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I'm 44 and I just started my private pilot journey, however I would like to see if is worth it to get the commercial and maybe fly for profit, I wonder how is the market for commercial airlines or maybe I would have better chances at smaller airliners or individual operations. I think CFI is one option

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    $\begingroup$ Try anyway. Make them tell you no. $\endgroup$ Jan 23 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ The shortage of crews is real. Get an instructor rating and do that a few years, or go fly in the bush. If you present yourself to a regional with 1500 hrs at age 50 or even 55, not a problem. The problem is being able to live on the low pay. If you're financially independent, go for it. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Jan 23 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ Will anybody hire you for bush flying with less than 1500 hours? $\endgroup$ Jan 24 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ Consider carefully how long it will take to become and remain a competent CFI. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Jan 24 at 9:30

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There are a lot of careers in aviation where you can fly an airplane and not be at an airline. Airlines have an age restriction, these options do not.

  • Fly charter under Part 135. Always get to fly to different places and fly some pretty sophisticated jets. Some of the work is quite rewarding as you are transporting patients or transplant organs to help those in need.

  • Fly for a corporate flight department under Part 91. Can fly to some unique locations and fly the same jets as charter companies do. Quite a bit less regulations to follow under Part 91 vs Part 135.

  • Become a highly sought after CFI with specific specializations for an aircraft or avionics package, etc. in your area and make great money.

  • Become an examiner and ensure the next generation will operate the aircraft safetly and legally.

  • Work for the FAA and help ensure these companies are operating safely.

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    $\begingroup$ In what role do FAA agents fly aircraft? $\endgroup$
    – Bergi
    Jan 24 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Bergi The two I'm most familiar with are R&D and Flight Check. You could ask a new question to get more. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Jan 24 at 21:50
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At 44 and just started PPL your chance to go for Airline Pilot is very slim. You competitors are either 20 years younger or have 20 years worth of flight time plus Type Ratings under their belts. The reasons airlines prefer younger candidates are they are usually in a better health, they can work longer before retirement and they can offer lower salary to the youngs.

However besides Airline you can do other jobs with Commercial Pilot License. Banner towing and parachute planes come to my mind. If your area has nice scenery being a pilot for scenery tour is always an option.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would assume it varies by location, but at least here in the U.S., don't most airlines have set pay schedules for X rank (FO/Captain) flying Y aircraft with Z years? So, the "can offer lower salary to the youngs" wouldn't be true in that case. Of course, it also means you'd be offered the same lower salary that other entry-level airline pilots are making. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jan 24 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab pay scales often also take age and/or prior experience in other professions under account. As do the number of paid days off (which effectively does the same thing). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jan 27 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting Are you referring to the U.S.? Or elsewhere? I have not seen any age-based pay scales here (though, of course, ones based on years of experience are normal.) Also, what this answer suggests that companies would do - refusing to hire an older employee due to their age - is specifically illegal in the U.S. under federal labor anti-discrimination laws. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jan 27 at 18:37
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It's technically never too late to start a commercial career, I know people who quit and became instructors in their 40s, one in his 50s, and were happy they did it. One branched out and started flying charter and tour flights, another became an examiner, however none of them had any designs on flying for an airline. It's not impossible but it's pretty unlikely given the late start.

None of those jobs pay well. All of the people I know who went this way had paid off their mortgages and had some financial security, so they could afford to work for peanuts and go commercial for the love of it.

One alternative would be part time instructing, there are some very good instructors out there who have day jobs.

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  • $\begingroup$ The people you refere to as becoming instructors: did they start ppl at ~40 and went straight to instructing? $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Jan 24 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ All started as private pilots @Jpe61. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jan 24 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yeppp, but the question is when. Time and experience are of essence when instructing others. I'd prefer not to be instructed by a person who's still wet behind the ears. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Jan 24 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Start at forty, fly intensively and build up experience, you'll be a good instructor by fifty. Thing is you'll be competing younger instructors with similar experience, or instructors of similar age but thrice if not even more experience. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Jan 24 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ When it comes to instructing age isn't really that big a factor, you'll get paid the same. Most younger instructors are building up hours until they get their ATPL, so there's a lot of churn at flight schools, many would be happy to have a good instructor who is likely to stick around. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Jan 24 at 13:31

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