Career Changes/Shifts

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by SoonerAviator, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    While pondering some potential career moves, I figure I'd throw this question out for the gallery just out of curiosity:

    How may of you have changed careers or had a shift in the type of work you started out doing? I know there are a few here who have made the jump from a desk job of some sort to professional pilot. I'm sure there will be some interesting backstories as to how that career change took shape, or even just to see some of the more drastic career changes.
     
  2. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    I haven't but I'd love to. I've had the same job at my dad's company since 1992. I just hate it.
     
  3. charheep

    charheep Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I am about 5 years away from being in a place where I can change careers. I will still need some kind of paycheck, but I want something with set hours and basically not being on call 24/7. I havent decided what, but it wont be IT.

    I think there are some professional pilot boards (pprune?) that might be a better place to ask.
     
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  4. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    How big a change? I’ve held a bejillion technical and tech Management titles, and various specialties... but all tech since 1992.

    Prior to that various jobs in wildly different industries including airline rampie and busboy/dishwasher. LOL.
     
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  5. jordane93

    jordane93 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    @LDJones

    I’ve flown with lots of career changers from teachers, to police officers to IT. The vast majority of them said they are way happier doing the airline thing. The grass is not always greener. There are also plenty of people that get out of professional aviation because it’s not for them.
     
  6. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Just to be clear, this isn't about changing careers to be a pilot. It's just a discussion about career changes in general. I have no plans on becoming a career pilot until much later when the kids are grown and me being away from home is easier. It's hard enough being out of town for a week per month as it is, lol. I just thought it would be interesting to hear about those who have decided to move from one career to something markedly different, and what the drivers of those decisions might have been.
     
  7. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sometimes the answer is to change careers, and sometimes it's to change companies.

    I've had the same "career" for a handful of different places. It helped keep things fresh. I wanted to start over with a complete career change, and I might do that soon enough anyway...we'll see what happens.
     
  8. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I’m a free agent NFL quarterback, but with no phone calls in 32 years, I’m thinking of switching to plan B. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
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  9. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I shifted gears from being a software developer to a full time pilot in my mid 20s, but that was always the plan. There wasn't anything about my desk job that forced the change. It was a means to an end - paying for both college and the ratings through CFI. Took more than a 50% pay cut to make the switch, but that's a lot easier to stomach when it's just you and there's no debt to speak of.
     
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  10. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Frogging Elway will probably call you. LOL.
     
  11. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Left aviation for law enforcement then went back to aviation.

    because why not. It was interesting.
     
  12. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I've been in a few different industries, but I have always stayed in accounting. Sometimes mundane GL/Asset accounting, but most of my time has been in cost/manufacturing accounting environments. Probably looking to shake it up a bit in the coming year, as burnout and general need to expand my skillset has started to become a concern. I've considered doing financial analyst work, but it's not much of a shift and tends to be a bit more susceptible to market swings than accounting. In my experience, if the industry starts contracting and companies need cost savings, analysts and marketing seem to get hit in the second wave of cuts after the hourly workforce cuts are made. Accounting/Controllers are generally pretty safe unless entire facilities are mothballed. The volume of accounting work doesn't typically decrease (and often increases) even when sales/volumes decrease.

    If it were a decade down the road and the kids were in high school, I might look at a full-on career change to become a corporate pilot. I don't think I could do the airline gig, but that's where a lot of the money is if you get enough tenure. I'd have to build up a considerable amount of savings in order to weather the enormous cut in pay I'd have to take while working initial commercial pilot jobs to build time. Starting my own business would probably be less risky and more profitable than a career change to piloting, lol.

    Recently had a colleague who had been a controller for a few years decide to start her own home appraisal business recently. She got pitched the idea from a family friend who is a wealthy contractor for homes in the area, but I'm not sure how much (if any) income was traded for schedule flexibility for family desires. It being her own business, she may be able to work the taxes enough to offset any income drop she had from the controller position.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
  13. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    What keeps you there? Potential for inheriting the company?
     
