Airline Pilot to Plumber

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by austin757, Mar 3, 2021.

  1. austin757

    austin757 Pre-Flight

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    I know we have quite a few pilots who are in the trades and do very well. I am working as an airline pilot and am thinking I want to become a licensed plumber. I'm researching various options to become qualified. I do not think I want to leave the airline pilot career though. Would it be possible to pull this off while still flying at the airline?

    I have a neighbor who is a commercial plumber and am thinking about asking him for advice and to possibly let me shadow him and his operation to see if I'd like it. Ideally, I'd like my own plumbing company one day, or to be a partner in one. Any advice for pulling this off? I'm 26 if age matters in this scenario.

    Thank you for the advice
     
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  2. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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  3. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Just saw you are 26. Perhaps you are not with a major carrier?
    If not, things do get better once beyond right seat at a regional. Not completely sure of your situation.
     
  4. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    My FIL was a licensed electrician both union and as his own business. I think what you will find js the amount of time away from flying will impact either career choice unless you are already licensed as a plumber or are eligible to buy another plumber’s business.
     
  5. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    Pick one and do it...
     
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  6. austin757

    austin757 Pre-Flight

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    I am a regional CA that was supposed to be at major by now but COVID has slowed that process down. Reasons to do it include intellectual curiosity, alternative income stream, and mainly because I like that type of work. Part of me thinks I should have done it when I was 18, but I caught the flying bug early. Still love the plane
     
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  7. austin757

    austin757 Pre-Flight

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    Yeah, the more research I do tells me that it’s not like a short course that you can do on the fly. It seems it would be hard flying while getting the hours done in plumbing.
     
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  8. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Plumbing is easy

    - hot on the left, cold on the right
    - **** flows downhill
    - dont chew your fingernails
    - payday is friday.




    Cursory read of the application to become a master plumber suggests that NJ only accepts a formal DOL approved apprenticeship or a college degree in plumbology. So just gathering your hours as a helper may not work.
     
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  9. Fracpilot

    Fracpilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I can’t tell you that plumbers in Houston can name their own price after all of the busted pipes we had from the snowmaggedon that hit us a couple weeks ago.

    Plumbers are still backed up and will be for another month. Neighbors are still living with other neighbors because they don’t have water. All of this happened because ERCOT shut off power to millions of homes.

    The pipes where being heated by the heated temps in the house. Most of the pipes were in their attics.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    Perhaps a trade that is not so heavily regulated. Auto mechanic? Anything to do with boats. It is always a good idea to have a plan ‘B’.
     
  11. Country Flier

    Country Flier Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a forensic pathologist, and I'm paid quite well, but I also own/run a construction company. Multiple sources of income are one key to wealth. Plus, I don't watch tv, and basically have too much time on my hands, so why not. My SO's brother is in a skilled trade (electrician), and does very well for himself.
     
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  12. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'd tend to agree that it's best to pick one vs. the other if you want to be serious about it. If you're simply curious, try to follow along and apprentice some to learn.

    Pros of any trade:

    - If you have your own business, you can somewhat make your schedule
    - It's a necessary service, so there will always be a need be it new construction or fixing existing homes/businesses
    - Seems like the pay isn't bad, either (judging from the checks I write)

    Cons of any trade:

    - If you don't have your own business, you'll be making someone else more money and they get to tell you when to work
    - If you do have your own business, you have to run a business
    - It's a necessary service, so you'll be busiest when it's frigid and pipes burst
    - Your customers will complain they're paying you too much

    I love travel. But the older I get, the happier I am having a day job that doesn't require much of it and getting to choose the kind of travel that I do.
     
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  13. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Real estate. I think an airline pilot should deal in real estate. Something that doesn't take much day to day time, but lots and lots of let it sit time. One of my retired airliner pals is quite wealthy from the real estate investments he made along the way.

     
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  14. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    The first thing I'd do (in your situation) is check into trade schools. Many states have 1-3 year schools for skilled trades. That will qualify you to be a journeyman plumber and get some work experience. I'm not sure how you'd schedule school vs. flying because I'm not familiar with school schedules.

