Advanced Ratings While Working Full Time

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by abreezy, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. abreezy

    abreezy Filing Flight Plan

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    Looking for any advice / tips / thoughts anyone might have. I am a private pilot and currently work a full time (50-60 hour) job in an unrelated field but have always wanted to pursue a career in professional flying. For years, it was more of just a “hey, that would be really cool” idea in my head but recently, I’ve really started to think of it as where I want to go. I am now at the point that I would like to start working on my advanced ratings up to at least Commercial, possibly even CFI. Though I know it would be much faster, it’s just not feasible at this point (with a house and other expenses, etc) to leave my “day job” to go back to school full-time. Has anyone done something similar where they’ve worked getting advanced ratings around a full-time job and do you have any tips or advice to share that you learned through the process?
     
  2. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Advice: sacrifice sleep and work vs time with family, if you have wife & kids. It’s easy to take family presence and love for granted, especially if you love flying and planes. Easy to do. That’s all the advice I have.
     
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  3. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    First off, @abreezy is female. That doesn't exclude wife and kids by any means.

    Now then. From ppl it would not be crazy to study the IFR written and burn all your vacation/PTO (whatever the day job calls it) with someone like PIC (https://www.iflyifr.com) and then next year do the same for commercial.

    It's a sacrifice for sure, but your under 30 so it could work out. Also, without going to far into your situation, a HELOC could be an option.

    Maybe the hardest part is getting to the magical 1500 hrs, or whatever that may become.
     
  4. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    if you can average 1 to 3 lessons a week in it is quite doable, it wont' be fast so just enjoy doing it. Just keep identifying the next thing you need to accomplish and work towards checking it off the list of things to do.

    I took almost 10 years to get my CFI. I just keep adding a rating every 2 years. It could have been done faster, and in hindsight I probably would have worked harder to get my CFI sooner as I really like instructing. I have almost always only flown part time. I have been doing it that way for 32 years now and instructing for 22. I find it a nice balance between my day job and having fun flying while make some money at it also.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  5. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    Of course it's possible! That's how many of us got our advanced ratings, one rating at a time at night and on weekends. Definitely possible. It just takes longer, sometimes a LOT longer.

    With a 50-60 hour work week, though, it is going to be a struggle. I assume this means you don't have a lot of free time after work during the week, and any time you do have, you'll likely be exhausted from working all day. So that would limit you to weekends, which does tend to make it take longer - one weekend of bad weather and now it's been two weeks since you last flew, and on like that.

    Also agree not to sacrifice family and kids for this.
     
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  6. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Working 50-60 hours is a lot. My friends in the legal/medical profession do that and then some. It helps if that 50-60 hour job allows so flexibility so that you can get some daytime flying in...say shifting a late arrival a couple times a week. Unless you're severely not a morning person, morning flights work good because you don't have the stress of the day already weighing down on you. You'll need those brain cells to learn. You're 28, so you'll have to be okay swapping out happy hours for flight training and studying.

    Biggest thing: Save the cash first. Lack of $$ probably trumps lack of time to extending flight training. Good luck...what you describe is pretty much how I did things. A couple ratings I did accelerated: my commercial single, commercial multi, and Multi flight instructor were full multi-day courses that I used vacation time to accomplish. The rest were done the old fashioned way.
     
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  7. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Sorry about that.

    That shows something about my biases. My mom is a retired surgeon. She was at a Best Buy when an elderly gentleman fell and was bleeding profusely due to blood thinners. My mom jumped into action. When the paramedics showed up they asked her if she was a nurse. That bias ticked me off. I just did the exact same thing. Again, apologies @abreezy.

    So I don’t do it again, the same comment about family applies anyway.
     
  8. AlphaMike

    AlphaMike Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m 47. I work 50 to 65 hours a week as an engineer. I just got my IR last summer. It took me about 3 months. The hardest part is staying focused and clearing your mind after a long day. Sometimes, I would get to the airport after work and my CFII could immediately tell I was completely spent! She would say, hey let’s do some groundwork today! We would spend an hour with her quizzing me and to be honest it was time well spent. After that we would do 30 minutes on the simulator and I would go home feeling much better than I did before. The most important thing is that you keep at it and try to do something, even if just some reading everyday. I would watch IFR videos on YouTube while eating lunch most days. Keep learning and try to fly as much as possible!
     
  9. mondtster

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    It is a lot easier if you don't have commitments outside of work, but even with other distractions it can be done.

