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First I'd like to say hello to everyone on the forums. I've been reading for several months, and have some questions. I'd like to thank everyone for helping me to where I am at now with knowledge, even though I have yet to post on the forum. Although there is a lot of information on here, some of the threads seem rather old and potentially out dated so I'm looking for up to date information.


I'm currently preparing to transition out of the military. I've seen a lot of information on schools (even a current / up to date thread) - both vocational and degree programs - but I haven't read a whole lot about how long the straight vocational route usually takes if I banged through it.


I'd like to know how long would it take (assuming I progress at an average rate) if I sat down and trained M-F, 9-5 (for example). I ask this mostly because although I am not entirely closed off to the degree option, I'm seeking more information on straight vocational training and certification. School never really interested me, so I feel straight training is a better fit for me. And yes, I'm aware of the significant financial entitlements / differences - but at this point I'm still gathering final data and information, and have not closed off all options...


SHORT TERM GOALS (1-2 years)

- Private Pilot Certification

- Instrument Rating

- Commercial, CFI

- Secure Flight Instructor Position


MID-TERM GOALS (2-5 years)

- Secure Heli-Tour or Equiv. piloting position to build hours
- Build TT hours



- EMS or Corporate Transport


I've read some stories of pilots going from Private to commercial turbine employment in less than a two or three year time span. Is this common or a reasonable expectation / goal now days? ??


Flying professionally is a dream that I've had for years, and I'm ready to make it a reality. I have no illusion that it's an easy career to get off the ground, but I am but this is something I'm passionate about and need to make happen. And to make it happen, I need a rough outline on time requirements.


My next question is current job market, and projected job market. Doing my own research I've gathered (although there is no formal format) most pilots begin building hours with their CFI to build experience before transitioning to something like flying tours or work in the GOM, frequently with TT training received by employer. But how long does it take to get to this point? What was your route to becoming a successful pilot? From what I've been able to gather, within the next several years, the demand for pilots is going to increase roughly 8-11 percent.


I'd like to thank everyone in advance for the responses.

Look forward to hearing from you!


Edited by RotaryRish
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I’m quite sure others will chime-in and elaborate with additional information. With that, I’ll start with some very basic information.

First of all, you’ll need to understand the most common path to employment in order to lay out a training plan which leads to success. Specifically, your long-term and short-term goals indicate a misunderstanding which needs to be clarified. That is, the most common entry level job which leads to higher level jobs is that of a flight instructor. Therefore, you’ll need to attain CFII certification prior to earning a spot in operations such as tours. Teaching is where you build hours for further employment (which you apparently understand). Either way, never forget, there are no shortcuts in this business and teaching is the only *real* way to accomplish your goals. With the above in mind, your certification training plan should be (all helicopter), Private Pilot, Instrument (rating), Commercial, CFI (rating) and then CFII (rating), in that order. Certification through CFII provides you with the marketability you’ll need to compete in the entry-level job market.

For the timeframe, to go from zero flight time to CFII certification, full-time (full-time equals 5 days a week), you’d be looking at 12 to 18 months depending on the school, and your aptitude. From graduation (CFII certification) to first job can be *immediate* to *never happening* -at all. From first job as a CFII to an entry level turbine gig; 2 to 5 years, assuming you’re working for a busy flight school. From there, it’s all about turbine PIC time. To qualify for an EMS seat you’ll need 2000 to 3000 hours with time in the appropriate categories such as “night”.

With regards to the job market; do not rationalize where the helicopter job market currently is, or will be in the future. Simply put, if this is something you truly want to do, why would it matter what the speculators say? If you have any fear about failure as a helicopter pilot, you should probably seek another field. And, the OG’s will tell you, while the helicopter job market ebbs-and-flows, it never really changes. Simply put, what it took to succeed as a helicopter pilot years ago, is the same today……

Edited by Spike
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RR, what Spike said is correct. The work market does ebb and flow. Right now it appears to be slowing down due to oil prices. However, that could change. There are those that are saying that with military operations winding down that the job market will be tight. That was true right after Viet Nam, however this time DoD used a lot of reservists and NG instead, so I don't believe that we will see the flood of pilots like happened after VN. I entered the pilot job market during this time. And I still managed to find work. It can be done. You will have to network and be willing to move to where the work is. I have seen too many pilots that drop out of the job market because of their unwillingness to move.