    Then you have to learn to run a business. Whole 'nother can-o-worms.

    My Dad was an electrician most of his adult life. He started his own business when I was a junior in high school. (1976ish) He got laid off and started his own business. He already had a Master Electrician License (required to be in business as an electrician here in Florida) and many of the tools. For the first couple of years he did pretty much anything folks would pay him for: carpentry, plumbing, electrical. He built a lovely wooden fence for some folks in a ritzy part of town. Etc., etc. After a couple of years he was getting enough electrical work to only do that. He was fond of saying "They say you work for yourself, but actually you work for your suppliers and employees." Many years he had undeposited paychecks (of his) in his dresser drawer because the company couldn't cover them. That said, he worked until he wanted to retire (~70) and sold his big tools to another contractor he knew. That friend would still pull permits for Dad if he had a small job someone pressured him to do. He never got rich and the "setting your own hours" thing was only partially true. Often you work when there's work. You can take off when there's not-except you'd better be doing bids, etc. to have more work later...

    And new construction (and to some extent maintenance) are cyclical and subject to the general economy.

    That may be more than you wanted to know...

    John
     
  15. KSCessnaDriver

    KSCessnaDriver Pattern Altitude

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    Exactly, it's easy to hear someone say "it'll get better at a major", but there's never any 100% shot at getting on with a major...
     
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  16. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I looked at going into that while I was looking at various colleges before graduating from high school. In some ways, I still wish I would’ve pursued it. I dunno, I’m a basket case, there’s a lot of fields that I’d like to dabble in. :)

    I’d agree that having multiple income streams is the key. My goal is to buy a small rental property in a few years and have that as an added income source.

    I would also say that plumbing is a solid trade with good income potential. The issue is that there’s a lot of competition for those kind of trades, same goes for electricians and contractors etc. Personally, I think if you do decide to go into plumbing, I’d focus on starting a business and being in the ownership position, rather than just an employee.
     
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  17. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    You're a pilot and you think being a plumber will be intellectually stimulating? Okay then.....
     
  18. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    Can't OP just hang up a shingle and call himself a plumber? Slap an ad on a bus bench or nextdoor or facebook? Then schedule housecalls for when he's not up flying? He can learn "plumbology" (lol) on the homeowner dime as he goes. Seems to be what the plumbers and other home servicemen (HVAC, electricians... sigh) I've hired of late are doing anyway.
     
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  19. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Gettin qualified is easy. Only three things ya gotta now. Sheet don’t flow uphill, don’t bite your fingernails, payday is Friday
     
  20. austin757

    austin757 Pre-Flight

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    I'm one of those people who get bored easily and need to try new things. I need multiple projects to manage and ventures to pursue. I feel if I get stagnant, I will wither away.
     
  21. austin757

    austin757 Pre-Flight

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    Lol. Yeah just wing it as I go along. Have YouTube ready to go just in case I need a reliable source.
     
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  22. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    I understand. You’re not the only one. Find something on the side. You’re not in a terrible spot on the left side of a regional.

    Trades that require licensing might not be the best idea. You will likely determine full time commitment is required to get licensed.

    If you decide you really want to commit to an apprenticeship path on the side I would recommend getting your A&P.
     
  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    Which reminds us that most people have no idea how to drain the water out of their plumbing to save it in a situation like that. Perhaps, in a state like Texas, it's never been within experience and so people don't think about it.
     
  24. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    One night a medical doctor had a pipe spring a leak in his house. He called a plumber, who came over and fixed the thing, and handed the doctor the bill.

    The doctor shouts, "I'm a doctor and don't make that kind of money!"

    The plumber replies, "I didn't either, when I was a doctor."
     
  25. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yes and the systems are not designed to be drained.
     
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  26. BrianNC

    BrianNC En-Route

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    What do you mean? Here in GA back in the day when my dad, brother and I bid on and fixed up VA/FHA repos, after we fixed them up they would come in cut off the water and drain the water system and pour some kind of anti-freeze into the toilet and down the drains to keep it from freezing in winter. It's a simple matter to cut off your water and drain the system to keep it from freezing.
     
