Job Hunting Tips

Dos and Don’ts for Aspiring Ag Pilots on the Job Trail

While there are no guarantees, your chances of finding work and learning the craft of becoming a professional ag pilot will improve if you follow this advice.

DO: Join NAAA and the state or regional ag aviation association in your area. Membership has its privileges. It shows that you are serious, for one, and grants you access to valuable resources like NAAA’s Annual Membership Directory. Whether you are a pilot looking for a seat or an operator looking for a pilot, NAAA’s directory offers a wealth of nationwide contacts and resources.

DON’T: Come across as opportunistic. Asking right off the bat how much money you can make as an ag pilot leaves a bad taste in the mouths of operators.

DO: Come across as humble and hungry at the same time. As operator Stan Jones put it, “I had one call [last] summer. The man’s attitude was fantastic. ‘I don’t know anything. I’ll come work for you; I’ll do whatever it takes.’ I hired him.”

DON’T: Underestimate the importance of on-the-job training. If someone gives you the chance to get your foot in the door, think twice before turning it down, even if you consider it an inferior position. For instance, an operator may ask you to pay your dues for a year or two as member of the ground crew to learn the ag side of the business. The pay won’t be great, but the experience will be invaluable.

DO: Register as a pilot looking for work on NAAA’s website. You must be a member to be listed on the website.

DON’T: Miss the Compaass Rose & 'Ask the Expert' Speed Mentoring events at NAAA's and other conventions across the country. NAAA created these events to advise new pilots and people interested in getting into the industry.

DO: Attend NAAA’s Ag Aviation Expo and conventions held by state and regional ag aviation associations. These are golden networking and learning opportunities.

DON’T: Get discouraged. You knew you weren’t going to land a seat overnight, but chances are it’s going to take longer than you think to catch your big break. Author Seth Godin refers to that period when you’ve experienced your seventh or eighth rejection as The Dip, that “long slog between starting and mastery.” In his book “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick),” Godin advises, “Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.”