Trucker to Airline Pilot

Freightshaker

Active Member
Break one nine,

I'm looking to transition into aviation over the next 5 to 7 years. I've been driving for 3 years and in the past 7 months I've switched from long haul to local work and finally have some disposable time and income. I currently don't have an undergrad degree but I'll be able to work on that. Right now I'm looking to start training for my PPL at the end of the month. My plan as of now is to obtain my PPL and then start training to become an aircraft dispatcher (I've been told I don't need a college degree for this). I'd like to leave the trucking industry, and transition into aviation by taking the aircraft dispatcher route. While doing that I'd have to balance work, obtaining flight ratings, and obtaining a degree, with the end goal of becoming a professional pilot. I'm wondering if this is possible or realistic? I currently working 60 to 70 hours a week, If I'm able to work 40 as a dispatcher I feel like I can manage those other tasks.

I apologize in advance if I sound naive, I'm just trying to figure out the best place to start. I'm already 25 and I don't want to be pushing rigs down the highway forever. I'd rather do it in the air.

Dan
 
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USMCmech

Well-Known Member
As a CFI, my ideal flight student is a truck driver.


Seriously, they pick up flying faster than any other demographic. They understand mechanical systems, energy management, thinking ahead of the airplane, regulations, and importance of weather.

Engineers on the other hand......
 

Freightshaker

Active Member
My Dad is an engineer and didn't finish getting his PPL so maybe you're on to something @USMCmech .

Currently the trucking industry is full of woefully undertrained and unskilled drivers due to high turnover, regulations, and low pay. Most of the bad drivers eventually become unemployable, only to be replaced by fresh meat coming in and the cycle continues, but that's another topic.

I love driving, but it's become a "job" since local work is usually touch freight and it seems like I do a lot more unloading than turning miles. But it's incredibly good at teaching you the value of situational awareness and practicing good judgment. 40 tons down a mountain in the wrong gear can be a life changing experience.

All that aside, am I thinking about this in the right way? I'm wondering if going the dispatcher route is a good way to get in the door, can anyone offer me some insight on that? For 2019, I'd like to get my PPL and instrument rating. I feel like that's possible flying 3 to 4 weekends a month. Then I want to go take the dispatcher course with ATP in Dallas.
 

FlyingAccountant

Well-Known Member
The problem with becoming a dispatcher is like most things, you're going to have to start out at the bottom making dirt which is going to slow down your training. I'd keep doing the truck thing, get your degree online, and train when you can. Then when you have your ratings, you can dial back the truck driving while replacing it with paid flying, and work your way up to a regional or whatever your ultimate goal is.
 

QXDX

Well-Known Member
Break one nine,

I'm looking to transition into aviation over the next 5 to 7 years. I've been driving for 3 years and in the past 7 months I've switched from long haul to local work and finally have some disposable time and income. I currently don't have an undergrad degree but I'll be able to work on that. Right now I'm looking to start training for my PPL at the end of the month. My plan as of now is to obtain my PPL and then start training to become an aircraft dispatcher (I've been told I don't need a college degree for this). I'd like to leave the trucking industry, and transition into aviation by taking the aircraft dispatcher route. While doing that I'd have to balance work, obtaining flight ratings, and obtaining a degree, with the end goal of becoming a professional pilot. I'm wondering if this is possible or realistic? I currently working 60 to 70 hours a week, If I'm able to work 40 as a dispatcher I feel like I can manage those other tasks.

I apologize in advance if I sound naive, I'm just trying to figure out the best place to start. I'm already 25 and I don't want to be pushing rigs down the highway forever. I'd rather do it in the air.

Dan
Speaking as a Dispatcher:

What would be the purpose of the interim job as a dispatcher, if your goal is flying? Sounds to me like the dispatcher job is just a means to transition out of trucking and into aviation quicker. Also, it sounds like the truck driving job is the means to finance the flight training. If you switch to dispatch as an interim job you'll have the time to flight train, but not the money. Entry level dispatchers only earn about 30-35K a year.

If it were me, I'd keep driving, to finance the flight training. Drive, save money, accomplish certificate or rating, repeat as necessary. Once you have your Commercial and Flight Instructor certificates, then, if it's really something you want to do, you can look into the dispatch job. But really, if you want to be a pilot, then be a pilot. The time you spend at the airport will probably do more to move you towards your goal than time in the dispatch office.

