What’s Next?

Ever since earning my Private Pilot’s Certificate (and even when people learned I scheduled my check ride) the question I get from every one is, “what’s next?” I dread getting this question because I really don’t know. I still don’t know and I kind of hate it.

This past year I’ve been having that switch fromĀ  the “I don’t care, I’ll do what I want twentysomething” to a “responsible, future thinking adult” which has made me realize I don’t think the theatre community is for me anymore. I heard some (to me) horrific stories from older actors about what they had to do to make ends meet. Not even having everything secure when having children. I realized to me, that’s not worth it. Theatre used to be my life, but I’m not too happy doing it anymore. But what do I want to do with my life? I’m not sure.

Part of me knows I’d love to be in aviation. I’m just unsure of where I fit into it or really how to change careers. I know one thing for sure, I do not want to be an airline pilot. That’s a hard no, and not changing. I’ve seen the struggles and frustrations from Jake’s career and now it’s even harder with the ATP requirement. And it’s not that you couldn’t pay me enough to go through that, it’s that they definitely won’t pay me enough. Or at least for a very long time.

Other options have been brainstormed by me and Jake. Air Traffic Controller was his suggestion. I think I could enjoy that, the problem though they haven’t hired in a while and their future doesn’t look the best right now in the US. I’d have to start studying for the FAA’s pre-employment test now though because he knows people who went to college for four years to take that test. Another job I’ve come across is Airline Dispatcher. But as some of you know, I’m not a huge fan of math. I don’t know too much about the ins and outs of a dispatcher, but maybe something worth looking into. There’s also the dream of working for a company like AOPA or EAA, but sadly, a career in theatre doesn’t transfer too well into those positions.

Lastly, the job that’s been occupying my mind a lot if a CFI. Argh, and it’s not a too practical job. A lot are time builders so it’s not a well paying job, would I even get healthcare or then worrying about my retirement fund as well. It doesn’t seem like a practical adult job and has a bunch of the frustrations I was facing working in theatre. It’d also be a lot more training. I’d no doubt enjoy that training though, maybe not the cost of it. Then would teaching be for me? I’ve never taught anything, well, an occasional little girl dance steps, but that’s it. Maybe I’ll just work towards building 50 hours of cross-country time required for my instrument rating and see where that takes me.

There’s a lot to consider, and eventually I’m just going to have to take a leap no matter what the decision.

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10 thoughts on “What’s Next?

  1. I just went to a seminar given by an airline pilot who’d spent time bush piloting up north, as a CFI, and a bunch of other jobs, and it sounds like pilots very often move from one job to another trying different things. People ask me what I want to do with my commercial license, and the answer I’ve given so far is “fly aeroplanes.” The presenter also encouraged us to be ready to take whatever job was available, and not narrow our prospects by being picky when we’ve never tried it to know what it’s like.

    I had originally said I didn’t want to instruct, mainly because I read it was what a lot of people did just to build hours, not because they liked it, and I didn’t want to do something I didn’t like, and also because I heard so many accounts of schools being financially unstable, and instructors being laid off, or just not having any students to train. But then I started with Harv’s air, and I love the environment there, and it’s a successful school, extraordinarily financially stable for a flight school. So then I stopped to think about it, and realized that in previous jobs, I’ve been picked to help mentor new employees a lot because I’m good at it, and can do it without making them feel stupid. So I’d probably make a decent instructor.

    With the projected pilot shortages, you’ll probably have lots of options. You don’t have to hurry. Have fun with it :)

    • We’re holding our breath about the pilot shortage. This isn’t the first time there was suppose to be a “pilot shortage” in the past decade or so. It’s been mythical so far, the major airlines will most likely never have an issue hiring pilots.
      We also have an agreement on Jake’s end that we’d never “chase metal” He got extremely lucky after moving airlines to live in base both times, but we’d never move if he had a different base, he’d just commute. If I were to go further into aviation I think the same rule would apply. We’ll live where we want to live, not just following the aviation industry because it’s so unstable.

      • My husband’s resigned to moving, even though I keep telling him that I won’t if I don’t have to, and I’d prefer not to. If there is a pilot shortage, it probably won’t affect jake so much – he’s already fairly close to the top of the food chain. It’s more likely to open up jobs at the entry level of the industry. Anyway, at the very least, we’re not heading into a period where pilots are going to being laid off in droves like in the 90′s.

      • Oh no, he’s no where near the top of the food chain, sadly. If his company goes bankrupt he’ll be one of the first laid off (even with the looming shortage that happened to his last company.) There has been some movement within his company due to the older pilots at majors retiring finally so guys who got hired when there was a 3 year upgrade are finally upgrading after 7 years of waiting. Unlike if his last company didn’t go bankrupt he’d be a captain now instead of sitting on reserve (at least he’s near the top of the reserve list) now he just has to become a line holder, then upgrade, sit reserve again, get a line, get hired by a major, get off reserve, and gain some seniority and we’ll be good! He’d be happy with high seniority FO at a major, if he never makes it to CA at a major. The food chain is quite long even after getting into the airlines.

      • Ah, I got the impression he was up higher than that if he was working for an airline – maybe there’s terminology that’s different in the US and Canada that confused me.

  2. I’d take the pilot shortages thing with a grain of salt as they’ve been projecting that for at least 20 years now.

    AOPA and EAA have openings right now and you can also see if you can volunteer your way into a job. For airlines there are another jobs in customer service / flight attendant you could look into.

    Another idea is seeing if you can write for aviation magazines. If you summarized your blog into a magazine length article you could submit it for possible publication / payment. You obviously enjoy writing and communicating with people so there’s marketing / communications types jobs you could look into (In or out of aviation), although you might need a spot of additional school for that.

    The aviation industry is tough and you could also consider instead working in another more stable / lucrative field and continuing to fly on the side for recreation.

    • Both Jake and I are unsure if the pilot shortage is real or not this time. We’re hoping for his career it is, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
      I did apply for an AOPA job, but it’s hard for people outside of theatre to understand my experience and how it applies to their positions. I’d never want to be a gate agent or flight attendant. I don’t need people yelling at me for things that aren’t my fault, haha been there done that but in a “manager” position!
      That has crossed my mind. Maybe I could make something along those lines works. I’ve been thinking about social media for flight schools, but you’re right I’d need some more classes on marketing and such.

  3. A good CFI is worth their weight in gold. If it’s something you’re interested in, and you have the patience and the desire to help others learn, please consider doing so. You -can- make a living doing it, but much like being a wedding photographer (a career I was looking very seriously at), you need to do it because you love it, because it’s not going to pay very well. As you see, plenty of competitors, many of whom are building time for the airlines. But students know if their CFI’s just building time.

    If I were young enough to be an ATC, I’d love to: it appeals to my problem-solving nature. Depends on what you’re looking for.

    The pilot shortage sounds like it’s going to be pretty impressive: if you have any interest in doing anything in aviation for a living, it seems like a good time to do it. If there’s something else you’d rather do, think seriously about doing it, and you can do aviation on the side.

    • That’s just like theatre. In school, they drill into your head that if you can imagine doing anything else, do it because it’s not worth it if you don’t love it. A lot of the comments seem to be talking right out of the theatre world about the “unstableness” and loving what you do. I’ve already made an okay living off of another “passion” for a career (or what most people consider a hobby, not a job.)
      I’m the same way, it totally appeals to my problem-solving nature as well.

  4. New ATC are always in demand. Their wash out rate is almost as high as for pilots. Where you got the idea that they haven’t hired in a while might be a local rumor. If you are willing to relocate for a job then keep it in mind.

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