Considering a career change from aviation to finance

Discussion in 'Professional Trading' started by AirborneTrader, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. Hello,

    I'd really appreciate some advice as I have a lot to consider. I'll try and keep it short. I'm a corporate pilot, been flying for over 16 years. It's been an amazing ride but the work conditions in my business keep deteriorating. It's been a lot of fun but being constantly on the road is taking its toll. I'm never home and have not had a designated day off in 5 years. I'm flying more than ever and see no light at the end of the tunnel. No real job stability and I have no career backup. While my passion for this industry is long gone I am very passionate about trading. I've long had an interest in the markets. I trade actively and enjoy studying and learning about it, the markets and economics.

    I'm considering leaving aviation and going back to University to finish a bachelor in Finance. And complete any necessary further education such as a Masters or financial certifications. By the time I complete my education and would start looking for work I'd likely be around 43 years old. Going from a jet captain with a comfy lifestyle back to school will be a huge hit, but I increasingly feel that I may need to do this. I have a few questions whose answers could be real helpful as I consider this:

    1) I love the markets. I love to trade. I like to strategize and analyse. With that in mind what are some specific jobs in finance that I should consider shooting for. Portfolio manager? Market strategist? Financial analyst? A good one for the long run.

    2) Any advice considering I'd be new to the business in my early 40s. I assume age is no factor, competence is. But if you have any opinions I'd appreciate it.

    3) Any suggestions on the education that I'll require. A bachelor as a minimum, I expect that I'll need a masters plus some specialty certifications. I like economics but seems like finance is the way to go. I prefer practical vs theoretical.

    4) Does the ranking of the University matter in the end? I'm in Canada. I'm hoping to do it at the University of Toronto, Canada's best business school. However scheduling and costs may mean I have to do it at an average school.

    5) For those in the business.. What do you find the job satisfaction in the long run is? I can tell you in my business it's low. This career is awesome in the beginning but it slowly grinds at you. Especially as you get older and you can't be there for your family. I know many that have left and are happier for it.

    I'd appreciate any suggestions. Especially regarding which specific job to shoot for for someone that simply loves the markets. Thank you in advance!!! And happy trading!
    qxr1011 likes this.
  2. just21


    Go part time. One week on one week off.
  3. rmorse

    rmorse Sponsor

    You can look into an executive MBA program. My Brother in law did one at Columbia University. I know NYU has one too. You go to school all day Friday and every other Saturday. This would enable you to continue to work, just lighter hours. I assume they have that in Canada too.

    As to your focus, that is up to you. I would not focus on trading as a career. I would be interested in Risk and compliance, but that is me.
  4. A very courageous decision! The both domains are very risky. I'll advice you to have a good "theory package" before start trading.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2016
  5. K-Pia


    Wow. Avation. So cool. Trade a bit. Make millions. But keep flying.
  6. rmorse

    rmorse Sponsor

  7. Sig


    I too switched careers from pilot (military) to entrepreneur in the fintech area after getting an MBA. If you have a bachelors of any kind and want to go back to school then do an MBA. Absolutely no reason to get a BS in finance, even the top 10 MBA programs have what we called "poets" with non-quant degrees and nontraditional backgrounds and you'll be quantitatively way ahead of them. While the executive MBA idea is generally a good one, I can tell you in your case as a corporate pilot it will be next to impossible to complete one.
    Age and school rank matter a lot in some jobs and little in others. If you want to work for Goldman then you need to go to one of the top MBA programs and be younger than you are to have any reasonable shot, not necessarily fair but it's the truth. On the flip side, that job is 80 hour weeks and probably not the work-life you're looking for. In general I've found the finance world harder to break into than it should be, they very much care about both pedigree and that you paid your dues doing 80 hour weeks as an analyst or associate at some point. I had a lot better luck starting companies than getting hired, ironically those same companies that probably wouldn't have hired me as an associate now pay me significantly more to do work of at a much higher level as an independent company that does work for them. You might have slightly better luck going into VC or PE if one of them happen to be looking for aviation background for drone investments, but then again you'd be much better off just going to work for Amazon or one of the drone startups. Sorry to paint such a dismal picture, but I want to be honest with you having experienced much the same thing as you are contemplating, and I started a few years earlier and had the benefit of the right piece of paper hanging on the wall.
    I would suggest looking at the 1 year programs like the MIT Sloan and MSx at Stanford. They are built for 40 year old midcareer professionals, they only last a year, you get the benefit of getting many of the same classes and working with the MBA students, and its much easier to get admitted. I can also tell you those schools are fanatical about putting together a diverse class and they love pilots, so you would have a better shot at getting in than you might think.
    Good luck, I can tell you that its definitely possible to be very successful and have a far better work life balance after aviation, that former pilots are generally highly regarded outside aviation, and that many of the skills you've learned, like CRM and risk management, translate surprisingly well to finance.
    endicottsteel and Laissez Faire like this.
  8. rmorse

    rmorse Sponsor

    SIG makes a good point. You will have to check into what is available in Canada. Again, since I went to NYU and live in NY, I always check out NYU 1st. Some top MBA programs have tailored master degrees for professionals. Here is an example that I have checked out in the past. This one gets you a "Master of Science in Risk Management." It is a one year program. I'm sure you can find one that fits your needs.

  9. newwurldmn


    NYU has a phenominal mid career executive MBA.

    It's far better than Columbias.
  10. jo0477


    Just curious what people think about CFA as an option as opposed to an MBA? I work in ALM for a large insurance company but would like to get into the fixed income or derivatives department and have been told CFA is the way to go. I'm currently studying for my first exam and it's a lot of material but nothing ridiculously difficult so far. I'm assuming the later levels are tougher though.
    #10     Mar 19, 2016