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Home > Becoming a Pilot > A stressful doctor wishes to become a pilot...
A stressful doctor wishes to become a pilot...
Pilot Career - Becoming a Pilot
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 08:05

Hi Capt Lim,

I was browsing through a few websites when I stumbled upon yours. I have always been interested in becoming a pilot.

Currently, I'm working as a doctor in one of the government hospital with a lot of work and under tremendous stress. I can't stand the stress anymore. I feel like quitting this job and getting into the aviation industry as a pilot with good salary and frequent travels to a lot of places.

For me, being a pilot is a fantastic job. I really want to leave the medical profession.

Capt Lim, what's your advice on this? I really appreciate your opinion in guiding me to choose the right path.

Thank you in advance.


Hi Faiq,

I have also written quite a bit on this topic to a number of professionals in the past. All think flying is a fun job with little stresses and very well paid.  For some, it's the perfect job - an office that travels. Perhaps, the grass is always greener on the other side! To a certain extent, it may be true but don't be so easily sold by this perception...  

Whilst there are the good things, there are also the down sides. Yes, flying is fun - only on clear and sunny days. On bad weather days and especially when coupled with an emergency - you have to work your guts out when you have to think of the many lives at the back in the cabin.

It is a job that takes more focus and dedication than most others in this world; there are lots of checks on your occupational skills to ensure that you can continue to fly your passengers safely in all sorts of conditions.

As a doctor you need not have to get yourself re-qualified every 6 months. Many other professions don't need to go through this legal hurdle but pilots do. Also, if you mess up your test, you need to retake it and it is a blemish on your records for future promotions.  

Yes, flying is a career of compromises in terms of where you live, the plane you fly - long haul or short haul and the money you would make against your quality of life. If you can balance all these, then you would not be disillusioned by your dream.

The other dark sides of the profession - being away most weekends and holidays wear some down after a while. This is not to mention that you may miss your kids' birthdays, friends' wedding, etc, (but properly planned, this could be overcome with swapping of duties)

Generally, senior airline captains (A380, B747, B777, A340/330) at major airlines make fat pay (upwards of US$250,000 a year in the USA and the developed World). At the other end of the pay scale, some pilots for small airlines do not make that kind of money. Most salaries are 25 to 40 % lower. It all depends on your position, the aircraft type, airline size and seniority with that airline.

You said, pilot's job is a fantastic one - truly, it is an equally stressful one but most of them wouldn't be as happy doing anything else. Yes, there are also the minority who would not recommend the pilot profession to anyone who could not stand all the dark sides of the job. These are the ones who started off very proud, excited, enthusiastic but found the life less than exciting in the end.

For me, I love the life. I have a happy family despite being on the long haul for a while and I have seen the world. It has not made me rich like a 'millionaire' but I could afford most things that I wanted. What more could I ask for?

Now you can make your choice...


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Comments (4)

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reply to james
Hi I'm a family physician, used to be a surgeon with PPL - my advice to you james is go for the pilot route if you are still young enough. I am going to do my ATPL in the next 1-2 years and aim to fly coroporate jets around my career as a family doctor/aviation physician. I do not think you will regret your decision if you decide to become a pilot.
michael , 12 Jan, 2010
i've been a PhD for about 2 years. i also want to become a pilot.
mark , 16 Apr, 2010
hi james, i just finished my medical school and want to take the first step to be a pilot coz i hate medicine and adore aviation, knowing am not rich, what should i do ?
kareem , 23 Mar, 2012

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