Becoming a Pilot at 30: Age Is Not a Barrier
So you have decided to make a career switch to piloting. But then you remind yourself that you’re 30 years old. You get afraid that age might get in your way. You start wondering “Can I become a pilot at 30 or is it too late?” Do I need previous work experience in the aviation industry? How do I go about this career change?
Read this guide to discover whether becoming a pilot at age 30 is possible and how exactly you can make it happen.
Is 30 too old to start a pilot career?
Don’t let anyone discourage you: Becoming a pilot at 30 is quite possible as long as you’re fairly healthy and fit to fly an airplane or helicopter. At 30, it’s not too late to start learning how to fly, whether you want to become an airline pilot, private jet pilot, or simply want to fly for fun. Some folks have joined flight school at a much older age than 30, so your age shouldn’t get in your way of learning to fly.
REMEMBER…Ernie Smith is the oldest pilot on the planet to hold a pilot license. He holds the Guinness record as the oldest pilot in the world. And he flew his last plane at age 101!
Are you still doubting whether you can become a pilot at 30?
If you put on the right mindset and are willing to pump in the time and effort it takes to log the minimum flight hours required and earn your Commercial Pilot License (CPL), then age isn’t a barrier for you. The most important thing here is to do the job correctly and more importantly, safely.
The only caveat that might come up on whether you can get your CPL is whether you’ll pass the FAA medical exam. The exam assesses whether you’re physically and mentally fit to fly a helicopter. If you have fairly good health, passing this exam is easy, and becoming a pilot at 30 is 100% possible.
Also worth noting is that flight school only have a starting age for aspiring pilots but no upper age limit. This further makes the path clear for you if you decide to switch to a pilot career at 30.
Why it is not too late to become a pilot at 30
Flight schools are usually populated by young students, probably in their late teens or early 20s, which can make age 30 feel too old to become a pilot.
BUT what you might not know is that changing your career path at this age comes with a bunch of advantages in your favor.
The top reason why joining a flight school at 30 can be beneficial to you is that you’ll have more life experience than the younger students. You can count on this experience to help with your training. This is because a big part of flying an airplane revolves around being able to make quick decisions and following the correct procedures.
If you can follow directions and be able to make quick decisions, then keeping yourself and your passengers safe becomes easy! Your previous work and life experience can greatly help in making quick decisions and following directions (especially for the veterans)—helping make your flight training easier.
Maturity is also a desirable attribute for a pilot, and this can further help with your flight training. As an older pilot who has worked somewhere before, you can score a job much easier than a young pilot who started flying at a young job and has no job experience.
When you eventually join a flight school, you’ll be surprised to discover that you’re not the only student pilot learning at 30. Some students are even older (as old as 40). Retired veterans make up a good number of flight students as they’re able to use their VA benefits to cover their flight school costs.
A quick tip: If you’re not a veteran and want to join a flight school at 30, consider schools that cater to veterans. This will ensure you train with students of your age and you can easily fit in.
Tips on how to become a pilot at 30
In this section, we have prepared some helpful tips and advice you should keep in mind as you prepare to join that flight school and make your dream come true.
Commitment is everything
Becoming a pilot is a process that will take you anything from 1½ to 2 years, and you need to be dedicated to making it happen.
You should know that flight schools involve lots of work and are quite demanding. If you don’t have the proper motivation, you might even end up dropping out midway through the journey, especially if you’re an older student.
The secret is to set your mind that you want to become a pilot and be fully dedicated to the process that comes with earning the license. If you do this, you’ll become a pilot long before you know it. Just dedicate yourself to this process!
Have an end goal in mind
What’s your reason for wanting to become a pilot? Do you plan to get a job as a pilot and start earning money? Or you just need to learn flying as a hobby?
Having a clear end goal long before you join a flight school is important. Otherwise, enrolling in a school without a plan will make things difficult for you later.
If you want to become an airline pilot and earn money, you should learn about the key requirements for a commercial pilot license. You should also take time to learn about the aviation job industry inside out.
Be ready to put in a lot of effort
Learning to become a pilot isn’t easy. You’ll need to study hard and do a lot of practice before you can earn that pilot license. You’ll need to go through ground labs, flight labs, and pass both written and practical exams.
You should put more time into your studies and give yourself less free time. If you prepare yourself for this before you join the flight schools, chances are high you’ll be able to sail through the workloads easily.
Some of the students you’re training with could be natural pilots and could learn flying skills much faster than you. This shouldn’t make you feel like you’re in the wrong place. Just keep struggling with the flying training for the first few trials.
Eventually, you’ll master all the skills, maneuvers, etc., and then you’ll look back and laugh at your earlier struggles.
Make sure you have a budget in place
Flight school is quite an investment. And, as such, you need to make sure you have funding for the training program. If you’re a veteran, then you’re in luck because you can count on your VA benefits to pay for your training program.
Otherwise, you might consider applying for student loans, finical aids, scholarships, etc.
Given that you’ll be spending a ton of money on the training, you’ll need to ensure you get the most out of your money.
Take your time to research different schools to ensure you spend your money in the right one that will take your education seriously and help you succeed as a pilot.
Know the aviation industry
Aviation is a big world, so big that it can get easily confusing for a starter. If you can take time to learn about the industry and learn what you’ll need to do beyond learning to fly, then you’ll be a more polished pilot by the time you’re graduating.
One of the things you need to know is that you won’t walk straight from a graduate pilot to high-paying jobs. You’ll need to build up your flight hours for you to get a high-paying job.
As a new pilot, you’ll most probably start with low-paying jobs such as tour pilot or flight instructor. These will get you paid while helping you build up your flight hours and experience needed to score high-paying pilot jobs.
Making a career switch to pilot at age 30 is a bold step but in the right direction. You should let nobody discourage you from taking this new path. If it has always been your dream to fly, you can still do it at 30 as long as you pass the FAA medical exam which qualifies you as physically and mentally fit to fly. We have discussed in details everything you should expect at flight school and additional tips to help you smoothly go through the flight training until you get that commercial pilot license and start living your dream in the air. Good luck!