Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
HU&W

Leaving the Air Force for Something Other than the Airlines

Recommended Posts

Networking starts with what type of Bro you were on active duty.  I am FAR from perfect but always tried to take care of everyone around me and be a team player.  I mentored and helped people whether they were career types of one tour and out.  In short, I did my best not to be a douche.

When I dropped my papers I told a few folks who put the word out for me. 

My suggestion would be to call your friends, tell them you are getting out and ask for input.  You will be shocked at the positions that are out there and word of mouth and reputation drives the key jobs.

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll chime in with my thoughts although I think my specific experience is probably less relevant. I'm happy to give details on my career and path here but I can count on both hands the number of veterans I know in my entire industry so it might not be that helpful. 

That said I have some general thoughts on civilian life. First, I think it's worth saying that when it comes to the trade off between pay and work/life balance the airlines are really hard to beat. That doesn't make it the right answer but it is worth keeping in mind. All of my peers who make decent six figure paychecks work 10-12 hours a day and many either travel a lot or work weekends. If a company offers free breakfast and dinner as a perk it isn't because they are nice, it's because they expect you to be at the office before breakfast and still working after dinner. I chose money over balance but it was an explicut choice that I knew I was making up front.

If you are getting out after your commitment, not retiring at 20, both consulting and investment banking love military vets. They tend to hire young so I'm not sure they are viable options after a full career. Investment banking is a brutal grind but if you don't mind the hours it is pretty much a guarantee you'll make $300-$500k mid-career with the possibility of much more if you make Managing Director. The hiring cycle is fairly standardized and there are a number of groups/programs targeting vets. Vets on Wall Street is a good one, I also second whoever recommended ACP. I didn't get my job through them but they paired me with a great mentor who introduced me to lots of his contracts. Goldman Sachs has a veterans internship program each year and if you aren't a screwup you will get an offer for a fulltime job.

Consulting is good because it opens up options if you don't really know what you want to do. Most people who start at the big firms, McKinsey/Bain/BCG are the favorites, only stay for 3 or 4 years. After that you will have worked on 5 or 6 projects with different companies in different industries and you'll have a good idea what's out there. If the consulting lifestyle isn't for you it's very easy to transition to a management role at one of the companies you consulted with. If you have a family this is a tough path because consultants are the people keeping the airlines in business.  Normal month will have you on the road Mon-Thur 3 weeks a month.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even the Goldman Sachs Elevator (GSE, google it for hours of entertainment) guy makes a comment that late bloomers aren't really welcome, unless you were military. Specifically he says fighter pilot, but you get the idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎9‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 3:40 PM, matmacwc said:

Even the Goldman Sachs Elevator (GSE, google it for hours of entertainment) guy makes a comment that late bloomers aren't really welcome, unless you were military. Specifically he says fighter pilot, but you get the idea.

 

On ‎9‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 8:20 PM, nsplayr said:

The book by the GSE Elevator guy is really hilarious, highly recommend.

Thanks for point out, I haven't laughed that hard in a while. I thought this was one of the best quotes:

"Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools."

He didn't credit the source, so I had to look it up. Go figure, a fighter pilot said it...

Sir Douglas Bader, a WWII RAF ace. It is also sometimes attributed to Harry Day, also of the RAF.

More importantly, I wish we had leaders who understood this quote.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would take a little time and commitment to get your PhD but the life of an academic is pretty nice. I didn't have the option to do the airline gig when I got out of the AF and to be honest I wasn't sure what was in store for me. I ended up going to Vandy and getting my MBA and then working in industry for four years before I decided sitting in an office all day was not my cup of tea. I then decided to go to Pitt and get my PhD (business with emphasis in information systems and telecommunications) and haven't looked back. If accepted to a decent PhD program, you will receive free tuition and a living stipend. The stipend isn't much but is usually in the $1500 to $1800 a month range. If you have the GI bill available, it would probably be livable for the 3 to 4 years you are on campus.

