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Many young pilots wonder where to start their careers, so they ask us for advice.

But it’s not that simple…

In fact, the real question they’re asking is “What are my long-term goals?

Otherwise the answer would be the same for everybody.

Sure, if you’re in your 20s, your long-term goals might seem far away. However, it is essential for you to connect where you are and where you want to be later. After all, those that succeed, plan for their success.

Our suggestion? Imagine fast forwarding your life (including your career) and see what it would look like, 10 years at a time. Easier said than done, yes, but it’s important to know what your motivations are, otherwise what’s going to keep you going? 

Most young pilots are ready to work abroad. For some, it’ll end up being a few countries away, for others, continents and multiple time-zones away. An idea like this might seem great now, but what about when you’re in your 40s? What will that look like if, say, your spouse decides they’d like to come home after some years? What about when you’re in your 50s? When your aging parents need you.

This begs the question: what, then? Is your plan to come home when you’re in your 40s or 50s, only to realize you’ve spent most of your adult life away from your home country and have hardly seen your family? What would be the plan if you needed to return for any other reason?

And to these defining questions, most pilots have no answer as they start out…

Our point? The decisions you make today impact your circumstances tomorrow. And you have the power to set yourself up for success.

Look, many other pilots also dream of starting off in Business Aviation, shunning the possibility of joining a larger airline early in their career. But again, this assumes you have all the answers now, when in reality, you probably don’t. Many pilots (understandably) think about their current priorities, without considering what will be more important down the line.

… because the main thing most (forget pilots) people need? Balance. Though this is especially true for pilots whose lives are affected, more than in any other profession, by rostering, nights out of bed and missed family events. Our work invariably takes a toll on us, as well as the people closest to us.


  • Do most of us stop and think about how our long hours impact our loved ones?
  • How missed events, birthdays and holiday celebrations affect them?
  • How they have to tiptoe around the house because we have to rest.

Here’s what you’ll want to focus on, no matter which path you take.

Tip #1: Pursue a Life of Balance From the Start

Seriously aim to eventually get a job that’s compatible with having a spouse and later a family. 

… and if you don’t intend on starting a family, that’s fine. But you’d rather give yourself the option in the event you change your mind in the future, right? 

Who can argue with having options?

Tip #2: Join the Airline That Will Train You Best

This is imperative for a few reasons, but most importantly:

  1. The first airline that trains you will make the biggest imprint on your subsequent habits
  2. Very small airlines and business jet operators rarely provide the very best training
  3. Flag carriers sometimes also fall short on training expectations

Prioritize the quality of training, as it’s the #1 criteria for your first job and will lay the foundation that you can build your career on later on.

Now, most people agree that in Europe, Ryanair and Easyjet offer the best available training to low hour pilots. They also provide early upgrades, which means you’ll be a captain within 4 to 5 years, and then continue to receive excellent training. You’ll be a top level trained captain in record time. From that position of strength, you can take your career anywhere and probably quite easily make it into your flag carrier should you want to.

And for those getting a first job as far away as Indonesia, both stability and quality of training will be impacted. A great risk indeed, so going there should be a last resort.

There’s also joining the military. Regardless of your opinion of the air force and the navy, if you meet the criteria, do yourself a favor and apply. You can always say no later on… at least you’ll have gone through the experience of selection.

Military training, albeit not commercial, is the best you can get. You’ll fly fascinating missions, filled with experiences others may even admire you for. Plus, you’ll have served your country and later in life, a comfortable pension in hand by the time you turn 40. Military exposure will grant you access to an airline with high chances of success, having had a varied career you can be proud of.

Seriously, if you’re 20 years old and your eyesight is good for it, if you’re reading this and haven’t applied, do so today.

Remember, eventually, in order to achieve optimal balance, you’ll want to pursue your flag carrier. This means British Airways if you’re British and Air France if you’re French. 

Though usually, one has to wait at least a couple years before entering a flag carrier. In the meantime, you’ll ponder “Which Airline Should I Start My Career With”.

The simplest answer is:

  1. Younger pilots should focus on getting the best training possible in the short-term. Even if the airlines providing the best training pay less, the value of their investment in you is what matters most.
  2. When planning long-term, consider your life beyond your career. Then build your career around your life, not the other way around.
  3. Long-term balance for a happy life should always be your first consideration.

Airline Selection Programme helps young pilots just like you find the right path, based on their short AND long-term goals. If you’re interested in putting your best foot forward, attend one of our events to live your dream and start your career not just as a pilot, but as a happy pilot!

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