  14. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Engineer (Ya, ya, no fun at parties, and can't spell) :p
    Career changes? I've had a few.

    43rd year (on and off) in the aaawl bid-ness (or natural resource variations thereof)
    Started as a summer student on oil service rigs
    Gas plant operations engineer
    Facilities construction and project management
    Joint venture engineer (learned a ton about negotiations and commercial contracts)
    Field operations superintendent in sour gas processing and then black oil production (learned a ton about how head office pizzes away the money the field ops makes).
    Asset manager (learned a ton about direct P&L responsibility and capital investment efficiency)
    VP Operations & Engineering for an independent upstream E&P company (learned a ton about why I hate supervising professional employees).
    Managing Director Middle East & North Africa for one of the largest global "blue water" LPG & gas liquids transport (VLGCs) & trading companies (commercial supply negotiations with national oil companies, such as Aramco, Adnoc, QP, etc)
    Post 9/11 and Gulf War II, Co-founder & CEO of a private partnership in the Middle East that conceived and then developed a gas derivatives manufacturing project in collaboration with the Egyptian State-owned Natural Gas Company (pulled together everything I'd learned in all my previous jobs)
    After completing the successful sale of the company just before the 2008 financial crisis, tried "retirement" for the first time and spent 3 years building (me, one helper and a pickup truck full of tools) Mrs. GRG55's dream home in the boondocks so "we" can live happily ever after with her horses (oh joy :rolleyes: )
    Called out of retirement (which is a highly overrated status btw) to do a turnaround on a troubled gold mining project in Central Asia. Fired the CEO and the Country Manager. Got the mine back on track, finished and cashflowing. Retired again.
    Called out of retirement to do a turnaround on a troubled CNG fuel company owned by a college classmate of mine, which we fixed and then sold. Tried the retirement thing one more time...it didn't last.
    Came out of retirement to co-found a private partnership that provides specialty CNG and LNG services, mostly to the natural gas transmission and distribution pipeline utilities in the USA and Canada. Enjoying the fact most of my travel involves only +/- one hour time zone changes now. Not enjoying the fact it's a 7 day a week job and seriously cutting into flying time. :( And still broke because of aviation + horses...the deadly combination.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
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  15. OkieFlyer

    OkieFlyer En-Route

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    Wow! Impressive resume, sir.

    I started as a pumper in the aaawl patch. One year later, moved into CO2 rejection plant operations. A few years later, took on the safety coordinator role for all of our Oklahoma offices in addition to my shift operator duties. 7 years later moved into cryo plant operations. 6 years later, still a friggin' operator. Not seeing much of a way forward from here. Should have been a dang engineer. They are the only ones that get to move beyond lower management in the patch these days. I've been thinking a little like @SoonerAviator lately. Thinking hard about going into some kind of real estate business. The OKC burbs are throwing up houses like crazy. Got some good friends making serious "retire at 40" money right now.
     
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  16. A&H661

    A&H661 Filing Flight Plan

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    Fun question to think about...

    For me, I spent my first 7 years after high school working my way through the fire service. Started on a handcrew, engines, helitack, then was picked up full time with a local department. Was forced out of that line of work, which was an incredibly difficult time since I had much of my identity wrapped up in my career. I can empathize with any pilot who loses their medical and the impact it has on their own sense of identity.

    It was also one of the most valuable lessons for me about managing career change….#1 have an exit strategy for the unexpected.

    It forced me back to school and finished my Bachelors, although I don't think college is nearly as critical now a days...I'm a huge advocate for vocational trades....#2 have skills.

    At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I applied for an operations position with a large oil company...#3 use your network for opportunities, especially ones you may not have considered.

    I quickly promoted into the Health, Environmental, & Safety Department when I figured out I could use my time in public safety to help support the company's safety programs...#4 connect the dots of skills from your previous jobs and experience to current roles.

    The company continued to provide opportunities to develop, but at the same time I have ask myself if I'm happy and feel secure. The oil and gas industry has always been cyclical, but it's become way more volatile. For the 7 years I've been with the company, I've been through 4 reorganizations. Therefore, I started picking up consulting work on the side in a totally different industry, under a company I created...see #1 through #4.

