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Old 17.07.2015, 07:41
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Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

Hello everyone! I currently study Computer science at the ETH and have finished my first Bachelor year (for what it's worth, I'm 20). However, because of the hell involved in moving from Sweden (due to which I missed out on a lot in school), I am unlikely to pass the first-year exams (die Basisprüfung) and would then have to redo the whole year.


Last month, for fun, I tried applying for an education+employment as a pilot at SWISS. To my tremendous surprise, SWISS have now given me an offer.
I did not at all count on this and now have a vital decision to make.

Should I decline and continue my education in computer science at the ETH, or should I accept this offer of a career I used to fantasise about for long in my lower teens?
Quite honestly, I don't know.
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Old 17.07.2015, 08:00
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

Double check the Swiss offer...as you are also at ETH I assume your German is quite good as it's also a requirement for the pilot training.

I say double check the offer and go thru it very carefully and confirm everything even if you have the smallest question ... because the HR dept is well known to be useless. I know 4 people that had offers that were false/ had conditions changed " Oh we made a mistake"
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Old 17.07.2015, 08:08
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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Double check the Swiss offer...as you are also at ETH I assume your German is quite good as it's also a requirement for the pilot training.

I say double check the offer and go thru it very carefully and confirm everything even if you have the smallest question ... because the HR dept is well known to be useless. I know 4 people that had offers that were false/ had conditions changed " Oh we made a mistake"
If I wasn't fully proficient in the language I wouldn't be here (in order to get admitted to the ETH, I had to sumbit a C2 certificate before leaving Sweden)
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Old 17.07.2015, 08:38
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

Just went through it and it's unconditional. If I accept I will be enrolled in an 18-month course, and then I'm in.


But, the big question is: would it be in my best interests to opt for this?...
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Old 17.07.2015, 08:41
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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Just went through it and it's unconditional. If I accept I will be enrolled in an 18-month course, and then I'm in.


But, the big question is: would it be in my best interests to opt for this?...


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Old 17.07.2015, 08:45
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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Just went through it and it's unconditional. If I accept I will be enrolled in an 18-month course, and then I'm in.


But, the big question is: would it be in my best interests to opt for this?...
This is a question only you can answer. Bear in mind being a pilot may seem a romantic career, but sadly you are in reality a very disciplined bus driver. There is no room for creativity, long hours and irregular hours. It's something I looked at many years ago and concluded it was actually going to be a boring career...
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Old 17.07.2015, 08:58
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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Just went through it and it's unconditional. If I accept I will be enrolled in an 18-month course, and then I'm in.


But, the big question is: would it be in my best interests to opt for this?...
That's why I mentioned the language as you wouldn't be the first to be offered a position then have it withdrawn as HR "forgot" that point

You would be going in for the airbus 320 family or the c series.. 95% 320 though. As said it's a glorified bus driver with autopilot engaged 5 secs after weight off wheels. Later on if you can upgrade you get the long haul flights.. hope you like night shifts?

Otherwise it's unsocial hours just the same as shift work.

However i must say swiss pilots are absolutely pampered and wrapped in cotton wool compared to other companies so you will be looked after.

The bonus is a nice salary and some travel and of course a trolley dolly girlfriend.. pilot and trolley dolly is an industry standard btw
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If I wasn't fully proficient in the language I wouldn't be here (in order to get admitted to the ETH, I had to sumbit a C2 certificate before leaving Sweden)
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Old 17.07.2015, 09:12
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The big question is: what are my prospects for the long term future if I finish my Bachelor's in computing, or even go on to take a Master's and possibly PhD?


Vs. if I choose to opt for this (basically) set career now?


One can discuss the "status" of various qualifications and professions until the end of time - at the end of the day, what I want is a good foundation for a stable life. (btw, for what it's worth, marriage and family won't happen in my case and thus aren't a factor)

(by "stable" I mean financially. I don't mind a hectic and dynamic Environment if it pays off in the Long run)

Last edited by 3Wishes; 17.07.2015 at 16:32. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 17.07.2015, 09:31
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

Hmmm...Either hands on career, or investment in edu. I would always suggest the latter. Hands on career, you cash in fast but you get bored equally fast. What may be appealing at 20, may not suffice at all at 30 (esp of your dreams are as ambitious as advanced degrees you mentioned), to start retraining at 30 is harder then. Investing in one's head might be demotivating now, when you slacked in the 1st year...but you know, most students feel that way 1st at uni, whether they passed or not. I dropped out and restarted a year later but a double degree with 2 jobs on a side, a load I managed on my own as suited, it worked really well for antsy me.

I'd say stick to edu, tough it out and soon enroll paralelly in a hands on apprenticeship as soon as studies allow. You gain practical experience you may be craving now while also get a solid academic degree.
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Old 17.07.2015, 09:43
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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This is a question only you can answer. Bear in mind being a pilot may seem a romantic career, but sadly you are in reality a very disciplined bus driver. There is no room for creativity, long hours and irregular hours. It's something I looked at many years ago and concluded it was actually going to be a boring career...
I came to the same conclusion about 25 years ago, and that's when you could still fly the aircraft as opposed to being mostly a systems manager which what it is today.

That said it's something that not an awful lot of people get a chance to do.
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Old 17.07.2015, 09:56
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

Just going by what I read in the presse, the analogy of a glorified bus driver seems quite appropriate.

