots have a lower salary, but it increases as their experience grows, and they become veterans in the industry. The more you fly and grow in the industry, the bigger your salary and perks get. Some pilots earn as much as $200,000 annually, which is cool!
2. You have an opportunity to travel destinations
Being a pilot is an adventure as your job description is flying. Every time you step into that cockpit, you are excited to fire up the engines and take off. The excitement never wears off, and you have an unlimited chance to see sunsets, stormy skies, and visit incredible destinations, which are memorable experiences. Seasoned pilots talk about the adventure of flying as the best thing to happen to them.
3. A rewarding profession
From the moment you take your first solo flight, you know this is an amazing profession. Your first landing will always be memorable. You have a chance in a lifetime to fly to various destinations and fly different aircraft. Stepping into the cockpit means you have earned the right to fly the plane, and all your hard work has finally paid off.
4. Public service
Traveling the world means getting the chance to transfer people to various places around the work as you fly the plane from one point to the next. You too get to transverse the world in the process and book cheap flights to various exciting places when not working. In fact, it is a chance to explore those places you have dreamt of visiting or seeing.
5. Unlimited learning experience
The aviation industry is always evolving, and there is much to learn as a pilot. Being a pilot means you must be open to improvement. Flying helps keep you on your toes both theoretically and practically. The industry gives you a chance to learn about the technological advancement in the aviation industry and safety procedures and maneuvers that can save lives if there is a problem.
6. Flexible working hours and exciting job
Being a pilot is different from any 9 am – 5 pm job. Averagely the 9 am – 5 pm worker spends most of their time throughout the year working in that same corner office or cubicle and commuting that same route and routine week-in-week-out. However, a commercial pilot enjoys flexible working hours, and the cockpit is far from being dull or boring, like most cubicles or offices. The flight routes change regularly, which makes the job very adventurous and exciting.
7. No work carryovers
When you leave the airport, the work remains behind. There is no bringing work home like most professions which can interfere with your free time or entertainment. The task of the airline pilot is flying the plane they are assigned. When the task is complete, the pilot is free and waits upon the next flight schedule. Once the work is done, the pilot can return home to their family. To put it plainly, pilots can afford to leave their work at work, which makes the profession more luxurious.
8. Attractive allowances and perks
Pilots enjoy benefits and perks like free accommodation, food, travel, and other allowances. You get to sleep in amazing locations and hotels that would have cost you a fortune. Besides, the allowances enable you to give your family a good life and engage in exciting activities after the flight.
9. Acquire new skills
Flying airlines gives an opportunity to enhance your skills in multi-tasking. Besides, you learn to prioritize things and vital task-management skills. These skills will help you in your life and make your life more fulfilling and career prosperous.
10. Power and freedom
Pilots have about eight off days every month. Between duties, you can have 4-off days without taking a leave. Flying is exciting and gives you a sense of freedom and power, unlike any other profession. You have an opportunity to see places from the skies. The job has great appeals if you love adventure. You experience new things, see new places and meet new people continually. You travel like an expat. The power of flying an airline is a bliss.
10 Cons of Being a Pilot
1. Flight school
Pilot training is expensive. The initial investment is high, and not everyone can actually afford it. There is no guarantee of finding a job after graduation. It is hard for junior pilots, and most are forced to start small or take regional airlines, which involves flying small aircraft. Juniors take a home low salary, which increases as they get more flying experience.
2. Spending more time away from family
Averagely, pilots spend 360 hours every month way from their loved ones. Being away can affect your relationship and bonding with your family. The situation is worse if you are flying on weekends, during holidays and nights.
3. Irregular schedules
The job may be exciting, but you can have irregular schedules that can affect your relationships back home. This can lead to loneliness and a lack of a stable relationship, which can affect your self-esteem around people with successful relationships. The aviation industry doesn’t know holidays or weekends.
4. The stress of having life in your hands
Firing up those engines and taking off is exciting. However, pilots are always on constant alert as they have the lives of hundreds, possibly in their hands, who are counting on you to get them to the next destination. Any mishaps can be stressful for the pilot in the cockpit.
5. Flying airlines is mostly life long decision
It is difficult to switch airlines as you will be starting afresh in the seniority number and getting a low salary. Most pilots fly the same airline for years and even retire there. Layoffs can happen anytime in a swing economy, which can leave you without a source of income. Pilots get furloughed all the time, and pilots have experiences of having gone through that experience or knowing someone who did.
6. Flight routines are seniority-based
It is difficult to bid a certain aircraft or schedule as your years of experience at the airline matter a lot when making those decisions.
7. Routine medical test and recurrent training
All pilots must undergo a regular medical exam. Failing the medical exam can end your flying profession. Consequently, you undergo recurrent 6 – 12 months of recurrent training, which is unlike other jobs.
8. Layovers are unpleasant
Layovers are less exciting in this career as you can end up in an airport hotel mostly without seeing much of the country. It is difficult to describe experiences for layover flights. The situation is the same, even on international flights.
9. Missing important family events
Pilots can miss important family special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. because of their flight schedules. This can affect your family relationships and lead to conflicts. This can leave your kids feeling unloved more so if you miss more birthdays. Pilots with no seniority work on special days like independence day, new year, Christmas, or Easter. Without seniority, you have no control over your schedule and can hardly spend those times with your loved ones like other families.
10).Night flights affect your sleep cycle
Flying long hours can affect your sleep cycle. Pilots despise the red-eye flights as they are very uncomfortable. The constant changes in schedule affect your routine, and you may not be able to settle down with your partner. You live the life of an expat.
Being a pilot is exciting. Before you become one, it is vital that you understand the pros and cons of being a pilot. The goal is to know what kind of career you are choosing and the challenges to expect. Learning the pros and cons of being a pilot enables you to be prepared for the job.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.