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How much time do you get to spend at home with your family?

If I want to become a pilot will I still be able to spend a lot of time with my family? How many days do you at home get between flights. Do pilots have breaks like in school for example winter break, summer break. and holidays. Do you have to go to college or is it some type of flight school. Finally, how long do you have to go to school for?

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Ishtiaq’s Answer

Hello Dylan
1- You have to join a Flight School to become a Pilot, a college or university degree is an added advantage for getting into Airline jobs.
2- Obtaining a Commercial Pilot License may take anywhere between 9 months to over one year (or more) depending on your finance availability, regularity in getting training and passing the local/ FAA Examinations and Flight checks.
3- There are no planned winter/ summer vacations
during Flight School training, if you take breaks it will prolong your training period.
4- As an employee of any organization or an Airline you will get adequate rest periods between flights and “off days” at your “home base” as per FAA regulations and yearly earned vacation as per company policies.
A pilots job does require at times to work odd hours (night flights or long international tours with time zone changes) and one has to be mentally ready to accept that.
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Kathleen’s Answer

A job as a pilot is one that gets better with time. It is generally true that your airline seniority dictates your schedule. The longer you are there the more opportunity you have toward a good schedule of your choosing. At first most pilots start out on a reserve schedule. You will get days "on call" or days off. The days you are on call you will get a time frame at which you have to be "reachable" by the airline for them to call you to come work a flight or trip. When you are assigned a flight you generally have 2 hours to get to the airport to work it. Once you gain more seniority you will be able to "hold a line" where you get a set schedule with specific trips built into the month. Those trips will generally range from 1 to 4 days and you will get a guaranteed amount of days off, usually around 11-12.

That being said, not all pilot jobs are equal or have the same scheduling pattern. For example, if your goal is to be an airline pilot and want to stay home with your family, Allegiant is an airline where the crew is home every night in their base after flying throughout the day. Hawaiian airlines, if based in Honolulu, has a similar schedule for their crew members flying the B717, they will be in base every night. As for most other airlines you will get a monthly schedule consisting of a variety of trip lengths. As your seniority increases you can even trade your trips around. Some people choose to trade all long trips for short ones so that they are home more often. If you don't want to work for the airlines there are corporate or private companies that have on call scheduling where you may be guaranteed weeks off at a time.

Usually flying is busier during the holidays and summer so it falls back to how "senior" you are in order to "hold" holidays off. Currently at my regional airline, I am able to fly several trips a month, hold about 14 days off, and because I work with the recruiting team I work a few days in the training center each month which also gives me more time at home those days. However, the job includes travel so traveling to popular beach locations in the summer, for example, is always fun!

Additionally, the airlines no longer require a college degree but it is always a competitive advantage to have the degree and the experience that comes a long with it. If you go to a college with a part 141 flight school program and aviation degree program you currently only need 1000 hours of flight time to get hired by an airline. If you go to a part 61 flight school which is similar has a different structure, you need 1500 hours of flight time to get hired by the airlines (and qualify for an airline transport pilot certificate). I'd say the route pilots take is about 50/50 split between those two options. Personally I went to college separately and got my pilot certificates through part 61 schools and then was a flight instructor for a few years before getting hired by the airlines.

Some airlines have training programs now where you can receive flight training, gain experience, and get a guaranteed interview or job at their airline. I know that was a lot of information. I hope it helps!
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Melody’s Answer

Hi Dylan,
I am not a pilot nor work in the airline industry. Matthew has the most professional answer. However, I want to give out a line of investigation for you. There are other areas that use pilots, i.e. corporations, US government, special rescue/aid organizations. Their use of pilots many effect salary/income, but they could give the balance of time with your family. Also, what is the possibility of running your own shuttle flight service? This is a business, so there are many things to think about and research, but this is another avenue of creating your own work/family time balance. Keep researching.
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Matthew’s Answer

Time off depends on one word: Seniority (how long you ha e worked at the company). The longer you work there, the more options you have for time off/vacation.
No, you do not automatically get school vacations off. In fact, you'll probably be asked to fly during that time. When you are senior enough you will be able to hold the time off.
Typically you will have min 12 days off min. Your seniority will drive what those days are. Starts with mid-weeks off first.
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Bhavna’s Answer

Yes, pilots generally have plenty of time to spend with family. Most pilots get two days off between flights, so they would be able to spend a good amount of time with their families most weeks. Pilots, like most other jobs, are usually granted time off for holidays throughout the year, such as Christmas and New Year's Day. Pilots also tend to get additional time off around summer and winter holidays. Depending on the airline and type of flying the pilot does, pilots tend to get either two weeks of vacation or about 10 days of vacation, per year.
Most airlines require you to have a four-year college degree, typically with a degree in a related field such as aviation, engineering or science. However, if you're only interested in flying commercially, there are many FAA-approved flight schools that offer degree programs that can also qualify you to fly professionally.
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