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Becoming a Dispatcher at 55

Discussion in 'Flight Control/Dispatch' started by MarkM0228, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    Hi Guys,

    Years ago, I wanted to be a professional pilot. I obtained my commercial/instrument in pursuit of that goal. However, before I could work in the 'front office' of an airplane, I lost my medical. To lose my dream on the cusp of achieving it was painful, to say the least. I fueled airliners for a couple of years at STL, and then walked away from aviation altogether. I thought it was the best thing to do at the time. In retrospect, it was the wrong decision, but I can't change the past.

    After walking away from aviation, I did other things. I went back to school and got a bachelors in electronics, a hobby I pursued as a kid. While in school, I worked as a TA. After school, I worked in offices at a couple of Fortune 500 companies, then worked in the electronics industry, where I'm presently employed. Though the job is secure (my company is growing and has regular overtime), I feel like I'm in a rut. I've heard it said that a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out-how true it is. I don't want to LIVE like this any longer! By hook or by crook, I am going to change my situation.

    That said, I never really lost my love of airplanes and everything aviation. I've been a regular reader at Airinsight.com, Aviation Week, and Aviation-History.com. The last website is a MUST SEE for any aviation buff!

    While reading an aviation website recently, I read about dispatchers. When I was training to be a professional pilot, I'd heard about them but didn't investigate them; after all, I wanted to be a pilot, and that's all that mattered. After finding out more about it, I think that dispatching would be an IDEAL career for me; I think I would love it! That said, I am 54 going on 55. If I were to enroll at Sheffield next year, I would be 55. Though I'm a young 54 going on 55 (I still skate, go kayaking on the river, and surf when I can), I'm still 54 going on 55. There are folks (i.e. hiring managers) who WILL hold that against me. My question to you is this: would I be able to find a JOB after completing the course at Sheffield? Though I've read this forum for months, I've never found a post or thread that would really apply to me; the closest I found was this one: http://forums.jetcareers.com/threads/pursuing-a-flight-dispatcher-career.79796/. The gentleman there (who made the OP) was 50, not 54 going on 55.

    I know that, based on reading the many threads (especially the helpful new dispatcher FAQ!), that I will probably take a pay cut; since I'm totally debt free, I can handle that. I know that I will have to relocate; one has to go where the jobs are. Since I no longer have family nearby (mom died in 2012); since I'm single; since there's nothing here for me anymore; that's okay too. Finally, since I worked at STL fueling planes, I'm aware that aviation is a union oriented business, and as such, my life will be chained to my seniority number. IOW, I have a good idea of what I'm getting into.

    Before I close, let me tell you something else. Though I'm not rich (I drive a 2006 Nissan), I have enough in the bank & mutual funds to qualify for a retirement visa in countries south of the border. In some countries, I could live well with what I have. I thought about early retirement, but I don't know if I'm READY for that! As corny as it sounds, I need a reason to get up in the morning; I need to have a mission in life, as it were. I hope that makes sense.

    I wish that I'd found out about dispatching sooner; oh, how I would have LOVED to have spent the last 2-3 decades of my life doing that! The career seems to be a good fit for me. Unfortunately, none of us can change the past; what's done is done. That said, I can change my future, and I would like to enjoy whatever years I have left. I think I could work to 70 and beyond if it were something that I enjoy, if I worked at something that lit me up. Since I have to get up in the morning, I would like to look FORWARD to doing so.

    Guys, I'm not worried about passing Sheffield's course. I got a degree in electronics, which entailed the study of calculus, physics, and other heavy duty material; even at my age, I still have sufficient brainpower to handle anything Sheffield can throw at me. That said, will I be able to get a job when I finish? Will I be able to work in aviation after all? Or should I just think about early retirement? All I know is that I'm in a rut, and I don't want to be there any longer. Thanks in advance to any and all responses, guys...

