Impact on Career Earnings, Pay and Seniority
Airlines operate on a system based on seniority, or a “rank for pilot scheduling as well as companywide Human Resources. Pilots who’ve been employed with an airline the longest have the highest seniority, while newly hired pilots have the lowest. Seniority affects scheduling, pay, quality of life and career advancement. Each of these flight training routes have an effect on seniority.
To reap the benefits of pilot seniority, you’ll want to begin training as quickly as possible. A career-track accelerated flight program can get you to the airlines sooner, so you’ll be able to increase your rank faster than if you went the pay-as-you-go route. Not only that, but seniority can also be powerful at the endo f your career when your earning power is its highest, so each year earlier to the airlines can increase total career earnings significantly.
While it may seem as though obtaining an R-ATP with a degree is quicker due to the lower hour requirements at 1,000 or 1,250 hours, it actually takes twice as long as students have to graduate either an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree. The lesser amount of flight hours might seem like a quicker path, but this tradeoff is not equal, as students are often compromising a handful of months of flight hours they amass as a salaried CFI for two more years of degree studying. This not only adds time for them to start their career but also costs more money and lowers their airline seniority.
A pay-as-you-go training program may take longer to complete as it works around a students’ schedule and availability, it can have a negative impact on getting to an airline and building seniority. The longer it takes for you to finish your training, the lower seniority you will have at the airline throughout your career.