What a question, and such a variety of possible answers! We’ll tackle this one looking at 3 different age demographics over the coming weeks.
Today let’s look at newly trained pilots at the stage where they have their CPL, MCC, are prepared for interview as well as the whole range of selection tests and so are ready to undergo an airline selection process. Later we’ll look at something close to my heart, the military leaver entering this commercial world in their late 30s with all kinds of hurdles to jump, but amazing opportunities to grasp as well. This will also speak to anyone entering the industry a little later in life. After that we’ll take a look at something I had experience of helping with this year, how to get into the flight deck role you need after redundancy, when you are maybe towards the more experienced end of the demographic spectrum with bags of experience, but where you haven’t been to airline selection or even looked at the job market for possibly decades.
I was a Thomas Cook pilot and I saw just how challenging looking for a new role can be, and still is, for many of my colleagues. With access to the right job market and partners offering the very best preparation there is success to be had here and happy endings all around.
So to that exciting first job – CPL and MCC certificate in hand, interview ready, practice aptitude tests completed in their thousands, but how do we choose the right job? First of all it is about having a long term plan. Entry into most airlines comes with a significant bond or initial expense. Bonds of 3-4 years are common with some companies asking for large upfront costs, so knowing where you want to be 10 or more years from now is key to making the right choice. Your outlook on stability is also important, as is how much variety you would like across your flying career. It is likely at this stage of life that stability is not necessarily your top priority, but major airlines operate on seniority lists meaning that if you want a settled life and the earliest command opportunities (with all the lifestyle and development benefits they bring) then getting into one of the major carriers could be the right move. BA recently offered, and (are likely to offer again in future) a low hours entry option and of course EasyJet and Ryanair have well established routes for newly qualified low hour pilots.
However, with 35-40 years of your career ahead of you (and if you value variety over stability at least initially) I personally believe there is a lot of fun to be had and genuinely useful experience building flying to be gained elsewhere, while still retaining the option to join an established ‘career’ airline at a later date. Often these more obscure options take on very low hour pilots and offer epic progression opportunities. Check out our Job Section for an exciting role for non-type rated A320 First Officers in Central Asia. This is working for a cracking company which is expanding and developing fast. You’ll fly all over Europe, the Middle East and India and could come back to BA, Virgin, Easyjet etc at a later date as a much more rounded aviator. Again, it depends what you want from life. A settled and stable regime from the get-go or a bit of adventure, but with the penalty of joining a seniority list at the end of your twenties instead of the start.
Equally great options exist within instruction. There are many avenues out there for newly qualified pilots to become instructors and I believe this is a superb way to develop as an aviator. As such, Jet Pathway will be making sure we promote these roles in our jobs section so keep a keen eye out for them. Some of these roles will offer brilliant travel opportunities and the possibility to be based overseas. So if you want to spend your mid-twenties teaching people how to fly in the UK, Turkey, the US or New Zealand, to name but a few, why not go for it. Time spent broadening and developing your aviation skills could really pay dividends later on and provide a great and fun way to enjoy seeing the world before settling into a more traditional commercial aviation role slightly later in life.
I think the starting point of a commercial pilot career, with all the initial hard work behind you, is one of the most exciting moments going. Having a clear 10 year plan, an idea of the balance you would like between stability and variety and understanding the implications of any choice are the keys to choosing the correct pathway for you.
Jump to the opportunities within our job section right now, or book a consultation and we’d be excited to talk things through with you.