    After I got my private pilot certificate I worked a full time job while also working full time at the airport, plus finding time for flying lessons. It took me about 5 years to get from zero hours to commercial and flight instructor certificates while also working full time at the airport to earn my mechanic certificate. Even though I've already earned most of the certificates and ratings I'll likely ever get I still work non-stop at the airport maintaining airplanes and instructing, plus a little professional flying. That is in addition to my real job.

    Perhaps someday I'll "retire" from my real job and just do airport stuff but I don't see that happening anytime soon. The opportunities I have to play with interesting airplanes will probably vanish when I give up what I am doing now so I'll keep things as-is. It is just a lot of work.
     
  10. simtech

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    Do you get vacation time? If so take some vacation and do an accelerated IFR and the same for commercial. I did that for the IR, 10 day course and took vacation from work to knock it out. Otherwise if its something you want you will make time, fly before or after work. I got my private while working a full time job in the evening, had a side hustle during the day, and managed 3 to 4 flights a week. If you want it bad enough you will make it happen.
     
  11. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    this p!sses me off (and in classic PoA style is completely off topic), but is very typical of the times we live in. the paramedics, STATISTICALLY SPEAKING, were 100% justified in what they asked, and I'm confident in NO WAY was it meant in any offensive manner. it's not a bias, it's a statistically accurate quick assessment based on factual numbers. jeezus friggin christ, in a high stress situation like that where someone gets hurt, someone with knowledge helps out, paramedics show up and simply want to get a quick idea of what's going on, that question is in NO WAY biased or offensive. or shouldn't be, anyways. FK.

    upon doing a very quick google search, as of 2018 there were 2,116,796 female nurses (out of 2,438,923, you do the math percentage). although the actual number of female surgeons was harder to find*, I found that female 'general surgeons' totaled 5,157 (out of 19,865). once again, you do the math. it is not an insult to make that quick assumption, based on 2.1 MILLION to 5 thousand.

    if you choose to get offended, that's your problem. the conversation could have just as easily gone: "thanks for helping, are you a nurse?" "no, I'm a surgeon". "oh fantastic, thanks a lot for the help". but instead today it's "waahhh wahhhhh WWAHHHHH misogyny waahhh racist waahhh"

    *the one article I found that gave actual counts instead of just percentages had so many different areas of physicians, I didn't know what to pick, that's why I went with 'general', which actually had the highest percentage of women to men.

    /rant off, back to whisky and studying.
     
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  12. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Didn’t bother my mom in the least, she was used to it. I guess my college age daughter and her new world ways is starting to wear me down, lol!

    Which whisky?
     
  13. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Monkey Shoulder, my new favorite.
     
  14. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    And/or she realized that the most likely alternative was “get out of the way, we’re professionals.”

    I was taught something a few years back that has served me fairly well...the only words and reactions I can control are mine. If others choose to be ignorant, there’s nothing I can do to control that. Makes it easier to live with the shortcomings of others if I understand that it’s not my fault if they’re idiots. ;)
     
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  15. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    As a volunteer EMT who works with paramedics in an ALS system, we'd assume anyone on scene is a layman unless they identify otherwise, so we'd never try to guess their qualifications. Plenty of off duty medics, athletic trainers, veterinarians, etc., that could render first aid to make any assumptions that woman = nurse. Nevertheless, if we showed up and you identified as a doctor, unless you wanted to assume full patient care and ride to the hospital with us, we'd politely ask for you to step aside and so our crew could take over.
     
  16. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Yeah, she deferred right away to the experts and asked where the bathroom was so she could wash up. (She used her bare hands on an open head wound to stop the bleeding until someone fetched her a cloth to use as a compress...crazy lady, love her!).

    Didn’t mean to derail the topic.
     
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  17. midwestpa24

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    Getting back on topic about training while working, I did it, but almost fell backwards into it.

    Once upon another life I wanted to be a career pilot, still do actually. Circumstances and life got in the way after getting my private and starting my instrument. Years later as I began my alternative, although still aviation related, career, I flew occasionally for fun, giving friends rides, etc.

    One day the stars aligned and I started planning a long trip I had always wanted to do. I had a lot of reservations about taking that long of a trip without the instrument rating. Over the years I had most of the required hours, just needed to get up to speed, retake written, and get proficient to take the check ride. I was leaving in about 6 weeks, so I had a deadline. And I did it, flying weekends or evenings, flew about 10 hours with a CFII and knocked it out.

