Retiring Pilots Transition into Corporate/Charter Pilot Jobs: Expert Advice


Business people shaking hands.Industry-wide, pilot hiring is up. So are retirements. Many pilots transitioning from the military, meeting the FAA age limit or taking an early incentive to leave their current airline are not totally ready to hang up their headsets or read their last checklist.

For these pilots, charter and corporate aviation is a great alternative. Part 135, 91/91K flight departments are looking for mature and experienced pilots that will represent their company in a professional manner. In fact, many companies view retiring pilots as an asset since they bring experience, leadership, CRM training, and their years of formal flight training. To follow up last year’s article Pilots Retiring from Commercial Airlines find Big Opportunities as Contract Pilots, aviation HR expert Angie Marshall shared her insights for retiring pilots looking to transition into corporate and charter pilot jobs.

  • Start networking before you retire. Don’t wait to look for a job. The best time to get your name out there is when you are surrounded by people in the industry. Start putting feelers out about 6-9 months before your last flight with your current company. Look at job postings new and old to gain insight into employer activities, the industry and your own job prospects in your geography of interest. Be sure to follow the Blog for corporate aviation job tips, tricks and resources, and our Corporate Flight Departments Employer News column to keep aware of new trends and developments in the industry. Or, give us a call to gain additional insights into a company you are researching. Use our Corporate Flight Departments Directory to find contact information for Chief Pilots at companies you are interested in.
  • Get your resume updated. Corporate flight departments know that you have thousands of hours of flight time, but you still have to prove it. If you do not have your logbooks up-to-date, get a flight time print out from your current company. If you are going to a more local or laid-back charter or corporate flight department, this may not be necessary but we still recommend it. It’s always better to be prepared. offers free pilot cover letter examples, pilot resume templates, and sample pilot resumes. For more information and to download, click here or give us a call today.
  • List your dates of employment. Some retiring pilots are unsure about listing dates of employment with former employer(s) on their resume. We think it is always a good idea to list them. By omitting your dates of employment from your resume, you can actually draw attention to the concern over your age. HR specialists, recruiters and interviewers see a lot of resumes. They know what to look for and how to read between the lines.
  • Gone are the days when a back-slap and a hand shake would get you the job. Networking and positive referrals are a huge part of getting the job you want, but today, nine times out of ten in the corporate and charter world, you still must go through the formal interview and application protocol. Flight departments are under a great deal of pressure to hire a person that is “the right fit.” Do not go into an interview assuming that your 16,000 hours of international time as a Captain in a B-757 or 1,000 hours of combat time will automatically get you the job. These are unique qualifications and accomplishments you can be proud of, but they do not necessarily mean you are qualified for this flight department’s specific needs. So even the most seasoned pilot will need to prepare him or herself for the same line of questioning and background checks as every other pilot applying for the position.
  • List all relevant locations/aircraft flown. If you have international experience or have flown in Europe, Africa, or South America, or have time in a Citation, King Air, Gulfstream or other corporate jet, list it on your resume. This is a bonus for flight departments who have international and overseas operations. See our International Pilot Resume Example if you are applying for a job overseas.
  • Include your leadership roles. Line Check Airman, Assistant Chief Pilot, Pilot Instructor, Squadron Commander, and Hotel Coordinator are all wonderful leadership roles that need to be listed on your resume.
  • Play up your customer service skills. While important for commercial airline pilots, customer service skills are incredibly important to Part 135/91/91K operators, who often differentiate themselves based on their customer service protocols and the in-flight experience they can provide. Be sure to mention your customer service skills and any accolades that you have received from customers, employers or coworkers regarding your customer service performance.
  • Roll up your sleeves & get ready to work. Corporate and Charter Flight Departments do not necessarily distinguish between “your job” and “their job” when it comes to crew and their flight-related duties. Be sure your resume, cover letter, interview and first day on the job reflect your willingness to do everything. Once hired, you may play the role of the caterer, flight attendant, gate agent, cleaning crew, trash collector, security, baggage handler and even have a role in securing ground transportation for your passengers. Many retired pilots find this freeing, and take pride and ownership of the entire in-flight experience. Play up your ability and willingness to be a team player and to work hard.

Corporate flight departments like pilots that have years of training regardless of 121, 135, 91/91K or military experience. The concern is not the experience in the industry as a whole but in the kind of experience that one brings to the table. Currency, type ratings (especially in the aircraft the company is looking to hire into), and time spent in specific aircraft are a definite bonus.

This is not to say that this is true for all Part 135, 91/91K flight departments. In some instances, a pilot can network their way into a position in which they have little to no experience in the aircraft in which they are hired. By doing your homework and networking ahead of time, you can start gathering contacts, and make the necessary changes to improve your chances of creating a seamless transition into the next phase of your aviation career.

Ready to start preparing for Phase II of your aviation career? has an active aviation job board with many new job postings daily. We specialize in Corporate / Charter – Private Jet Aviation jobs. We know how competitive the Aviation job market is – we are dedicated to helping our Employers and Job Seekers find the perfect fit. Sign up for a 1-month, 6-month or year long subscription to our service here.

Retiring Military Pilots, get more tips in our previous post on this topic.

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