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Home > Age > Is age a large barrier to a newly qualified pilot seeking first time employment?
Is age a large barrier to a newly qualified pilot seeking first time employment?
Pilot Career - Age
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 19:58

Dear Capt Lim,

I would be very grateful if you could help me with a query. I am currently employed as a senior avionics technician/ maintenance shift manager within a British military helicopter squadron. I am approaching the end of my 22 year career engagement with the military (terminal date is Jan 2007) and for some time I have harbored a burning ambition to seek a 2nd career as an airline pilot, as I will be 40 years of age on completion of my engagement and still have many useful working years ahead of me.

I have been researching several training providers and am worried about the expense, the basic course seems to be approximately £60,000 plus accommodation and when this is added to the fact that I would be in full time training, and therefore not earning a salary for the duration of training (12 to 14 months), the overall financial impact would be close to £100,000, and no guarantee of a career on completion of the course.

As a married man with a young son and a mortgage, I am not sure that I am prepared to accept such a huge financial risk to chase my dream and maybe let my family down.

While I have no doubt that I possess the requisite personal, academic (I have a 1st class BEng degree in Electronics & Electrical Engineering from the University of the West of England) and life skills for selection and ultimately successful completion of training, I am concerned that on completion of training I will be 41 or 42 years old and that a potential employer may not be able to look past this hurdle to see what else I can offer. Is the issue of age a large barrier to a newly qualified pilot seeking first time employment?

Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter.

Best Regards,

Michael Skarin

Hi Michael,

My apologies for the late reply (there are still 26 emails on the queue!)

Your query - Is the issue of age a large barrier to a newly qualified pilot seeking first time employment? My personal opinion is that, at around 40 years, your desire to seek a second career as an airline pilot may have come a bit late in life, but if you think that you would get satisfaction out of this job rather than the financial reward, then go ahead. Remember, without a sponsor, your investment is very high and there is no guarantee of an airline career (maybe a lower-paying general aviation job) at the completion of your course.

I know the aim of most pilots in general is to get into a major airline, fly the latest Boeings or Airbuses (and earn big pay checks?) Even if you have the required qualification, I must say the selection process is quite tough.

Anyway, after you have acquired your basic license and flying hours, and are unable to secure an airline job in the United Kingdom, a good alternative would be to try and secure a job with Emirates Airlines (they have the largest A380 orders in the world!). Recently, they have been recruiting First Officers from all round the world and I are even prepared to hire co-pilots as old as 48 years old. At the moment, they are looking for Captains up to a maximum of 56 years.

Asian airlines would prefer hiring younger pilots (except expatriates over 55 years) but in the West, the philosophy is different. They prefer to employ pilots of various ages to avoid the massive retirement levels they are experiencing now and over the next 10 years. Some airlines regard pilots in the 40 - 50 age group as stable, believing that they are unlikely to apply to other airlines than younger ones.

I must remind you that pilot hiring is cyclical. Sometimes, the window of opportunities may be closed by the time you are ready with all the qualifications. It can be frustrating especially for one who starts late and seeking employment in this field for the first time, unless you have great patience (I know it is not easy when one has already invested so much money on this profession!)

Having said that, the choice is now yours to make whether you would want to launch into this new career. (You have an excellent academic qualification - First Class Electronic & Electrical Engineering. You could have been a Captain on the Boeing 747, 777 or the Airbus 330/340 by now had you taken up this career 22 years ago. Ah... that is another story I suppose)

Wish you all the best in your future undertakings. Smile


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Age limit for joining the airline as a fresher
hello captain......i have a some query
1. Regarding the age criteria.I am 25 now and planning to go for my CPL by the end of this year.By the time i finish my CPL i will be 26-27 years old.Do i have enough time to find the job in any company as a fresher. As some captains told me that you have to start working in an airline by the age of 28. Looking at the current status of airline industry and limited jobs back home(INDIA). Do u think i have sufficient time to find job by the age of 28.
2. Do u think by the time i finish my CPL which would be around 2 yrs from now. The airline industry will be in a better position to get a job.
3. As there are very less job oppurtunities back home(INDIA). Which other countries can i get a job as a fresher. As lots of countries prefer their own nationals if you dont have exp. only if you have lots of exp then only they take u as a first officer. So are there small airlines around where they take freshers of other nationality.

Thank you!!!
Khan , 26 Feb, 2009
Muisc Producer
Hi guys just thought I would have a quick say on whats going on here.
People forget that the age of 25 to 35 is nothing, anyway not in this day and age, Im 28,29 next month and im taking out 2 years to study so I can apply to all the major sponorships! 'if I can get in there'
I am looking at finishing my flight training by the time im nearly 33, However I have the money to do a full time course and I don't have any kids to hold me back! So guess im lucky in that way.
There is ONLY one thing that will stop you all and thats your self, All the pilots I know didn't start untill they were in their late 20's, The age issue is nothing not unless your in your 40's and even then never give up your dream! Dream's are there for a reason! Hope you all well good luck!
Aidan! , 13 Apr, 2009
Thank you. smilies/cheesy.gif
Vishal , 04 Oct, 2010
Aidan you star
Thank you for the inspiring message to our colleague. I am 27 studying my CPL paying my own way - 2 degrees and ten years with experience. Yes the bug was always there but now I am Only able to follow my dream. The risk is huge but the reward may be even bigger - life is so short. Take a chance you never know where it may take you
Wendy , 23 Jul, 2014
Where can I get adviser I want to be air pilot .
I'm asaylam seeker college and I am going to do maths and english Gcse
What subjects have to do with that and where? Can help me please.

Munir , 15 May, 2015

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