    Next was my commercial. Wasn't really something I had considered, but I had 250 hours. Another written, another 5-10 hours of training, boom checkride and commercial ticket. Used it a little flying sightseeing rides and the occasional ferry flight for FBO.

    My multi add-on was a total fluke, and didn't plan on it. Had a friend with a twin, wanted to trade some time in my airplane for time in his. 6 hours later, no written of course, checkride, boom. No long after I got offered some SIC work, but was pretty limited.

    I kind of drug my feet on the CFI. I passed the writtens early on, but got bogged down in the material and studying. Finally my writtens were set to expire soon, so with the deadline looming bucked down and got it done.

    Point of all this is, it can be done. My job at the time was 50-60 hours a week, plus I volunteer with the FD. Just have to work he flying in where you can. Find an instructor that can work with your schedule. Fortunately my instructor through all of this was a close friend, so a lot of lessons were I have some time let's go!
     
  18. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I did it through commercial, instrument and multi engine. But I don’t know how pertinent my experience will be to your yours. I worked and I flew. Flying was my life, no other ‘recreation’ during that period. I was single, money was covered, I didn’t have to spread it out waiting for the piggy bank to recharge.
     
  19. abreezy

    abreezy Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you all for the suggestions and insight! I really appreciate it. Fortunately my job does allow me a good amount of vacation time and some flexibility so I can usually work hours in at all times of the day. It’s just nice to hear from others who have taken a more non-traditional route to their ratings since most everyone I know took the college route.

    @455 Bravo Uniform no worries! Common mistake and I certainly took no offense.
     
  20. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have been working full time while training for years. It has been slow going. I’m in the final phase of commercial pilot training (part 141 / GI Bill) and have four lessons scheduled for this weekend. I lose at least one weekend a month due to the Reserves so I will need to negotiate with my collegiate program soon... commercial is a lot of hours. I will probably do CFI SE next.

    I have found evening flying during the week doesn’t really work for me, but your experience may differ.
     
  21. Ryan F.

    Ryan F. Cleared for Takeoff

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    I don't know if there's really a "traditional" route out there. I've seen it done every which way under the sun, from accelerated training programs to "piecemeal" ratings under Part 61 to the college programs you've mentioned. I've seen it done part-time, full-time but with a part-time job, I've seen individual ratings or certificates achieved while on sabbatical from the "day job," and on and on.

    There are a huge number of pro and con style variables to consider in terms of time and money, but if time is on your side (i.e. you're under 30, perhaps) the "cons" of moving a little more slowly down the path won't be quite as impactful.

    I'd suggest mini goals with "exit portals" built into them in case you decide this isn't for you. For example, any private pilot can, or should be able to justify an instrument rating. It will enhance your enjoyment and utility of flying, not to mention make you a safer and better pilot. Once you have that rating, use it for a few months, build up your hours if that's required, take a breather, and then knock out your commercial pilot certificate. This is also justifiable from a safety and proficiency perspective. Now, how much time has passed? Is the desire to continue still there? Now you could comfortably "stop" and enjoy your achievements if you prefer, and take the skills you've learned forward into a hobby-level enjoyment of aviation. There's a lot to be said for flying when you want, and where you want.

    I think the one word of caution I'd emphasize is that if a professional flying career is really what you're after, you will inevitably sacrifice a lot to get there. When you come from a reasonably successful former career into aviation and you've already gotten "comfortable" after having put a lot of work into that path, it's not always so easy to jump back into the trenches and deal with the schedule, quality of life and other issues that are always present when starting an aviation career. It can be a real grind and that portion of the journey seems to send more prospective professionals packing than any other. Make sure you're up for that, at some point down the road. There's really no way to predict just what kind of impact it'll have on your life, your family, and so on. But you can be sure that life will be nothing like what you're accustomed to. Those of us who finally settled into comfortable professional aviation careers can all point to years or decades of the kind of hard, often miserable work that not everyone is up for a second time around.

    If that doesn't deter you, you should feel very positive about continuing to move towards achieving your goals.
     
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  22. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    I think one thing that did help me, I never had to build time for the sake of building time. The required hours for each rating came naturally as I was flying, with the exception of some specific cross-countries for instrument and commercial. The specific training required for a rating was all I really needed each time, only amounting to less than 10 hours on any given rating.
     