    Mark
     
  2. Flagship_dxer

    Flagship_dxer The Penis Mightier

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    I think you can definitely get hired by a regional, most likely by a LCC or supplemental and with enough experience (3-5 years) at those possibly a major. At age 55, you really need to think about the working hours more than anything else even at a regional. Chances are regardless of where you work, you will not be on a 9-5 shift. You will probably have 3-6AM starts and quite possibly 9-11PM starts. Can you handle not getting many weekends off and working most holidays? Depending on when you want to take your vacations each year, you may struggle to get time off during the summer months. You might not have very much if any vacation at many of the regionals.

    Like with anything in the airlines, timing is everything. If you get hired at the right time, you can quickly get a nice schedule pretty much anywhere. Wrong time and you can be stuck on midnights until you hit age 70 in 15 years.
     
  3. Kev

    Kev RNP 2112

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    Every airline is different in what they're looking for. It might be worth considering that if HR is generally more involved in the hiring process, they may be less inclined to hire an older applicant due to concern over health insurance costs. The Government Accountability Office referenced this in a study not too long ago.* In which case, if you are interviewed, I would not freely offer that you lost your medical once upon a time.

    If it were up to me, I'd hire you over an equally-qualified candidate because you write very well. Welcome to the forums!

    *http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590408.pdf
    Also http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files...ork/pdf/publications/IB08_HealthInsurance.pdf
     
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  4. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    Since I got my license right about the time The Cold War ended, I'll simply say that the downsizing of the military and subsequent influx of military pilots in the job market effectively closed my window of opportunity. Anyone who knows anything about aviation will know that former military pilots have a leg up over their civilian counterparts when searching for airline jobs. They get more training, and they get better training. They have more experience, and they have better experience. Moreover, that experience is more relevant, particularly if the military pilot has a background in flying transport type aircraft, i.e. equipment similar to what the airlines fly. For example, back when I got my license, the C-5 was operational. The C-5 was a heavy, four engine jet; it was very similar to the B747, another heavy, four engine jet. The former C-5 jock could make an easier and quicker transition to the B747-simple as that. The military pilot has lots of what the airlines are seeking: a great deal of multi-engine, cross country, turbine time. How can a pilot from a civilian background compete with that?
     
  5. Kev

    Kev RNP 2112

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    That's a good response. I'm just suggesting that you never mention the medical in an interview. Didn't say you would, but wanted to introduce the factor of employer-sponsored healthcare which may limit your opportunities. It's unfortunate, but seemingly accurate.

    Some airlines have more meddlesome HR departments than others (cough: UPS). Not every hiring decision is 50 percent input from dispatch management and the other half with Resources. I would strongly suspect that for most airlines, as it relates to dispatcher hiring, the dispatch manager has by far the most significant input and HR is along for the ride simply because that's the very least that is required. Generally, they don't know what we do, what our skill sets might be, how our individual personalities balance with those skill sets, or especially how previous fields of experience might translate toward aptitude and success as an employee in our role.

    You seem have some impressive education and variety in work experience which may demonstrate the ability to pick up new tasks and execute appropriately. Provided you have a solid, long-term employment history without a slew of gaps, the deck is stacked in your favor with a recruiter or upon initial review by a dispatch manager--- on paper.

    I am not suggesting that you would not be hired by an airline if you choose to pursue this. But I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that age is not a factor at all. Based on your introduction, you sound like a great candidate. But you might not have the opportunity to express as much detail in an interview - if you get past a recruiter or manager that is inclined to passively discriminate on age, which could be deduced through work history and dates of education completion on your resume. I'm positive that does happen to an extent. Not at all employers, but some.

    Your passion and consideration of finances are all very well indeed, and hopefully that could be well received in an interview should there be any initial prejudicial concerns. The financial question may also be of particular consideration to both. If they've got a 23 year old applying at $17/hr, they might think it's a safer bet that he/she will be sticking around for that kind of pay.

    Anyway, if you get out of Sheffield and do well I think someone would hire you eventually if you keep your options open. You did mention your age in the thread, and I'm just pointing out some rather cynical, but realistic, considerations that might be made in relation to your potential candidacy somewhere down the road.

    I know we'll do all we can around here to help out with any questions you might have. Welcome again and I'm rooting for ya!
     
