“Never before have U.S. airlines been more desperate for pilots.” - ABC News
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says there will not be enough pilots “at least not for the next five plus years.” Translation: Now is the perfect time to start training. Why aren’t all young adults considering this career?
Some of the many draws of a pilot career are the…
Prestige - the time, effort, and technical skills that you learn are unlike any other career. Less than 1% of the population are private pilots, even less are commercial pilots, and of that 1% only 8% of all commercial pilots are women. [Source]
Travel opportunities - what other career pays you to travel, and gives you the ability to choose flights and destinations as you gain seniority?
Significant earning potential - now is the time. “The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $202,180 in May 2021…The median annual wage for commercial pilots was $99,640 in May 2021.”- Occupational Outlook Handbook.
A dedicated student can take 1-2 years to become a commercial pilot, and an additional 1-2 years to earn the hours required for the airlines. Plus, many airlines even offer “Cadet Programs” that give you interview priority as early as you obtain your private pilot license.
Based on this timeline for the dedicated and eager student, your career as an airline pilot might be only 3+ years away. A person must be age 18 to hold a commercial license and 23 to be airline-eligible (AKA hold an ATP certificate; therefore high school and college age students can choose this path now for a career opportunity never before seen in aviation.
Why is becoming a pilot a smarter career choice than other options?
Obtaining higher education is almost expected in this day and age. In fact, approximately 40% of adults over 25 years old have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher [Source]. College degrees and certificates are the norm… and now the high paying jobs are the ones that require technical skills, i.e. flying an airplane.
“College programs offered at for-profit institutions are the least likely to pay off quickly and the most likely to offer no ROI to their graduates.” - Michael Itzkowitz, education advocate and CEO of HEA Group. [Source] This is why a student must choose a career that all but guarantees a high return on investment.
“Overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.”
The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $202,180 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $100,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
The median annual wage for commercial pilots was $99,640 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,080, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $205,940. [Source].
Next step: Make plans
You are highly encouraged to explore aviation and see the benefits for yourself. Talk to a flight school team and ask about the commercial pilot program timeline, investment, and flight instruction opportunities. Many people instruct to earn hours for airline positions.
Like any other education, you must first put down the investment of time, money, and effort to get any return. Like we discussed, now is the best time to become a pilot because of the pilot shortage we are experiencing now.
Start early. Flight training can be worked around jobs and high school/college students schedules. Again, a person can obtain a commercial pilot license at age 18.
Set goals for yourself; for example, aim to earn your commercial pilots license in 1-2 years.
Enroll in a flight school that can offer private, instrument, commercial, flight instructor, and multi-engine certificates. Better yet, join a flight school that partners with a not-for-profit online education. For example, you can flight train at FL Aviation Center while you earn a degree in Aviation online with Liberty University.
Share this post with a high school student or young adult considering their career options!