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Career Decision (survey pilot or ????)

brvopilot

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I have an interview tomorrow with a very stable engineering firm (established 1919) in my hometown that uses airplanes for aerial photography and surveying work. All the flying would be PIC ME (not sure yet if they are turboprop or piston). I would be a full time pilot but also have some duties on non flying days at the office.

I am currently at a regional with unstable/uncertain/questionable growth opportunities (Comair). At the very best my upgrade time is probably 4-5 years away. The pay at the engineering firm isn't fantastic (around 50k) but would be a pay raise (not pay cut) and the benefits are a lot better.

My question is:

Would this completely kill my chances of every flying for a major (probably) or for a very nice corporate department (fortune 150)?

I would love to be able to stick it out and see where my current job takes me but with a wife and a 2 1/2 year old, I don't know if we can make it another 4+ years at a decreasing FO pay (poverty endurance). I think a part of me always wanted to fly for the majors but now I just want to make a decent pay, have a challenging job and be home for soccer games.

Do you think this would be a wise move for me long term or that it would really narrow what I could do with my career? Or should I just forget the career, get a decent job and be content that I can fly and get paid for it?
 
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C425Driver

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brvopilot said:
I have an interview tomorrow with a very stable engineering firm (established 1919) in my hometown....

The pay at the engineering firm isn't fantastic (around 50k) but would be a pay raise (not pay cut) and the benefits are a lot better.

.....but now I just want to make a decent pay, have a challenging job and be home for soccer games.


I think you may have answered your own questions. A very stable company in aviation is a rarity. There's something to be said for job security, good benefits, and QOL. Those are three things that the airlines offer very little of.

I left Comair and the airline industry about 6 months ago to pursue something else. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders because I now have a better QOL and I make more money. The decision was made easier when I realized that the glory days at the majors are long gone and the only difference between regionals and majors will be a slightly bigger paycheck - morale will be just as low on both sides of the fence. It was a rocky road for me for a little while when I left but I NEVER looked back on my decision to leave.

Also, ask yourself if you truly believe that Fred Betrayal will do anything to make your life better at Comair. He already snowballed 61% of the pilots with talks of fictitious 70 seaters. What will he lie about next?

Good luck on the interview. I hope you get the offer!

C425Driver
 

TransMach

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Survey Job

C425 makes a good point. "What is a job with a major airline worth?" In my estimation, not that much.

A good friend of mine is a UAL standards captain. He's been at UAL for 18 years and is on the A320. He's pulling down $129 per hour, the top pay for the airplane at UAL. With his standards duties he says he'll not make any more than $135,000 for the year and will work 220+ days. His "A" Fund pension has been cut to about 30K a year (or so they are thinking right now) and the "B" fund isn't much. He hasn't saved in a 401K because the "A" and "B" funds were more than enough and the 401K had no match.

My buddy turned 53 this year so he has less than 7 years to attempt to recover from the economic thrashing this industry has doyled out. He's sold off all his "toys" and put his wife to work. Fortunately, he only has one kid left at home. He told me he thinks he's got a 50/50 chance of being able to continue to live in his home in the Denver area after he turns 60, and only if a number of things go his way over the next 5 years.

Now, he can't change carriers ... you know you start over as a junior F/O everytime. He's having trouble changing careers, all he's ever done is fly for the airlines. He's really pretty stuck.

The pittifull part of all this is that there are zillions of guys 'n gals at the regionals, slaving away for 30K a year in hopes of getting to my buddy's status. I don't get it!

TransMach
 

Draginass

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GTFO of aviation. If you can go into engineering, you'll have a MUCH better future and probably be able to buy your own airplane someday and fly for fun, and not for pain.

Most regionals feasting off fee-for-departure guaranteed profits haven't felt the pain of their legacy dribble down . . . yet. Get ready, though, it's coming. You'll soon be living under Mesa and Great Lakes style compensation.