    The thought is to have that exit strategy "at-the-ready" if I'm forced out, or better yet, can make a decision to take a severance package to go into something else if conditions at work cause my passion to fade.
     
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  17. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Well, on the bright side, at least you learned something from each stint so you have that going for ya! In my dealings with GCC countries, contracts/negotiations is an outright PITA.
     
  18. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Yeah, I've given serious thought to moving into the operations-side of manufacturing at some point, but that comes with it's own set of headaches just like anything else. I'm naturally analytical and enjoy identifying problems and the solutions to those problems, but I generally get tired of pushing the same reports out monthly for years.
     
  19. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    I looked at that path a long time ago, and believed it to be my path, destiny, opportunity, obligation? A whole bunch of different emotions mixed into that. My granddad started a power line construction company, and it continued to grow as my dad and uncles stepped in. Being the oldest grandson in a patriarchal family structure, it was expected, I guess, that I would do the same. As a kid in high school, it was a pretty big deal to run heavy equipment and do a man's job.
    I joined the Navy and became an Avionics Tech and Air Intercept Controller - did that for 10 years and still continued to come home and work powerline while on leave.

    After getting out of the Navy, I did come back and pick up lineman again, but a few months into an ugly South Dakota winter (or, "just a little chilly and blustery", as my Minnesota native granddad would say), I did some soul searching and decided I wasn't going to enjoy spending the rest of my working career dealing with -30 and wind in the winter and +100 in the summer, even though the work was rewarding and satisfying. So, family meeting with Dad and Granddad and got their blessings to go "try something new".

    I rang up some old Navy contacts and got a job testing the software I ran in the Navy, went back to school for a couple of degrees and ended up leading a large Oracle database project. I've been doing that same type of work for the last 30 years, 20 of which I was an independent consultant. While the projects have covered soup to nuts, from Air Launched Weapons QA, Corporate Financials, Nuclear Waste Management, VA Health Records, Army Logistics, Genetic Expression Medical Systems to GIS mapping, the common core has been Oracle software. While never boring, these have all lacked the job satisfaction I got from physically building power line. Every day, some jack wagon is coming up with new and innovative ways to break my stuff!

    One of these days I need to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
     
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  20. Craig

    Craig Line Up and Wait

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    Started out as a broadcast maintenance and operations engineer. Moved over to doing long haul multiplexed microwave systems design and installation for a while. Went back to school and worked on an Aerospace Eng. degree with a specialization in hypersonic testing, until I hit the brick wall of differential equations. Managed to land on my feet doing heavy structure assemble for the F-16 program. That morphed into doing flight test instrumentation engineering for a bunch of years. Layoffs in the group put me back into production for a few years and then on the street. Did some medical feeding equipment design and prototyping, CT/MRI/CATscan power tube design, process wastewater equipment design, build and operation as well as refinery equipment reliability work. Been back in aircraft production and flight line maintenance for the last 17 years. Working to set up a full CNC shop for antique/orphaned aircraft restoration parts fabrication to fill my time when I retire in a few years.

    If I had enough years left, I'd go back and get a Pharmacology degree and go be an overnight pharmacist for some rural hospital.
     
  21. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    Mostly family expectations and money. My dad retired a few years ago and basically handed me the keys. Since he was sole owner, I felt I couldn't just walk away and leave him hanging. Since then he's given me 50% ownership which makes me even more stuck.

    I'm working now to get my commercial and CFI to build time so someday I can sell my half of the business and possibly fly for a living.
     
  22. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    455 Bravo Uniform
    I wanna work for you...cool stuff!!
     
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  23. A&H661

    A&H661 Filing Flight Plan

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    You raise a good point though about your self awareness for tendencies and the work you may gravitate towards. Some folks find comfort in the transactional and predictable nature of recurring reports. Anywhere you can match passion to need is usually the sweet spot.
     