You will need to invest in yourself. Go to events like HeliExpo and HeliSuccess early in your training. While it will not get you a job right then, it does allow you to network and find out from employers what they are looking for. Start working on your resume now. Update it as you progress. Look over your military career and leverage the experience. You can skip mentioning things like SIOP qualifications. Stay with anything aviation oriented, however things like being the General's pilot, Aide, Crew Chief, embassy pilot, embassy crew chief, etc should be on your resume. Why? Because corporate operators and VIP charter operators like that kind of experience dealing with high power VIPs. I don't know of any general that got to be a general by taking NO for an answer.


Lastly, I would give strong consideration to getting the degree. Many corporate jobs want that and it helps you stand out in the market place. It will also give you a fallback position if you lose your medical.


Good luck.

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Thanks for the input thus far!
Thank you for the clarification on CFII rating. I'll have to look at readjusting my Goals for future responses. Aside from that, it appears I've got a good understanding of PIC time requirements for positions like EMS, knowing that this isn't something that will happen overnight. Likewise I do understand there is always the possibility of not securing employment *immediately* or ever for that matter, but without trying to sound too big headed, I'm confident I've got what it takes as I'm definitely a never quit kind of guy who while I'm certainly no General (ha), do not have a habit of feeling defeated or giving up when told the inevitable "NO". But I don't think anyone would passionately peruse a career they don't think they were capable of achieving.


Also thanks for input on job market Spike. I certainly understand there is no guarantee in market stability or forecast, but at this point I am still gathering information and although it won't interfere with my goals or dreams, it is nice to have as much information as possible :rolleyes:


I have no reservations in the potential necessity to move frequently. Being raised in the military, the concept of moving not only doesn't really bother me, but actually is something I look forward to. I try to just look at it as travel experience, and the opportunity to meet more people in the profession / networking. Oh and did I mention travel (even if means the occasional bum-fudge-middle-of-nowhere).


I also haven't completely ruled out a degree program. There seems to be a lot of information / stories out there of individuals who have completed their training and the associated time line of their accomplishments who utilized higher education simultaneously. I was mostly curious to see how long and what the journey was like for those who did not use a degree program / GI Bill to get their career started.


I've actually already began looking at their curriculum's to figure out what my current credits may equate to respectively, potentially moving me through the academic portion faster - and what I can do in the next year academically to move this along as well. I'm a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C person by nature it would appear. Haha. But as of right now, I'm looking at COCC/LE as I've read good things about them, and it doesn't hurt that they're relatively close to home (WA). Guidance Aviation and Upper Limit (know there is a current bitter taste toward these guys right now with some) are two others I'm considering as of current.


Lastly I look forward to the EXPOs, networking opportunities here, and insight from the plethora of varied experience in the forums!

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To pile on with others, I also recommend you complete your degree. Presuming you are eligible for your full GI Bill entitlement, it doesn't make sense to me not to use it to capture a college degree. In my view, the GI Bill is a CAREER program, and I think the best way to set yourself up for successful career is to get your degree at the same time you are working through your aviation ground school requirements anyway. After all, if something goes wrong (medical, etc) and your aviation career does not flourish for some reason, you damn sure better have a degree in your pocket after investing all that work.


Listen to Spike above (I have been reading his stuff for years on this board.) If you flew as hard as you could, caught all the breaks on weather, aircraft availability, instructor availability, AND were also a really talented student, it still takes at least 12 months to earn all the certificates. And you would probably be a mental zombie at the end of that. But if you adopt a more reasonable training pace, you can complete the same program AND have a degree in your pocket in only two years. That one extra year right up front seems to me a smart investment that can positively bear upon the rest of your adult life.


BTW, I'm enrolled at COCC and Leading Edge; I should be wrapping up the program this summer. PM me if you have specific questions.

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