Feb 152012
Glacier Flying in Alaska

Hello fellow Flyers!

I just got back from a flight with my instrument student and I wanted to share with you a topic that came up right before the flight.  The weather was kind of dicey with broken clouds and the surface temperature 10deg C above freezing.  Rob (my student) debated whether to cancel the flight or take a risk in spending money on a flight in which we migh have to turn right back if we started to pick up any ice. 

We ended up going for about an hour long flight, popping in and out of clouds.  He learned some good lessons , but it started me thinking:

With the soaring costs of flying today, how can you plan your budget if you decide you want to become a pilot?

The short answer is: It depends.

Do you just want to get your private pilot certificate OR do you want to eventually have a career as a pilot?

If you want to become a pilot for recreational purposes, you can get your pilot’s license for anywhere from $4,000 – $10,000.  This figure varies, but it mostly depends on you.  Some people take 2-3 months, others take 2-3 years.  Obviously the longer you take, the more it’s going to cost.

If you want a career as a pilot, however, you’re going to need to spend a tad more than that.  I’m talking between $40,000 – $200,000.  That’s almost a quarter of a million dollars to become a professional pilot!

“Why such a huge range”, you ask? 

Three reasons:

1. Initial Cost of Flight training (~ $30K – $80K):  The  very, very minimum you need in order to be allowed to get paid to fly is about 250hrs of flight time.  Even if you use an average cost of $120/hr, that amounts to $30,000!  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because with only 250 hours, no one is going to hire you as a pilot.  Would you hire a pilot with only 250 hours of flight time to fly your loved ones around?  I didn’t think so.

2. Need of a College Degree (~$20K – $80K):  In today’s competative industries, no one hires without a college degree.  I know of great pilot with thousands of hours of flight time, including time in Boeing 737′s, that is working as a non-pilot because no one will hire him without a college degree.

3. Time-building Phase of a pilot’s career ($0 – $50K): No one will hire you with only 250hrs of flight time, which is what you end up with after getting all your certificates that allow you to work as a pilot.  To get those coveted pilot jobs (airline pilot, corporate pilot, cargo pilot), you will need THOUSANDS of hours of flight time.  While you don’t have to pay for these hours if you work at entry-level pilot jobs, you will be making very close to minimum wage while you build up your flight time.  These 2-10 years can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars since you will probably be taking out debt (credit cards, loans, etc.) just to make ends meet.  Additionally, unless you paid for your flight training out of pocket, you will be making payments on your student loans with thousands of dollars in interest.

So, really, the only way it makes sense to pursue a pilot career is if you don’t give up until you are making enough money to have your flight training be worth the cost.  This requires a lot of determination, passion, discipline, and a little bit of luck!

For more information on how to become a pilot, check back often for weekly posts and don’t forget to read some of my articles to the right.

Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below!

I want to know what type of pilot YOU want to be?  What are YOUR plans for financing your flight training?

  15 Responses to “How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot”

  1. i am from indian middle class iwant to complete my my pilot training cource in usa how much it may cost

  2. My wish is to become I pilot in my home country srilanka earning about 2000 000 per month how much will it cost

    • Hi,

      I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with the aviation industry in SriLanka. I’m sure there are flight schools in the area, someone will surely be willing to help you out.

  3. Hey, good night! First of all, thank you very much for all your tips, they really help me, a lot!
    So, I’m 16 years old, I live in Brazil, and my dream is to make all my aviation courses in USA, that would be PPL, CPL, IFR and multi engine (did I miss something? hehe).

    The reason is, in Brazil, I’d pay around $40.000 for the same courses, in total. And the course quality in US is almost the same, but, I’d have much more chances to get hired when I get back to Brazil, cause it’s not everyone here that has a FAA certificate, and a fluent English (the main reason why I want to go, improve my English.)

    The main problem is, I’m not rich, I can’t pay more than $55,000 in total, I also need to pay somewhere to stay, and pay my food too haha…
    I’m planning to go to US in 2015, after I turn 18!

    Do you think I can do it? Thank you so much!!! It will really help me! Thanks!!!

    • Yes, of course you can do it! $55,000 seems to be about what it would take to get all of your ratings, maybe a bit more. The key will be to study hard and get it done quickly. Then start building up your flight time quickly as well. Just keep focused on your dream and you will get there.

  4. Heyy my names aman here in england is it necessary to get a levels and if u dont have any can u have your private pilot licence i mean u would waste alot of money if u just go for it rather than know and do u have to pay £30k or over just to become a pilot u know for the commercial part…. ?
    If you could answer these questions it’ll be great thank you

    • I’m not sure what you’re trying to ask? Could you rewrite the comment using some punctuation and better grammar, please?

  5. Hi there …..i was reading all the article’s . …& i understood but made me thinking if i’ll can’t fine my dream be pilot because i need to pay a lot of money study be pilot ….& i am homeless but i have big a dream, i would like go to study be pilot & training how to flying on the sky. ….my questions is can i go to study be pilot if i am homeless ? …& second my questions is can i study be pilot if i am a woman 32 years old…..& thanks for informations

  6. Hi!! i am now in class 10 my aim is to become a pilot.i want to inform u that i am from a middle class family and my monthly family income is 39,000.i heard dat for becoming a pilot it needs a huge expense but i am not sure about it…………so does anyone can say me dat can my family bear d expense to become a pilot in future.

  7. Hi!! i am now in class 10 and my aim is to become a pilot.i want to inform u that i am from a middle class family and my family’s monthly income is 39,000.i heard dat for becoming a pilot it needs a huge expense but i am not sure about it…………so does anyone can say me dat can my family bear d expenditure for making me a pilot

  8. Hi. I’m Nathanael, and I’m 17 years old. What you write is actually really helpful so, thank you. I would like to know if you would advise me to go to Canada or the US for flight school. And I’d also like to know how much does it cost to end up being an airline pilot from the beginning until the end. Thank you.

  9. My name is Meet & I am from Gujarat i want to be a private pilot i want monthly salary $50,000 and around 1 to 5 year $ 1,00,000 i learn every thing about a private pilot cost up to millons of dollar but my dad can spend up to lacs not this much around millons , so now what can i do to be private pilot

  10. thanks am grateful with the information but to affford such amount is not easy.am just 18years from nigeria .i have this great zeal to be a pilot but the cost is pushing me away i reallyneed a sponsor am ready to sign agreemen for repaying him after learning and haven started working. i hope God will help me with that your friend Austine.

  11. hi i have little concern about what are the important subjects do we need from high school to become pilot


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