Focus on your fascination.
I debated about leaving it at that... but I'll elaborate. I was a high school student who had a longtime interest in the aviation industry, particularly the airline industry. I'm the first in my family to even have any interest in aviation and had a number of hurdles, including eyesight issues (since fixed and medicals passed) I may have not been mature enough to set aside and "get focused." I majored in something completely different for University because by default, it was a subject in which I had experience in and performed well. Although I don't regret getting a degree, I do regret my lack of focus on aviation... I could have been much farther along and considerably more senior had I had the gumption to just say "this is what I'm interested in..." and KEEP searching in the right places until I found the RIGHT person to talk to who did not think it was too far fetched for me.
That all being said... I've since found a way in to the industry and had a career working with airplanes for about six years. Don't JUST consider getting to the left seat of an airliner. There are MANY great positions and careers out there in the industry. They will not all make you rich, but if you're like me and have a passion for the industry, aptitude for safety, and would love helping passengers along the way, any role will be worth it. As far as compensation, no matter where you start, for the first couple years as you build seniority/ experience, the pay will not be all that great However, as you stick around two things WILL be an invaluable investment to getting the higher paying job... the resume experience you show (for example safety/ aviation related experience on the ramp, in the shop, customer service, etc.) and your seniority with a company. Whatever you do as you build experience, DON'T FORGET the fact that there are MANY great careers in the industry to be had long before you reach the left seat. Don't discount working the Ramp with a local FBO or airline (airline rampers often get travel benefits), working customer service (perhaps consider becoming a Flight Attendant) and definitely consider A&P training if you have a mechanical aptitude and like fixing things. (That actually pays really well right now and will help with your knowledge of systems when you're flying.) There ARE many great ways to be involved in the industry as a career, including being a pilot. You might have to "hang in there" for a couple years, and people will probably think you're crazy, but I promise schedule and pay will get better. You might have to repeat "hanging in there" with each new position, but it's worth it and you CAN be part of the industry... and right now working as a pilot is very reasonable.
THAT all being said, focus on your passion, and try to find the right person to mentor how you should invest your time, money in professional training. I did not have that person to talk to, and have run into major financial hurdles. It is a true story that many airlines in the USA are offering great incentives for pilots including considerable tuition reimbursement that will help over the course of those first few years if flying is your route. The trick (and frustration) is that YOU must show up with the training, and pay for the training first. They don't reimburse until after you're hired. (So good luck inventing ways to come up with it upfront... that's where some good mentorship helps.) I've run into MAJOR issues with these banks, credit aside, in recognizing the fact I'm trying to fund professional training. The banks JUST DON'T realize that this is legitamate professional training and a proper investment for someone like you or me. (No matter where you train, it's considerably less than some advanced career training- like law school or medical school.) There is a need in the US for Pilots across the industry, and there will be a return on your investment...it will not be immediate... but most airlines are offering some form of tuition reimbursement for First Officers and flow programs to the majors...just expect to put a lot into it.
What airlines REALLY seemed focused on for new FOs is your hours and flying experience. It doesn't matter too much what type of flying... so long as it fulfills the basic technical requirements and hours. After earning you Private Pilot rating Flight Schools like ATP are worth it, as they get you into these positions and many Pilots I've asked on the flight line have said they've attended programs such as this. Again they are a bit of an investment, but if you have the background and aptitude they will get you to the right place.
Best of luck... again... get involved and start building experience. (flight line jobs, clubs and organizations, etc) If the left seat is your goal find any way to build time you can, as flight time and experience are what REALLY matters. Invest in your ratings first over simply getting any degree. Yes, the degree is important no matter what subject it's in and WILL help no matter what subject it's in but don't just go get the default piece of paper like I did because it's the subject you know and make good grades in. Consider a two year program or aviation intensive concentration. Again, plan your investments toward actual flying as best as possible. (No idea what to tell you about the banks as they have NOT helped me despite the fact I've had good credit, solid employment and valid reasons to train.) Hang in there when you're "junior" and it seems there is not much pay/ hours. (It will increase.) Have fun and FOLLOW YOUR FASCINATION! Remember I mentioned I've been in the industry about six years? I haven't worked a day... sure there's been days I wanted to sleep in, stay out of the cold, or do something other than study... but I love playing airport for a living.
Last edited by KUZAWU08
on Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.