If someone offered you another good job out of aviation, TAKE IT. You owe it to your family.
 

pilotyip

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$135K a year is still a good job and on top of that to get 12 days off per month is really a good deal. Where else can someone make that kind of money with that time off. I know, I know, someone has a friend who meet someone from college who was making $200K/yr at age 29 selling mortgages. My brother a nearly 30 year manager at GM, with a master's in business does not clear $100K/yr. The salary expectations are out of touch with the reality of the marketplace. I would take that job any day. BTW, the top DA-20 pay/hr at USA Jet is $120.50
 

SiuDude

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pilotyip said:
My brother a nearly 30 year manager at GM, with a master's in business does not clear $100K/yr.

Shouldn't have went to college in the first place, right?
 

pilotyip

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No you need a degree to get the GM job, but not to be an airline pilot.
 

Photoflight

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If I were in your shoes...I would definatly take the position. 50K a year isn't amazing pay but its not bad to start. It'd be a raise and the fact that your building multi pic time never hurts even if it is piston. I'd say it wouldn't help your chances with the majors but a good corporate job in the future wouldn't be out of the question at all since you probably have quite a bit of turbine experience already. Also the fact that it sounds like you might have some more duties could always lead to something else.

Questions you might ask.
Is thier room for advancement within the company?
How long was the last pilot there and why did they quit?

One quick question...this job wouldn't be out in Tenn would it?
 

Sticky

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I'd go with the survey company. I've been doing survey work for almost 3 years now. No job is perfect, but my complaints seem much less then most airline pilots. 50K a year to fly VFR only and home every night is great, but pretty tedious too. You'll find that most survey companies are expanding every year. We've bought 4 planes to two years. Also, technology is changing the business quickly. Film is being pushed out, digital cameras are becoming standard.
 

WhiteCloud

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Better pay and home with your family.......take it. Those big paying jobs just aren't in the future for most of us regardless of what job/career path we take. Good luck.
 

hoover

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The short answer to the question is: Yes taking this job would hurt your chances to get hired with a major airline.

Think about it. You will be flying piston multi-engine airplanes. Piston multiengine time is only useful for getting hired on with a regional. You are already doing that. To take this job would be a step back along the career path.

An airline recruiter would take a look at your resume and ask why you chose to take a backward step. In my opinion this would indicate to the recruiter that you don't really know what you want to do, or are not committed to you career goal. Not a good thing for a recruiter to think about you.

If the majors are your ultimate goal, then stick with the regional.
 

hoover

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The short answer to the question is: Yes taking this job would hurt your chances to get hired with a major airline.

Think about it. You will be flying piston multi-engine airplanes. Piston multiengine time is only useful for getting hired on with a regional. You are already doing that. To take this job would be a step back along the career path.

An airline recruiter would take a look at your resume and ask why you chose to take a backward step. In my opinion this would indicate to the recruiter that you don't really know what you want to do, or are not committed to you career goal. Not a good thing for a recruiter to think about you.

If the majors are your ultimate goal, then stick with the regional.
 

typhoonpilot

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Take the hometown job then network your way into a better corporate job if you get bored. Staying at a regional where you won't upgrade for 4 to 5 years is career suicide.

TP
 

Sticky

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hoover said:
The short answer to the question is: Yes taking this job would hurt your chances to get hired with a major airline.
hoover said:

Think about it. You will be flying piston multi-engine airplanes. Piston multiengine time is only useful for getting hired on with a regional. You are already doing that. To take this job would be a step back along the career path.

An airline recruiter would take a look at your resume and ask why you chose to take a backward step.


I'd tell that airline recruiter to go screw himself. Why would a pilot looking to secure his and/or his families future financially be a "step" backwards? That is a prefect example of whats wrong with the airline career path.
 

brvopilot

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Thanks guys!

I knew I liked this board for a reason! Thanks for all your many responses!

Interview is in an hour (1300 ET), I'll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned...
 

414Flyer

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Sticky said:
I'd tell that airline recruiter to go screw himself. Why would a pilot looking to secure his and/or his families future financially be a "step" backwards? That is a prefect example of whats wrong with the airline career path.