  23. snglecoil

    snglecoil Pre-takeoff checklist

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    @abreezy over the past 18 months i have done just what you are thinking. Mid 40s, full-time corporate job, 3 kids (with sports 7 days/week). I started 18 months ago as a rusty, low-time, private pilot who hadn’t flown in 16 years. I just passed the CFI check ride on 11/13. I went all part 61, flying evenings and weekends and got instrument, commercial, and CFI done in that time.

    With my family situation, NONE of that would have been possible without my wife’s support (who also works full time) with the kid’s schedule and finances. She agreed to pick up my slack and I agreed to work my tail off. I’ll just say, it is a huge time and financial commitment. Make sure that you have the desire and finances to get it done and if so, go for it!
     
  24. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    nice, congrats!
     
  25. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I know a guy who bought a basket case Mooney, restored it, got his IFR and commercial in it, and then got out of his soul crushing cubicle job and is flying for a living. Yes, it can be done. Of course, his first job was flying a Skyhawk back and forth over a grid pattern 5 days a week. I'm certain it gets better.
     
  26. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 En-Route

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    I should have added that myself! Not only did my wife support my flying and training because she knew how much it meant to me, she was the foot up the you know what when I needed it. I would never have finished my CFI without her push.
     
  27. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    Speaking of nursing...
     
  28. Jdm

    Jdm Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You’ll manage. Most of us at my flight school had to deal with the same thing. I found it to be much more demanding once I received my CFI. Trying to keep up a real job while dedicating time to my students was a tough juggle. It became even more demanding working towards the advanced CFI ratings while also keeping a few primary students going.
     
  29. Oldmanb777

    Oldmanb777 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Extremely long hours. I could not have done it without the wife keeping the home fire burning. 2 kids, finished my degree, Department manager at a big airline. Fight instructed, and maintained several client airplanes, and ferried those from time to time. Took a major layoff for a couple years to fly for less than minimum wage to get commuter time. Yes family suffered ,life suffered, and all that. Some made it, I did, some didn't. Worth it, well maybe. Not sure, but I think so. I also had a bit of luck on my side. Wife stayed with me. Guess that was a big one. No expensive divorce. So it worked, but for many years we should have qualified for food stamps, even after getting that "airline" job.
    Play the numbers. Could you stick it out where you are, and live within your means, so you can invest properly and retire early to your retirement home on an airstrip? Could that be a more promising goal, and attained sooner. Or would you like to be flying all night on reserve over the pond wondering if your furlough notice is in you mail box, all while living on back side of the clock. Dinner at breakfast time and breakfast at dinner time. Christmas in some fleabag hotel between the elevator and the ice machine. Ever been to Sao Paulo on Christmas ? It's great. Just don't expect to get any food or anything else from morning on Christmas eve morning, until the day after Christmas. I broke into the hotel kitchen to feed my crew on one of those. The hotel wasn't too happy about that. How many Sundays and Holidays do you want to enjoy the family. You will be someplace else on most of those. So would you prefer to retire early and live your life, or...........................
     
  30. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    You'll get there. It took me 1 1/2 years to get my instrument and commercial and now I'm working towards my CFI. My plan is to really dig in after the first of the year and hope I'm done before corn planting in April.
     
  31. luv2pilot

    luv2pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    I did this myself, it takes some sacrifice but is very possible. I went from PPL to IFR Commercial Single with a multi commercial check ride coming up in the next couple of weeks with a BS in aviation as a professional pilot. It has taken many days away from family and events in the last two years but worth chasing the dream. Advice would be to have everyone in your network of family and friends be on the same page as you. I have 50-60 hour a week job as an operations supervisor and can tell you it was difficult at times but worth every minute. I set my schedule to 3 flights a week Saturday after work and Sunday and Monday's. With the multi training I fly Sunday's and two lessons on Mondays. It can be done just make sure to stay on track to limit repeat lessons will save you some cash in the long run as well. (side note I did it part 141 with a degree for the R-ATP benefits)
     
  32. JoeCFI

    JoeCFI Filing Flight Plan

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    Others have said much the same thing, but I will add my few notes to the chorus: started flying when I was 42. Worked as a software developer (then development manager), mostly at start ups where the work week was often 50-70 hrs/wk. Wife, two kids, that whole thing too. Stuck with it, got my initial CFI 10 years later (kids were older by then. one off to college, so didn't require as much of my attention), then went on to get CFII, multi-engine rating, then MEI and finally multi-engine ATP. It is definitely not easy, lots and lots of long days and weekends, but it is definitely feasible. A goodly amount of focused single-mindedness helps too. :)