Military Pilot vs Civilian Pilot: Career Facts

The traditional wisdom in the job market is that a military pilot trains in the military and switches to a civilian job on the basis of getting more pay. That’s not necessarily the case. The nature of the employment market in both fields is often the reason for the intermix of military and civilian roles in a pilot’s career.

Pilot Motivation

Pay isn’t the only issue which affects these career moves. The 2 types of flying are very different, and motivations for career choices can be equally different. Military pilots may fly a wide variety of planes during their careers, involving types of flying which are poles apart in quite dissimilar environments, on operations. Civilian pilots tend to fly classes of plane in different roles.

The actual flying does have an impact on pilot motivation. Military pilots, who are used to operating in a wide range of areas and jobs, often find civilian flying dull. Civilian pilots, used to the bustle of the civilian skies, can find themselves in a new world in the military flying mode. Some pilots loathe the styles of flying in one area, but love other types of flying in the other. Some don’t like certain types of aircraft, or prefer big planes to small, too.

The Career Realities

The fundamental career fact for a military pilot looking at a civilian role is that you don’t just step out of a fighter and into a jumbo. The training, qualifications and requirement for hours all apply to actually getting one of these jobs. A military pilot with experience on the military versions of some of these planes does have an advantage, where USAF experience is a real plus, but in the civilian pilot job market, it’s a competitive process for getting the work.

The Pay Factor and Pilot Job Market

Pay does matter, particularly for pilots with families. Before making any commitments, however, pilots should note that the top jobs in their profession are as hard to get as any high paying job. Any career moves should be carefully considered, realistic and planned in advance. Whatever move you make, you will need to be fully up to speed on systems, hours and any other requirements.

The civilian pilot job market is normally erratic, and finding the jobs can be an irritating, sometimes lengthy, process. Demand for pilots in different roles varies a lot. It’s a good idea to scout out any areas of interest well in advance, so you have a realistic view of what’s possible. A bit of networking will help in locating leads to good jobs.

Note: Check out the website Aviation for a look at this job market. This site also includes jobs which may be suitable for experienced pilots in other roles.

Military Pilots and Career Moves

A move from the military pilot role to civilian doesn’t necessarily mean an instant drastic improvement in income. Civilian pilot pay varies on the basis of types of work, their market rates and employers. Some of these jobs aren’t all that glamorous, either, and it’s worth checking out the jobs before applying. Also remember, you need to keep an eye on your career altimeter at all times. You can actually go backwards, if your hours on a class of aircraft, for example, aren’t up to requirements in a 2 year period.