This is the first article in the aviation career series publication by Airspeed Junkie. You will find a lot of commentary and hidden advice throughout the series, however the end choice is yours. Keep in mind I refer to over 30 years of aviation experience when sitting down to pen this article about money and an aviation job as a pilot. Included in the article will be links out of this site to other sites that have valuable information to give.
“If it matters how much you get paid, your not in a job that you really love” Mark Cuban
In the example I used before with sitting down with my father, this is where we started. We started here because that is all we knew, and it turns out, for me, that this was a silly place to start. You may agree or disagree but you really won’t have your final answer until you read through and think about ALL twenty questions in this the previous article.
Times are different and airlines are evolving, competition is brutal and margins are thin. What does that mean to you? It means that pay is not what it used to be. Sure there are some killer pay scales out there, but getting to them is a long process. I have always said, you can make a hundred thousand dollars doing a lot of different jobs in today’s marketplace. Getting past that 100K mark to the 200K mark takes much longer and is harder. It is not impossible, but it is important to know that the economy has a lot to do with the health of aviation industries especially airlines.
If the economy tanks and you are not in the perfect spot, your career will stall or slow significantly. This is important to think about, it is similar to investing money, one has to ask themselves how risk adverse are you? Economies are cyclical, which means they go up and down. Fuel is the highest cost for most aviation companies and fluctuates with the economy. If costs rise the next highest expense is labor and that is where companies go next to trim the fat and stay competitive. While dreaming of being a senior airline pilot with a fat income, there are risks associated with that.
I am not going to give you a list of positions and companies that you can use to choose your aviation job as a pilot. There is a ton of that out there. We will include those links. Rather I would rather talk about the concept of money in aviation and the demands that come with the higher pay scales. Think about these points
- Big airline money means a traveling lifestyle and being away from home.
- Less paying jobs can mean better quality of life
- Better paying jobs tend to offer no better aviation job security
- Peer pressure to make the “big bucks” is silly, security comes from doing something you love more than loving a big pay check or an image.
- After a while, airline schedules are boring, its just another city on just another day. Aviation can be so much more interesting in that bus driver type of mentality.
- If you did not Google every possible keyword scenario associated with the type of pilot position you are seeking as an aviation job, you are short changing yourself
- In the turbulent world of airline flying, cargo flying is as steady as a rock.
Good Links that will help you figure out the pay information.
- Aviation Industry Earnings at Av Jobs
- Aviation Pay Comparisons by Airline Pilot Central
- Military Pilot Pay by Military.com
- Regional and Airline Salaries by Will Fly Food
- Flight Instructor Pay thread at Ask a CFI.com
- Flight Instructor Salaries Comparisons
- Pilot Pay Math and how hourly pay is figured, interesting discussion
- CFI Pay Discussion, a good thread on airliners.net
- Cargo flying article by the Wall Street Journal
Money is so overrated
You could easily just read this article and skip onto the next one. It really needs to be thought about, researched and talked about. In our house, we talk through things thoroughly, its the process that solidifies your decisions. Corporations do the same thing, they talk through concepts and discuss all the details and when they think they have talked enough about it, they talk about it some more. Choosing the right aviation job is an important decision and one that should not be taken lightly. It is a decision that you want to get right from the start, otherwise changing gears can slow you down.
See general aviation crew tags here.