If you choose a business discipline your pay will start minimally in the low 100,000 range, even at regional state universities. Most other disciplines (even engineering) pays lower than the main business disciplines of accounting, management, information systems(including analytics), economics, finance, marketing, etc. So, you won't become super wealthy, but the work life balance is outstanding and the pay is very livable. I chose to move back home to middle TN where the cost of living is pretty low and weather is mild. Even with the research requirements of academia there is little work related pressure (I am at a regional state school and not a top tier research university) and plenty of time to pursue outside interests. At a top research school there is more pressure to publish at top rated journals so the stress levels would be higher. If you are willing to spend the 4 years earning your PhD it is a great gig and while college students at times will drive you crazy, they also keep you challenged and motivated to not lag behind on current events and current technology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Kenny Powers said:

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

Walmart greeter. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

Sim instructor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Kenny Powers said:

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

ATAC adversary pilot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, JeremiahWeed said:

ATAC adversary pilot?

Not generally available as a full time position, day rates are not that competitive (compared to some of the nicer part91/91k equipment), and not a true homesteading gig either. But sure, it is an option post-retirement just as any of the ones offered on this thread already.

The thing for me is that, AD retirement is not enough take home to really rely on "gig" work in order to make it to the finish line of retirement income replacement of 75% of an O-5 take home in peak earning years. You need another supra-six-figure career destination with retirement vehicles to match, in order to truly replace that purchasing power. Mil retirement is truly a lot smaller than is marketed.

Edited by hindsight2020

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, ihtfp06 said:


Sim instructor

yup, if you can stomach the location. Big non-starter for many of these gigs. Same deal with the federal flying positions currently available out there. Location is a big sticking point for most. if not a limfac then I would agree, certainly an option that meets the hours and homesteading criteria of the OP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

My plan is to be a really good gambler. Primarily poker and sports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stay-at-home, trophy husband. That’s my plan. We will see what my wife says.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/22/2017 at 6:40 PM, Kenny Powers said:

So what if you don't want to go to the airlines or get a PhD, want to be home every night, and don't want to work 16 hours a day? Fighter type with engineering degree/experience.

Same boat, defense consulting, real estate or a sim job is what I'm looking at.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, matmacwc said:

Same boat, defense consulting, real estate or a sim job is what I'm looking at.

Every consultant I know (not all defense guys), spends more time on airliners and in hotels than I do as an airline guy.  On the upside, you'll get to rock your polo/khaki/loafer/lanyard getup, hanging out in squadron bars all over the US.  With a 20 year pension, I would opt for the sim job and do real estate on the side.  You can continue to relive the glory days of when you used to be a fighter pilot, but still have a nice supplemental income.  As long as there is a sim in your desired location, sim jobs seem super chill, with good work hours and decent money.  Supplementing it with real estate is a smart choice in case the sims go away or if there is any amount of lengthy downtime (ref. Burlington sims).  It seems like most sim facilities have part time options, being able to transition to part time would be nice if the real estate side took off.     

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/23/2017 at 7:53 PM, hindsight2020 said:

yup, if you can stomach the location. Big non-starter for many of these gigs. Same deal with the federal flying positions currently available out there. Location is a big sticking point for most. if not a limfac then I would agree, certainly an option that meets the hours and homesteading criteria of the OP.

Unless you're an airline sim instructor. That can be a great deal if you live in base. Home every night, six hour days, good pay. Heard a rumor highest paid airline guy is a WB sim IP. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, ChkHandleDn said:

Unless you're an airline sim instructor.  That can be a great deal if you live in base. Home every night, six hour days, good pay.  Heard a rumor highest paid airline guy is a WB sim IP. 

This!  They have a damn good schedule if they live in base.  They're supposed to go fly the line every couple months, but training is so busy, many haven't flown in 7+ months.  Based on listening to a few WB Capt instructors talk about how many extra sims they're picking up, I'm guessing many of our WB Captain instructors are easily up over 500k in total compensation (with some well above that).  Not bad for being home almost every night.  

