In the following article I will mention 10 reasons for not becoming a pilot. Please note that these reasons are from my point of view only and may not be applicable to every person who wants to be a pilot.
1. Job guarantee/security
• You have to spend lots of money to study aviation. A job may not be guaranteed despite spending large amounts of money.
• You have to pay for your training in the company. The more prestigious the airline; the higher their fees may be. Another factor that will make the cost higher is: location of the school (what country it is based at).
2. Personal life
• Compared to many other professions, working in aviation is totally different from the rest. You don’t get your standard days off or weekends off. Majority of your time will be spent on the job and away from your family. You will be away from your family for days, if not, weeks at a time. As a result, you may miss important/life changing family occasions such as weddings or other ceremonies/holidays.
• As a pilot, you can’t schedule yourself to attend these occasions and change your working days; you simply don’t have that freedom. For some, this is a commitment that they aren’t prepared to take.
• It also has an effect on your children because of the time spent away from home and family. You may miss important stages of their life; it will be tough to parent and discipline a child properly when you are spending so much time away from them. In extreme situations, this may unfortunately cause arguments in a household and/or relationship. It can be a negative barrier in your life.
3. Sleep pattern
• Some companies in Europe do not operate flights at night. However, most airliners do operate at night too (especially in Asia). In Europe, flights have a roster. There will be a certain number of flights during the entire day: early morning flights, afternoon, evening and nights.
• You will have different shifts at different times and this will likely cause a disturbed sleep pattern but even more importantly and negatively, it will affect your health. In general, the day is working and the night is to sleep/rest. Working during the night will cause excess stress and fatigue and have a negative impact on your body.
• It should come as a surprise to know that constantly flying at high altitudes of 39,000 – 41,000 feet will certainly have an effect on your body, sooner rather than later. Consequently, this will expose your body to different conditions one of them is pressurisation. For example, the cabin altitude could reach up to 8,000 feet and this means that you are breathing in oxygen as if you are on top of an 8,000 feet high mountain. Therefore, the oxygen you receive will be less than if you are on the ground and/or at or above sea level.
• The air inside an airplane cabin is dry due to the bleed system. As a result of this, your skin will be exposed to becoming drier than normal, especially on a long haul flight, you will feel thirstier and your skin will feel very dry. You can take care of keeping your skin healthy by drinking a moderate amount of water.
• Exposure to radiation. If you are flying a private jet that’s flying at 45,000 feet and crossing the Atlantic, you’ll be exposed to a small amount of radiation. However, the more often you fly the more exposed you become. So, your radiation level must be monitored.
5. Medical checks
• As previously mentioned in a previous article, medical checks have to be renewed every year or every 6 months (depending on the company). If you are over 40 years old; most of the Civil Aviation Authorities require a check to be performed every 6 months.
• You must pass your medical in order for you to continue your duty as a pilot.
• If you fail it then this can be very stressful because you can lose your licence.
• There is a common misconception among people that pilots earn high salary that makes them super-rich. This is not true. As a matter of fact, there are many jobs that actually pay more than that of a pilot.
• Pilots should earn a lot more than what they actually earn because there are many risks that come with this job. Training to become a pilot requires a lot of money to even study and it can take many years to earn that money back through wages.
• While it is true that some companies offer a flattering wage; most companies do not.
7. Age limit
• The age limit for pilots (varies from company to company) is in the range of 60-65, unlike some other professions where there isn’t an age limit. Even if you are in great shape/health, once you reach the age limit, that’s the end of your pilot career.
8. Unstable lifestyle
• There are many pilots that work abroad. For example: a pilot born in the US works for a Middle Eastern airline. The lifestyle there is very different than what they are used to. Lifestyle factors such as culture, people, food, environment and language come into place.
• If your contract with one company ends, you could choose to go to another company based in another country. Some people may not like major frequent changes, they like stability in a job/career so this is definitely something to consider too.
• In order for you to keep your pilot licence, you need to pass a simulator test every 6 months. In addition to this, you have to do courses and other tests; this can add to your already heavy workload and lead to stress-related problems. A lot of hard work, commitment and effort are required by you in order to be successful.
• If you fail, you risk losing your licence or job.
• Once you are fully graduated, there are some jobs that train you beforehand and do not require regular tests, so this is an option for those who not too keen on vigorous tests/exams.
10. Limited jobs
• Majority of the money that a company earns is spent on fuelling aircraft. When oil prices are low; an airline can afford to expand their fleet creating more job vacancies. However, when oil prices are high, then companies start to struggle and it costs a lot more to fuel their fleet. If an airline is struggling, people’s jobs could be at stake.
The reasons I have stated above are not limited to just these 10 because they may vary from person to person. A pilot’s life is unique as it is an opportunity to discover something new every day.
Don’t let these reasons put you off becoming a pilot because if it is your dream to become a successful pilot, then nothing should stop you achieving and fulfilling that dream.
I wish you all the best, fellow aviators.