  24. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

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    I worked as a salesman for my dad’s company for 16 years. Last October I quit to finish up my training. I got my commercial sel Dec 31, and am signed up for a CFI academy in February. Goal is to be CFI by March and in 1.5-2 yrs fly regional airlines.

    i stayed at my dad’s company for too long because it was easy money. When family relations deteriorated I decided I needed to leave.
     
  25. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Forced career change when I retired from the military in 2016; went from taking care of people and leading organizations to being an individual contributor.

    Occupationally, I left air/ground operations and moved into an HR function...talent development...in a financial services company.

    Most of my USAF career I was an instructor, evaluator, or responsible for some segment of training and evaluation. That knowledge and those skills are what made me competitive in my career change.

    I’ve just transitioned from supporting investment management clients to banking clients, so I am getting to learn a whole new segment of the industry.

    I could probably find a way to do this work for the next 20 years or so, but will probably find a way facilitate/instruct in the next few years as I miss the teaching part of training.
     
  26. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Line Up and Wait

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    Been a cop for 7.5 years and just got my single and multi commercial last year. Hoping to get scheduled for CFI in February. The biggest problem would be the paycut from cop to brand new CFI.
     
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  27. X3 Skier

    X3 Skier En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Stayed with the same outfit, USAF Development Command, for 32.5 years as an Engineer and was fortunate/lucky/good enough, pick a reason, to reach the top rank available. About halfway thru, I got screwed out of a promotion by some brown nosed colleague and investigated private industry. I had a few good offers but decided I liked what I was doing and if I had topped our where I was, it was ok. So I hung around. If it got boring or not worth it, I had those offers to fall back on so I felt I had a safety cushion and started being more aggressive and looking for bigger fish in the USAF.

    Later the colleague stepped on his tie in a major way and I passed him like the Road Runner leaving Wye Lee Coyote in the dust until there were no more promotions left.

    After retiring, I started freelance consulting telling the likes of Boeing, Northrop, GE and others the same stuff I used to tell them for free but now they paid big bucks to hear.

    If you like what your doing and the pay, etc is enough to make you happy, look around occasionally and see what is out there. You’ll likely find out life ain’t so bad where you are but if that changes, your alternatives will allow you to move on.

    Cheers
     
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  28. Caba

    Caba Filing Flight Plan

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    Bank clerk turned air traffic controller....best move I´ve ever made. Part-time flight instructor starting next month. Life´s good.
     
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  29. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Oh yes, I know all about that. It's very much got that "hurry up and wait" attitude. You learn to drink a lot of tea sitting in GCC 5 star hotel lobbies waiting for meetings. I think I crammed at least a couple of hours of work into an 8 hour day. Once. ;)
     
  30. Pascal Forget

    Pascal Forget Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm in the same boat.
     
  31. charheep

    charheep Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I wouldnt say no to a paid flying job, but I know me. I am not the CFI type. I would not be a good teacher and not doing students any benefit.
     
  32. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

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    Pro tip: boat hours don’t count...unless it has wings
     
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  33. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'd say my career has evolved along a not-uncommon path. It's all been aviation but started out in piston engines, moved to turbine engines, and now avionics. What's evolved more than anything is how I thought about what I did. Originally my goal was engines (and specifically automotive/truck engines). I ended up in piston aircraft engines.

    When it came to decide what to do following piston aircraft engines I was originally sticking with engines, but hadn't really considered turbine engines. Then I got a phone call from a turbine engine manufacturer, and ended up working there for a few years.

    I hadn't considered avionics as a career shift, either, but when I got the phone call asking if I was interested, I said "Definitely!" and here I am.

    So, it's not been what I expected, and it's not been what I even thought it was when I started down the path, but it hasn't really changed. My flying, while one could argue is a career as well, only paid me for a brief period of time when I was contract/135 flying for a year. While I have considered making that jump, it hasn't happened. And while I've also been a Jaguar mechanic, truck driver, and other assorted things, none of those were ever really what I would consider part of a career but rather what made me money in college.
     
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