Edited by SocialD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/26/2017 at 4:14 PM, SocialD said:

This!  They have a damn good schedule if they live in base.  They're supposed to go fly the line every couple months, but training is so busy, many haven't flown in 7+ months.  Based on listening to a few WB Capt instructors talk about how many extra sims they're picking up, I'm guessing many of our WB Captain instructors are easily up over 500k in total compensation (with some well above that).  Not bad for being home almost every night.  

 

I was under the impression that not all airlines run their sim jobs by plucking from their active line pilot list, plenty subcontracting and non-line-pilot employees abound in these jobs. Which is another way of saying: not all airline sim jobs are paid as well as those done by seniority list pilots (aka United).

I know United sim jobs are done by listed pilots, but I thought DL/AA/SW didn't? I know FDX sim guys are are not line pilots nor paid anywhere near what their pilots do. The schedules are homesteading for sure, but plenty of 2am box times abound these days, so schedules are not exactly cake.

At any rate, not disagreeing, but not all airline sim jobs are as lucrative as the United guys for instance. I suppose for those in the know, would you mind listing which airlines use their line pilots and which doesn't? Because the pay gap is significant between these jobs, at times as much a difference as the gap between what FFD and mainline pilots get paid. And to be pedantic, if you gotta get hired as a pilot to apply for a sim job, technically you did go to the airlines, so it doesn't exactly go with the spirit of the thread, I digress.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/26/2017 at 7:29 AM, ChkHandleDn said:

Heard a rumor highest paid airline guy is a WB sim IP. 

When you "hear a rumor" relating to things that affect airline pilots, get the name of the flight attendant that told you.  

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's be realistic. Your chance of leaving the Air Force and landing a lucrative job as airline sim instructor with little or no 121 experience is near zero.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know plenty of folks at Delta that made it to the training department in two years or less.  Some civ some mil.

2020, Delta uses primarily seniority list pilots.  But also has some non seniority guys as well.   Seniority list instructors get paid at the highest FO seat they can hold.  Today that means they all make 777 FO pay, guarantee 85 hours a month.  Most guys I know are hitting 100 hours...~20k/month.   As of late Delta has been having trouble getting enough instructors, going as far as to have recruiting booths in pilot lounges.  I'd guess its the short Capt upgrade times, don't know for sure.  You can now get hired to teach in a plane you've never flown.

But it is an airline job.  And while I know people who have hid in the training dept for years and years, at some point you're probably going to have the fly the line.  Well, I guess you could go into some form of management.

I have trouble believing the highest paid guy at DL is a Sim IP. Just based on what I see some of the super senior guys pulling off on the line.  But I've been wrong before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2020, not ALL FDX sim instructors are line guys, but a lot are. It's a pretty good deal, BUT you have to be ok with living in a Memphis suburb. (Or commute to fly the sim). They only have to work the same amount of days as a pilot on reserve, so 16 or 19 depending on the month, so definitely not a bad gig if you live there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, hindsight2020 said:

I was under the impression that not all airlines run their sim jobs by plucking from their active line pilot list, plenty subcontracting and non-line-pilot employees abound in these jobs. Which is another way of saying: not all airline sim jobs are paid as well as those done by seniority list pilots (aka United).

What sputnik said below.  Agreed about the spirit of the thread, I was simply responding to a post.  Given that most people don't realize that there are decent gigs at the airlines, that are available to very junior pilots and keep you home a lot, I thought it was worth mentioning.  I've been here for < 3 years and there are around 40 sim instructors that are junior to me.  My sim partner, another FO at the 2 year point, and I were asked if we'd be interested in applying for sim IP jobs, when we went through 330 school earlier this year.  There are other lucrative gigs available, and currently going fairly junior, that are more office type jobs, if that's your thing.  However, I'll leave that to PMs or the other thread, so as not to derail this thread any further.  I'm actually enjoying reading about the other gigs guys are rolling into.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×