Real Answers from Real Pilots

Too late?

Hello All, I am new to this board and from what I’ve seen there seems to be good honest opinions here so I am going to ask my question. I am currently a Law Enforcement Officer with a State. I have been flying recreationally for about 20 years. Recently I got the notion to go for it in the aviation industry. I just received my Instrument Ticket and will be done with Commercial in the next couple of weeks. I am 44. I have sent ATP and another Flight School a request for information on becoming a CFI and staying with the school for time building. My question is this… Is it too late for me to make the career change? Flying has always been my passion but I never had the opportunity because of finances to finish my training. So lay it on me. Thanks in advance.

Daniel,

First offer ATP no longer offers their CFI program as a stand alone. It’s only available as part of the career pilot program. My next question is how many hours do you currently have after flying 20yrs? The min requirement (as you probably know) is 1500hrs so if you’re close you might not even need the CFIs? Anyway to your question. The short answer is definitely not.

Again I have no idea how many hours you have but let’s assume after 20yrs you’re at least half way there. If you can get a pert time instructor gig and hopefully build the balance in the next year or so putting you at 45. That gives you a 20yr career flying airplanes which isn’t bad at all. You’ll have no problem getting hire at a Regional as they’re aggressively recruiting pilots and actually like older ones because there’s a better chance you’ll stick around. See after 5-7yrs at a Regional and after upgrading you’ll have a decision to make. Do you stay at a Regional as a Capt making $100kish with a pretty good schedule or do you move on to a Major for the chance to fly something bigger and make some more money knowing it’s back to the bottom with a lousy schedule, no seniority etc? The answer is entirely up to you. The reality is you’ll probably never be a widebody Capt flying around the world but you could definitely be a Regional Capt, a widebody FO or maybe even a narrowbody FO. If that all sounds good to you then I say go for it.

Adam

Adam, Thank You for your reply. I didn’t do a lot of flying in those 20 years other than staying current as a Private Pilot. So currently I have 315 hours total time. (Most of it Complex my Father owns a Cardinal RG). So that is why I am wanting to go the CFI route for time building. Does ATP only hire IP’s that go through their program or will they hire a guy like me to teach once I have my CFI? I know there are a lot of flight schools hiring IP’s but I would like to teach at a reputable flight school. Also I am wanting to do the CFI as a full time position.

Daniel,

ATP will on occasion hire non-student instructors. You do have to understand ATP guarantees instructor jobs to it’s students so they obviously get first crack. It also is beneficial to have pilots that have been through the program and will train the “ATP way”. However if there’s a location that’s needs and no student desires it they may do so. I recommend you contact ATP admin and ask if there are or will be any openings.

Adam