Real Answers from Real Pilots

Thinking of a career change

I’m 44 years old and have been a paramedic for 20+ years. I’m getting to the point where I am unable to lift patients. What is the real chance that I could attain my commercial license and work for an airline at my age?

Hi Kelly,

While 44 is not young, you could definitely have a career in aviation provided you’re realistic about your goals. You don’t mention any flight experience so I’ll assume you don’t have any. If you start TODAY training it will take you a little over 2yrs to get all your licenses, ratings and build the 1500hrs that are required to fly for a Regional airline. So now you’re 46. Another 4-6yrs to upgrade to Capt and build some Capt time so you’re 51-52 (mandatory retirement is 65). Could you get hired at a Major? Possibly but would you want to possibly take a pay cut and return to the bottom of a seniority list with a lousy schedule again? Maybe. The bottomline is you probably will never be a 787 Capt flying to Tokyo but if you think you could be happy as a Regional Capt or a Major FO then the answer is yes.

Again you didn’t mention any flight experience and again if that’s the case I STRONGLY suggest you take an intro flight. While many people aspire to be pilots if you’ve never flown in a small airplane you honestly don’t know (flying in the back of a Boeing going on vacation doesn’t count). So again if the answer is no you’ve never flown before you spend to much time pondering you need to go fly.

Adam