Of course, if you want to advance beyond a regional airline, you will need a 4-year degree, but that is a different discussion.
 

Markf64

Well-Known Member
@Freightshaker
First...welcome to JC. This is a great place to learn about How to become a pilot...lots of good people here with various experiences to help you with your quest.

My input:
I always recommend to potential students who want to be airline pilots is to get your Class 1 medical before starting. If there is some reason you can't get it, it would be very disappointing, but at least you haven't spent a bunch of money on something you can't do.

Once you you have that, Keep your job, start flight training, work on getting a degree. Once you get to a point where you can get your CFI a great way to build hours, but more importantly build experience.

Find a CFI you 'click' with. Let us know what part of the country you are in, you may very well find an instructor on here

Keep coming back, keep asking questions. Occasional, good natured, snarky comments are also welcomed.
 

daydreamer

Well-Known Member
PM me
Been trucking for about 5 years and have all my rating. Where are you located?

Plenty of truck drivers that are pilots.
 

nibake

Powder hound
I drove truck while getting my ratings and I honestly can't imagine a better scenario than the way things went down for me. No debt, fairly quick progression. Without knowing your specifics, I would recommend sticking with your job and knocking out the commercial certificate. It takes a while to get back to making good money again, so being able to get there without debt is a huge help. I'm making good money now, but still not as much as I did oilfield trucking.

Dispatcher really doesn't have a place in the progression, unless it is just something you really want to do. Being "already 25" if you make a plan and stick to it, you could be flying big iron for a great shop by the time you're "already in your 30's" ;)
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
If you want to fly then fly. I wouldn't do the dispatcher course. Spend that time and money on a commercial multi. You should go back into the archives and search Desert Dogs posting history. He did exactly what you are doing like 10 years ago.
 

Flagship_dxer

Legacy Airline Dispatcher
Five years ago being a regional dispatcher could help you get in with that airline as a pilot and make the resume for a major look better when hiring minimums and jobs were more higher and more competitive. Today though, it is probably better to save the money. Regional dispatch jobs have become a lot more competitive as major wages have jumped.

Also, I would hold off on getting a college degree. If you are hired by a regional with a flow then a college degree would be a waste of money.
 

nibake

Powder hound
Five years ago being a regional dispatcher could help you get in with that airline as a pilot and make the resume for a major look better when hiring minimums and jobs were more higher and more competitive. Today though, it is probably better to save the money. Regional dispatch jobs have become a lot more competitive as major wages have jumped.

Also, I would hold off on getting a college degree. If you are hired by a regional with a flow then a college degree would be a waste of money.
Not only that, but if you land a nice job in the meantime, that might be the best time to work on the degree. It would take a lot of pressure of to wait to finish training and get established in a new job before fretting about the degree. There is going to be an intermediate time that is pretty good for that anyway.
 
My uncle decided to finish his ratings and did part time local truck driving. He’s flying for a 135 up here now. I think going the dispatch route will only slow you down.
 

citrus

Sound of the suburbs
A lot of good advice from the members. All I can say is that if your end goal is flying then dispatching will only slow you down. Even if you hate your current job, stick it out because finding a new job is one less thing you need to concern yourself with at this juncture. But once you do start flight training, put horse blinders on and commit to it fully. It's a lot of work on the front end but the harder you exert yourself early on, the more benefits you'll reap in the long term, especially at your age. Power through commercial and get your CFI certs ASAP, which is easily attainable within 1.5 to 2 years.

Btw, where are you located? Location and weather are going to be factors in getting you done in the shortest time possible.
 

knot4u

Repeat Offender
My only advice is to fly at least three times a week during your initial training. If you try to fly 2-3 times a month you're going to maybe finally finish but you'll waste thousands of dollars.
 

DogwoodLynx

Well-Known Member
The problem with becoming a dispatcher is like most things, you're going to have to start out at the bottom making dirt which is going to slow down your training. I'd keep doing the truck thing, get your degree online, and train when you can. Then when you have your ratings, you can dial back the truck driving while replacing it with paid flying, and work your way up to a regional or whatever your ultimate goal is.
Agreed. Having been a driver and as a current dispatcher - stick with driving until you get your flying ratings.

Nix the dispatch thing entirely unless you want it as the career (which it sounds like you don’t).
 
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