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  6. PlaneFan82

    PlaneFan82 Well-Known Member

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    Frustrating hiring processes: Delta (cough cough)




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  7. JDRUNNER

    JDRUNNER Well-Known Member

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    If you elect to move forward you should not have any substantial problems getting hired by a regional. I changed careers at 39- this year after being an attorney. I had a job offer at one of the largest regionals within 2 weeks of getting my certificate and didn't attend Sheffield- imagine that. Lol.

    Don't let your age stop you. It's better to be older and go to work doing something you truly like than hating going to work everyday!

    Like you, I thought I would be an airline pilot but stopped after getting my private. I am very happy with my new career. Send me a pm if you have any questions. Good luck.
     
  8. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    Kev,

    Thanks for the very helpful reply! I figured that age would be a consideration-at least for some. When I wrote Mr. Eric Morris, president of Sheffield, he said the same thing. His honesty and candor make me feel better about going to Sheffield.

    That said, for other companies, age isn't a barrier; if anything, it's a plus. I know that's how it is where I am, because sizeable portion of our workforce is over 40. Besides, with the overall population getting older, I think that age discrimination will be less of an issue in all fields.

    I'm going to go for it! I believe I can do this, and I believe that someone will hire me. Thanks again for your helpful replies. Thanks also for your encouragement; it means a lot.

    With that, I shall wish you a very nice day!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
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  9. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    JDRunner,

    I read your early post where you discussed changing careers, and it was an encouragement to me. Thank you!

    What's also ironic is that I completed my bachelor's degree, at least in part, so I could attend law school; you need a bachelor's of some sort to apply. However, after I researched the law, I decided against it. I decided against it because of the glut of attorneys; I also decided against it because the legal business doesn't offer the most pleasant of work environments. Small law doesn't pay well. Big law pays well, but you earn EVERY CENT of your six figure paychecks by working 80-100 hour weeks all the time; also, the work hours are unpredictable.

    Finally, I can relate to going to a job you hate every day; oh, how I can relate to that! I've been doing the same for the better part of 10 years now, and enough's enough.

    I'm going to go for it; I can do this. After the new year, I'm going to sign up for Sheffield's June class. That'll give me about 5 months to get ready. In terms of study, it'll rival anything I did for my electronics degree. Back then, I routinely studied 3-4 hours a night, and I know I'll be in for more of the same at Sheffield. Thanks for your encouragement, and have a nice day!
     
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  10. 3Green.

    3Green. Well-Known Member

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    Go for it! As people have mentioned before, timing can be everything. For example, my personal journey took me just a year to make it to a major from dispatching at a regional. I know a gentleman who was hired by a major at the age of 56 ( with a lot dispatch experience), and he's absolutely loving it and doing really well for himself. Stay motivated, and don't stop using this website as a resource for potential job opportunities, I did!
     
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  11. 100LL

    100LL New Member

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    I am in a similar position, considering a dispatch career in middle age. Like you, I think getting the certificate would be the easy part, especially for someone who welcomes tackling advanced/technical subjects.

    In terms of hiring, not just airlines but in general. We'd all like to think appearances don't matter, but let's face it, they do way more than they should. Specifically on the age question. While you can't control when you were born, there are things older men can do to dramatically appear more competent and healthier. Even people with average looks these things can help a ton.

    1. Be as lean as you can be. Lack of abdominal fat makes you look more energetic and motivated. Also, lean men show true facial features more clearly, always a good thing. Swear off sugar. And pasta. And bread. And rice.
    2. Wear modern style clothes that fit your body. No loose clothing that might make you look "frumpy".
    3. Personnel hygine. Be as clean and tidy as possible. Need those wild eyebrows trimmed? Having a little grey hair is no problem, but know when to tone it back if it gets too advanced.
    4. Wear a really nice pair of shoes. Seriously!

    I realize those suggestions appear shallow. At the end of the day a person can appear well put together, or like they kind of let themselves go a little bit. How much does all this influence interviews and the outcome of a job search? You can nail the qualifications, knowledge and skill but if 300 candidates are applying for 10 positions and you don't have a friend on the inside - I say try and stack the deck in your favor as much as you can.

    I'd love to get others opinion.
     
