What are the Disadvantages of Being a Pilot?

For some, the responsibility of flying and navigating airplanes and other types of aircraft is a role that they have aspired to fulfill for many years. Although there are many rewarding aspects associated with becoming a pilot, there are several disadvantages too. Having an awareness of these disadvantages will allow you to assess whether this is the right job for you. 

Anti-social working hours

Pilots are required to work anti-social hours and this often means spending a lot of time away from home and missing out on special family events such as birthdays and graduations etc.

As you can imagine, for some this is a difficult prospect. Your working hours can also differ weekly. One week your schedule may consist of daytime flights, and the next week your flights may be departing at night. This makes it difficult to establish a routine. 

There is also a risk that relationships at home may be negatively impacted by your irregular and often changing schedules and the amount of time that you are likely to spend away from home.

The training is expensive

Although airline pilots are known to have a high salary, the initial costs can be expensive. The cost of attending flight school is expensive and may exceed the funds of some aspiring pilots.

You will also require a commercial pilot license and it is beneficial to get a type rating too. Again, these incur additional costs that you may not have been expecting. Although your salary will increase as your experience develops, to begin, you will earn a lower salary.

Experience determines flight routines

Many aspects of your career will be based upon seniority. For example, as a junior pilot, you are likely to work on holidays such as Christmas, etc.

Decisions regarding aircraft and schedules are also determined by experience. Because of this, you will need to work extremely hard in your role to reach a senior level. Should you decide to change companies, you will lose any seniority that you have gained and will have to start the process again with low seniority.

The responsibility can be stressful

For many, the responsibility of the passengers can be very overwhelming. From the moment the flight takes off, you are in charge of ensuring that the flight lands safely at the destination and although the prospect of flying the aircraft can be exciting, it can be nerve-wracking too.

Medical issues can affect your career

There may be instances where you are unable to work due to poor health and this can affect your career. Pilots must have a first-class medical certificate before they are permitted to fly so if you are ill for any reason you will not be able to fly.

If you don’t regain your first-class medical certificate, or your illness worsens it is likely that you will lose your job as a result.

Night flights can result in sleep issues

Regular changes in your schedule can affect your sleep routine. Night-time flights can often create a lot of fatigue which over time may escalate into a possible sleeping disorder.

For example, a schedule of flights that will be departing at night and arriving at the destination the following morning will cause a great deal of disruption to your sleeping pattern.

Why should you not be a pilot?

Becoming a pilot may still be a career ambition for many, despite the disadvantages that we have listed above. Of course, as with any job, there are advantages associated with the role that counteract the disadvantages, so you may wish to proceed with a career as a pilot regardless.

For those who remain hesitant as to whether becoming a pilot is the right career for them, we have identified some reasons why you may wish to reconsider.

For some, the task may become repetitive and rather boring. Whilst flying aircraft is a huge responsibility, the initial enthusiasm displayed by a newly qualified pilot, may begin to wear off as you become accustomed to repeating the same processes daily. Essentially, over time, it may not provide you with the challenge that you desire.

The appeal of the role to many aspiring pilots lies in the prospect of being able to explore the locations that you fly to. However, this is unlikely to be the case as pilots typically spend their time in these different countries catching up on sleep and resting before returning to the aircraft for the flight home.

As we have mentioned previously, you will also be required to spend a lot of time away from home, which may mean that you miss out on important celebrations, and generally spending time with family and those close to you.

There may also be occasions where you spend a couple of days in the country at which you have flown to which means that you can’t just go home to visit when you want to.