As a pilot, you're limited to piloting. If you do long hauls, you'll be hopping from city to city a lot of the time, which is typically very detrimental to family life. And of course there is the question of salary, check out this article (in german, sorry), and do note that SWISS are trying to lower the upper bounds - this pressure is virtually guaranteed to continue.

With an ETH degree you have much more options, in computer sciences field alone, and switching to a different field would probably doable, too.

I think the two don't really compare. However, if piloting is your dream - YOLO.
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Old 17.07.2015, 10:16
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

The minimum figures in the article are totally incorrect... its much much higher.
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Old 17.07.2015, 10:21
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

Firstly, Family life is of no relevance as I'm not interested in establishing one.


Also, I have read the article (I read the Aargauer every day) and 4861 for a newbie isn't that Little, is it? (how many % tax do you pay here?)


That said, one thing that does discourage this path is that, as you said, it's much city-hopping, as well as the fact that I would end up without anything beyond my Swedish Matura. One question: how much time do you actually get to spend in the cities between flights?
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Old 17.07.2015, 11:29
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

dude. go fly.
quit after a few years at the airline and fly airshows in ww2 planes

computer science easy to get into if pilot training fails, vice versa not.
work = work. airline pilot probably boring. computer science career for sure (rat race).
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Old 17.07.2015, 11:33
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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But, the big question is: would it be in my best interests to opt for this?...
Frankly, I don't want to be a passenger in a plane where the pilot is not sure whether he likes his job or not. You either are passionate about aviation or you are not. Easy. Now get your bag ready for school and don't talk to strangers on the way.
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Old 17.07.2015, 11:40
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

My sister used to work for emirates. If the flight was up to 4-5 hours they did not stay at all and flew back immediately. For lomger flights they stayed about 24 hours most of the time and in very very rare occasions up to 36 (in one year she never had this rare occasion)

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Firstly, Family life is of no relevance as I'm not interested in establishing one.


Also, I have read the article (I read the Aargauer every day) and 4861 for a newbie isn't that Little, is it? (how many % tax do you pay here?)


That said, one thing that does discourage this path is that, as you said, it's much city-hopping, as well as the fact that I would end up without anything beyond my Swedish Matura. One question: how much time do you actually get to spend in the cities between flights?
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Old 17.07.2015, 11:41
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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as well as the fact that I would end up without anything beyond my Swedish Matura. One question: how much time do you actually get to spend in the cities between flights?
You'll have an ATPL.

Short haul, no time at all, fly in - 40 minute turn around -fly out. If you are lucky you might get a night stop but you arrive late at night and take the aircraft back out first thing in the morning.

However, do you short haul time and you can move on to long haul... the flying becomes more boring (only one take off and landing a day, the rest it's on auto pilot)... but then you get days at your destination.
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Old 17.07.2015, 11:43
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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Firstly, Family life is of no relevance as I'm not interested in establishing one.


Also, I have read the article (I read the Aargauer every day) and 4861 for a newbie isn't that Little, is it? (how many % tax do you pay here?)


That said, one thing that does discourage this path is that, as you said, it's much city-hopping, as well as the fact that I would end up without anything beyond my Swedish Matura. One question: how much time do you actually get to spend in the cities between flights?
Short haul euro flights.. occasional night stop. Long haul Eg sao paulo 2 nights , soon reduced to 1 night, but others vary 1-2nights. But you won't go straight to long haul. You will be doing about 6-8 flights a day with a 30-45 min turnaround stop between so you will get a view of the terminal building.


Ref family... lots of bed hopping going on during night stops straight and gay included
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Old 17.07.2015, 12:06
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

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Ref family... lots of bed hopping going on during night stops straight and gay included
No need to do the full pilot training for that, just download the right apps.
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Old 17.07.2015, 12:08
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Re: Continue at ETH or become pilot at SWISS?

The 18 month training is a contract. During the training you do not get paid and you MUST work the following 2 years for them full time, after that you can consider either working part time or finding another airline.

You will start as first officer on short flights, mostly with the A320. Since they are renewing their short haul float you more than likely will also receive training for the C-Series.

Consider it the same way I did ( I also had to decide between Computer science and pilot): for the first 5 years it will be "fun" you might even get promoted to captain or first officer for long haul flights, but after that, unless it is really a passion for you, it will be monotonous. Ten minutes of real piloting, engage auto-pilot, from 30 min to 14 hours of sitting and controlling a computer, 10 minutes of real piloting to land.
In IT, again depends on what you are more passionate, you will make use of everything you learnt during school plus you will have to continuously learn and update your knowledge. Depending on which sector you land you may do a lot of engineering, designing, planing, t-shooting and configuring or investigate new technologies.

Salary: as a pilot during the first 4 to 6 years you won't earn much. Afterwards, depending on your range, amount of hours and experience and/or if you get a job as a captain you might see a considerable increase. Some budget airline pilots (easyjet, ryanair etc) don't get paid that much. In IT it is more linear, every year that passes will 98% sure give you more experience, more experience in IT = more money, as simple as that. If you finish your Computer science bachelor by lets say 24, by the time you are 35, you will already have a senior salary, which in most of europe will be at least 2 to 3 times the average salary.


Sit down and think of what really makes you passionate! Make a pros and cons list for both careers and think where do you see yourself in 10 years.

That's what I did, and I am now a happy engineer
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