  27. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's the kind of stuff you can get away with in some states. In NJ the 'board of plumbing SWAT team' would raid your business at dawn, shoot your dog and take you to plumbing jail. They take their monopoly seriously (same in NY).

    In some states, you can do a lot of trade work under another masters license. You only need to be a master to sign off on plans and to do final inspections, most of the actual labor can be done by someone unlicensed. Someone may have his master plumber credential and gets paid by several independents to sign off on their work. If something goes wrong, his license is on the line, so there is some incentive to supervise the unlicensed subs he works with (also has the benefit that you are never the one standing up to your ankles in goo in some ditch, you just look at the level one of the minions puts on the main drain).

    One trade that seems a good gig is 'sprinkler fitter'. It's like plumbing, except you are not dealing with wastewater. Anywhere you have lots of office buildings and institutional real estate, sprinkler fitters make good money on construction, maintenance and alterations. Every time an office suite gets remodeled, the sprinkler fitter has to come in to relocate sprinkler heads and to sign off on the final install.
     
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  28. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Also keep in mind that you would generally be busiest in the worst of environmental conditions. Texas/Oklahoma freeze recently? Great, you get to work on cold/frozen pipes out in the freezing weather. New construction? Well, this house is nothing but a dirt pad or a bunch of sticks nailed together, no HVAC to keep it comfortable. Have fun measuring/cutting pipe runs when it's 100+degrees out or in the cold/wind. Same goes for HVAC guys . . . they get busy when the weather is the worst.
     
  29. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A couple of years ago, I had to hire a plumber to fix a construction mistake (violation of plumbing law #2). He showed up with a 100ft endoscope, inspected the system and found the problem. Interestingly, the diagnostic bill came out to be about the same as for a colonoscopy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
  30. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Would still be exposed to the cyclic nature of the aviation trade. You want something that is not subject to the same boom&bust cycle, you want to be in something that has either a static demand or is at least on a different boom&bust cycle.
     
  31. Tarheelpilot

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    For me it was diversifying my pilot skill set. I’m still on the hook for a medical but when the economy is swirling I still have a job.

    It really comes down to what the OP wants. We are all special.
     
  32. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I central Florida where we’ve had perhaps 5-6 freezes serious enough to concern pipes in my lifetime (60+ years)
    , there is no “lowest point” drain. There can be multiple parts of the pipe that are lower than any of the outlets. Not really a big deal here so far. Likewise in Houston. Similar climate.
     
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  33. ChemGuy

    ChemGuy Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would'nt do plumbing as a side gig...loots of hassle and licensing issues as suggested above. Electrical can be a little, or a lot, less messy. but again most places have licensing requirements.

    I used to do floor coatings installs on the weekend side gig while working my 9-5 day job. Minimal tool outlay costs, very little in the way of licensing, insurance, etc. Something like this or general handyman that can do some plumbing, electrical, carpentry, etc. Lots of people cant install a sink, change a light switch, hang a door, etc. Doing something like that on your off days can make some extra coin. Most places I've lived dont require any licensing for that type of stuff.

    Good luck.
     
  34. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    Being a plumber and owning a plumbing business are two totally different skill sets. Many fall in to the trap that just because they are good at a trade they will be good at running business doing that trade and make less than if they just got a job doing that trade and simply now just own that job with no extra freedom and a ton more responsibly and stress.

    Don't fall into that trap.
     
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  35. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    I'm just visualizing an overweight pilot (I'm sure you're not) bending over during preflight, flashing butt crack as he pounds the tires with a pipe wrench.
     
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  36. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Did you feel the same in the end.??
     
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  37. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    I think I see what you did there...
     
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  38. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member

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    This visual seems to reinforce the A&P cert recommendation :D
     
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  39. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

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    As much as I love flying, doing it as a job every day would not be intellectually stimulating for me. Working as an A&P would be OK, but plumbers and electricians are probably paid better.
     
  40. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    In my narrow experience as an airline pilot, it’s really not intellectually stimulating. 99% of flights are the same routine. It’s the 1% of flights that makes things interesting and actually make me think.:D