Overseas aviation jobs – a good idea or bad?

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It’s not uncommon in the aviation industry to spend at least part of your working time abroad and for many it’s part of the appeal of our sector.  However, a dilemma that some candidates dwell over is whether or not taking a position that’s based overseas is a good idea or not.  With jobs in certain aviation sectors being globally rare, it can be really frustrating not to be able to track down your dream aviation job on home turf; but the pull of foreign shores isn’t always as appealing as some might think.  So, before heading off for an interview abroad, what are the key things you need to think about?

Cultural differences

If you choose a job in Europe or the majority of the US, you’re unlikely to suffer any significant cultural shock by taking up an aviation position abroad.  That said there are clearly countries in the world that will present cultural challenges.  No matter whether you were born in Dubai and thinking of taking a job in London or vice versa for example, you are likely to be on alert when it comes to getting your cultural p’s and q’s spot-on from day one.

All of that said, there is rarely a cultural issue that is a deal-breaker when it comes to pinning down the right job; it’s simply a case of being aware and well prepared, so make sure you do your homework.

Language issues

When it comes to language issues, ironically our nearest UK neighbours often pose some of the biggest challenges.  Only a stone’s throw from our shores, we have the French, the Germans and the Spanish, all with their own languages.  While this mightn’t be a major issue should you decide to take a job with the likes of Air France, the effects on your personal life may be further reaching.  For example, should you decide to base your career out of Paris and you have a partner and teenage kids, how will they deal with the language barrier?  In many cases, unless you’re an unattached and child-free zone, it’s the other members of the family who will be more worried than you about a move to a country where the vast majority of people speak a different language.

Although languages are relatively easy to learn, it requires a willingness and a confidence that some people struggle to muster when they’ve been uprooted, so be honest with yourselves.


Moving from A to B, even in the same country can lead to an initial feeling of loneliness and isolation.  However, when you add significant distance into the equation, these feelings can become overwhelming at times.  Normally, at work you’ll quickly find your place and make contacts but once again for partners and family, who don’t have that ready-made network, it can be tough.  Having an open mind and a strategy to help you make friends is the best way to deal with this sensitive issue.  Forcing yourself to join in; to join up (for the likes of a gym or club) and just get out and about are normally the best solutions.


The chances are, in your job, you’re used to being far away from everyone you love on a regular basis.  But until you take a position that’s based overseas, you’ll be accustomed to counting the days or hours until you get home, which is easy enough to deal with most of the time.  When you’re counting the months until you get “home”, things can be much tougher.  Unfortunately, things like serious illnesses and bereavements do happen and even when you have your feet on home soil they’re hard; but they’re even harder to deal with from abroad.  So, if you have elderly or poorly parents for example and you’re an only child, that probably needs to be factored into your decision-making process.


Having explored what could be argued as the downsides of taking an overseas aviation job, there’s no getting away from the fact that one of the major upsides is normally the rewards you get.  No matter whether it’s living in a delightful location; enjoying significantly enhanced income opportunities or just getting a chance to try somewhere new; working abroad can be great.  The only thing you need to do is think before you jump and of course enjoy it once you get there!

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