  12. Flying Saluki

    Flying Saluki Well-Known Member

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    I read your post. I read in between the lines of your post. And perhaps I am reading too much into your post. But while I agree with your assessment that you are in a rut, I am going to venture the opinion that it has very little to do with your job, and that a career change is not going to address the fundamental issue.

    We are similar in age, you and I, and I have been where you are now. And I made the career change you are thinking about, albeit in the opposite direction. I found the satisfaction I sought, but it turns out that it had very little to do with the career, and much more to do with other changes I made in my life.

    Before you move heaven and earth and completely upset the apple cart of your life, may I suggest you make some changes outside of your work and see if that helps. Take up a new hobby. Learn to play a musical instrument. Volunteer for a cause that's important to you. Take a college class completely unrelated to what you do now. Whatever. Start with some small changes before you do a big change. Don't make a strategic move in a tactical crisis.

    By the way I am back in aviation now, and completely satisfied but, as I say, it has very little to do with my work. The work is just a means to do other things in my life.

    Good luck on whatever you decide

    The
     
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  13. Aeroscout840

    Aeroscout840 Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to the party, you're going to love it here. 100LL's very practical advice was excellent, and Kev provided some great points too. I'm a late comer to the profession (late 40's) and your story about being in a rut was similar to my own. Three years after Sheffield and I'm at a major -- I am so happy and grateful. Ageism is very real, but can be overcome by attitude. Most hiring managers will overlook almost anything for a person who is enthusiastic, inspired, works well with others, and is ready to learn. After Sheffield, PRACTICE INTERVIEWING. This is so often overlooked by folks who wonder "why am I not being hired". The internet and the library are full of ways to perfect you presentation. Good luck, and go for it.
     
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  14. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    AS840,

    When I was in college, we had a career development class in which we did practice interviews for a whole SEMESTER. I went up to the front to practice as much as I could, since that was a weak point of mine. The big thing I got out of the class was this: show how and why you can meet the employer's NEEDS; do that, and you'll have the job.
     
  15. pcstan

    pcstan Stupidly Optimistic

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    Hey MarkM0228, I know you've gotten a bunch of responses already, but I wanted to throw my 2 cents in the pot...

    I started my Dispatch career at 50 and have no regrets. True, I'm not 55, but we just hired a couple of 55-ish year-old's within the last year. I've only been doing this for 1-1/2 years. My prior aviation experience is almost nonexistent - I got my Sport Pilot's license in the Summer of 2014 and my Dispatch license in the Spring of 2015. Being a Commercial pilot should put you in a very good light with the hiring mangers because you know the job from BOTH sides of the computer. I only fly little 2-seater LSA's and have a blast, but the fact that I have a license was important to my employer. Anyway, it's all about QOL. If you hate your current job, move on! I love Dispatching, but I've discovered that I love teaching Dispatching even more. Another 1.5 years of this and I think I'll get my DADE (if available in my area) to help mold future dispatch minds (and make a few extra $$$ as well).

    Good luck! Enjoy the ride!
     
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  16. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    Stan,

    Thank you! Thank you for your encouragement.

    About my license, I got it back in 1989, but was never able to fly professionally. I haven't flown in years. Since then, what I knew as TCAs, TRSAs, ATAs, etc. became Class A, B, C, etc. airspace, so I'll have to learn the new nomenclature. Finally, we didn't have glass cockpits when I learned to fly; the HSI was the new thing at the time. IOW, I would have to learn to fly all over again. I think I'll go ahead and do that! That said, I remember enough about flying to put myself in the pilot's shoes.

    As for teaching, you'll love it! I was a TA in college, and it was some of the most fun and fulfillment I ever had! There's nothing like helping someone take their game to the next level, whatever their game is...

    Anyway, thanks again for the encouragement. If you did it, then so can I; after all I'm a YOUNG soon to be 55... :)
     
  17. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    I did it; I sent my registration, app fee, and deposit to Sheffield yesterday! Though working a full 10 years to the day would have been nice, I opted for the April 17th class. One, a month short will be close enough to say that I did 10 years at my present employer. Two, there's no reason to wait to start this new chapter ASAP; none of us know how long we have on this Earth. I'm also signed up for the AFIP, EWINS, and ETOPS workshops held after the five week class is over. I can't wait!