My thoughts exactly. I posted a message on here about a month ago, in another thread, that people need to live life for themselves and their familes, and not plan their life around what an airline interviewer might think.

Some people are so caught up in what is a better job, a lateral job, and what is moving backwards, that they forget about the importance of quality of life and a family.

There is a lot to be said for having a job in your hometown, that pays decent, gives you a life with your family, and where you can afford to buy at least some kind of house.

I think QOL, stability, and living where you want, are equally valid, if not more valid, reasons to take a job, besides just airplane size. So what if it is a smaller plane, or equal size. People with normal jobs do not fixate on the size of their office and desk. They think about thinks like pay, benefits, stability, location and family life. And if more people in aviation would consider these things, rather than being in some misguided race for a bigger plane, well aviation might just change.

If some airline interviewer or other pilot looked negatively at you for choosing a job that gave you more time with your family and an actual life at home, well its obvious who has priorities straight, and its not them.

No pilot on their death bed is wishing their had only flown a bigger size plane, but I am sure many thousands had wished they had spent more time with their families.
 

Sticky

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414Flyer said:
My thoughts exactly. I posted a message on here about a month ago, in another thread, that people need to live life for themselves and their familes, and not plan their life around what an airline interviewer might think.

Some people are so caught up in what is a better job, a lateral job, and what is moving backwards, that they forget about the importance of quality of life and a family.

There is a lot to be said for having a job in your hometown, that pays decent, gives you a life with your family, and where you can afford to buy at least some kind of house.

I think QOL, stability, and living where you want, are equally valid, if not more valid, reasons to take a job, besides just airplane size. So what if it is a smaller plane, or equal size. People with normal jobs do not fixate on the size of their office and desk. They think about thinks like pay, benefits, stability, location and family life. And if more people in aviation would consider these things, rather than being in some misguided race for a bigger plane, well aviation might just change.

If some airline interviewer or other pilot looked negatively at you for choosing a job that gave you more time with your family and an actual life at home, well its obvious who has priorities straight, and its not them.

No pilot on their death bed is wishing their had only flown a bigger size plane, but I am sure many thousands had wished they had spent more time with their families.

AMEN!! Finally a level headed forum member! I couldn't have said it better myself. If you ask me, your post should be a pop-up banner one must click "accept" before entering these boards. Just kidding of course. Funny how most pilots look down on career piston pilots, meanwhile it's us who complain the least, fight for QOL, have better pay then some RJ captains, and lives outside of the cockpit.
 
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FlightTraker

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I left the airlines a year ago to be a survey pilot. My QOL has increased greatly. I make more money than Captains at my former airline, have holidays off, (and make enough money to buy a confirmed airline ticket home for them--no more trying to nonrev or trying to find a jumpseat home during the holidays:) ) have spent more time with my wife last month than I did in a whole year as an airline pilot, and am thinking about buying a house. It may not be a "dream" job, but it sure could be worse.


FlightTraker
 

414Flyer

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I saw Earthdata sometimes has a opening posted. How are they as a company?
 

WhiteCloud

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414Flyer said:
My thoughts exactly. I posted a message on here about a month ago, in another thread, that people need to live life for themselves and their familes, and not plan their life around what an airline interviewer might think.

Great post 414. Not all airline interviewers are alike. Many of them/us have families and respect people who make good decisions for the benefit of their families. It might well be the same reason some pilot chooses to work with HR instead of flying the line regularly. They need to be home more. Some of these gung-ho pilot types with their career goals and country club lifestyle dreams can be a real turn off. It's all about them.
For the most part the days of working for one airline for 20-30 years are over. The UAL's NWA's and Delta's will either emerge from bankruptcy as a shadow of their former selves or they will be replaced by upstarts with an equally precarious future as the cycle begins again. Look at Pan AM, Eastern and TWA? Do you really want to chase that at the expense of your family?
 
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