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How to Succeed as a Pilot

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How to Maximize Career Growth and Individual Potential in Private Air Travel

Take it from a professional jet pilot: the road less traveled yields tremendous value in your own life and enhances the quality of your experience when compared to that of the road most traveled.

Career options for young professional pilots abound in 2023. A stifling industry shortage of flight crew is forecasted to last well into the next 10 years. Aviation companies hurting for qualified talent to fill the two seats in front of the aircraft has been a boon for today’s job seekers.

For most of us in this challenging yet rewarding career, we have seen aviators take many different paths forward. Once a pilot accumulates enough flight experience, the doorways open to myriad passenger- and cargo-carrying operations. A budding pilot might ask herself: “Which door is right for me?”

Here are some thoughts worth considering as you determine the next step forward:

Job Security in a Volatile Industry

It’s no secret that every professional pilot worries about a potential layoff, furlough, or bankruptcy. While industry demand is currently healthy and profit margins are wide, not all companies in on-demand air travel are conducive to career growth for pilots.

A few of the largest private air travel firms in the United States have recently found themselves in hot water, putting their clients’ needs and their employees’ livelihoods at undue risk. A corporate cash infusion, effectively functioning like a bailout, has since saved one of these operators from going under.

Other firms who followed a similar trajectory of rapid expansion and unprofitable route structures have not been so fortunate. When you’re looking to move forward as a professional pilot, be wary of jumping aboard a company that metaphorically flies by the seat of its pants in its business practices.

Professional Development

The most exciting firms in aviation allow and encourage employees to find ways to grow as professionals. Not every pilot wants to learn the finer points about implementing a company SMS (Safety Management System) or work a few days out of the month in the sales office. Most companies that promote professional development understand that pilots prioritize their job on the flight deck.

With large on-demand air travel firms, however, these valuable growth opportunities don’t exist. Many pilots at smaller firms seize the chance to gain industry experience by helping in the chief pilot’s office, writing manuals, working in marketing, becoming company instructors, or even assisting the dispatch office.

As a professional pilot, the priority to master your craft is paramount. But you should also seize opportunities to grow in all facets of the industry. You won’t regret it.

The Road Less Traveled

Being a professional pilot is a rare thing; it takes years of dedicated learning and applied experience to get here. You might be looking at a narrow doorway that leads into the flight deck of a private jet, and that door truly leads to the road less traveled.

As a private jet pilot, your skillset will expand at triple the rate it would anywhere else. You’ll also gain enough experience and memories to last a lifetime at the controls of these machines. Finally, more responsibility will rest on your shoulders, and you will be a better pilot and a stronger, more confident individual as a result.

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