    I overnighted my application and check, so they'll arrive at Sheffield today. FedEx has gotten EXPENSIVE since I last used them decades ago-wow! Unfortunately, the USPS Express Mail does NOT offer a guarantee of overnighting your urgent package, so FedEx was the default choice. I did this to have access to the online study materials (Sheffield won't be in the office tomorrow), because I wanted to get a head start on prepping for the ADX written. The goal is to be ready to take the written when I arrive, so I can focus on the class material. When I talked to the folks at Sheffield, they recommended starting ASAP (I'll have about 15 weeks prep time). They recommended an hour a day during the workweek, and doing more on the weekends, so as to be ready to take the ADX written upon arrival.

    Thanks again for all the helpful thoughts and encouragement everyone offered on here! I really do appreciate them. Thanks again, everyone!
     
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  18. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    100LL,

    You offer, good, sober thoughts on this. Thank you! After visiting the doc yesterday, some weight loss is in order! Though I lost 40# over the past 2-3 years, I gained 10 of it back. Now, I have some questions for you.

    WRT point #1, when you say to swear off sugar, does this mean swearing off bees' honey too? I like to put natural honey (i.e. the good stuff straight from the hive) in my hot tea in the morning; the brother and SIL said dairy products were a no-no, so tea has been substituted for milk with breakfast. I cut down sodas, though I still drink them occasionally. As for pasta, I don't have it often anymore-perhaps once or twice a month.

    About point #2, how does one know what's modern anymore, especially for someone who was never style conscious in the first place? When I go shopping, I simply go to Old Navy (or similar store), find things I like, and get them. Hopefully, that is good enough.

    For point #3, I have my own hair clipper; the hair and eyebrows get trimmed regularly. Nothing looks worse than unkempt hair and bushy eyebrows, especially on an older person-ick! Nothing screams 'old fart' more loudly than this.

    Finally, WRT point #4, as an old Navy vet, I can still make my shoes shine well enough to almost shave off them! Some things one never forgets from one's youth... :)

    Thanks again for your thoughts! I do appreciate them, and they will be kept in mind... :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  19. MarkM0228

    MarkM0228 Well-Known Member

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    FS,

    You offer good thoughts on this, things that have crossed my mind also. I've wanted to respond to your post for a while now, but haven't had the time or energy to do so until now.

    I thought about volunteering, but for the cause that matters to me (helping homeless pets), I couldn't do time at the local, no-kill shelter because it would simply be too gut-wrenching and heartbreaking for me; I have a difficult time even looking at the pics of mistreated animals! That said, I do make donations (both financial and supplies) to them.

    For the new hobby, I've tried learning the Linux command line since my old, Dell laptop has the LXLE distro on it. If you're looking to revive an old computer and make it perform like a newer machine (one with Win 7 or higher), put LXLE on it; it rocks! I can't believe how it revived that old Dell of mine-wow! Unfortunately, the lack of time and energy seem get in the way when I have tried the new hobby thing in the past. Hell, life has gotten in the way of riding and tinkering with my bikes-and that's an EXISTING hobby! Having said that, it helped my mental and emotional outlook in the past, but it's not been enough by itself.

    Finally, while I've committed to attending Sheffield in April, I won't rule out returning to my present employer after graduation. One, they were having me do my old job again (testing of electronics) again, which I like. I was taken off doing that, because I got electrocuted 2+ years ago. However, my boss is short of two guys for testing, but he has no time to find, let alone train, someone new; we have new product development going on, and my boss spends a lot of time doing that.. So, on a limited, trial basis, they've been having me do my old job again to help out. Unfortunately, that hasn't been a full time thing; I still have to do my present job also, which I hate. That said, I won't rule out returning after Sheffield, which means I might be doing what you did. My late mother always said to never say never to anything, which is something to keep in mind here.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful and thought provoking response to my OP. Have a great day!
     
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  20. Sandydfw

    Sandydfw Well-Known Member

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    Congrats and good luck on this new chapter in your life.
     

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