How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot? – Financing Flying

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot?

Pilot Training Costs & Paying For Flight School

So how much does it cost to become a pilot? The cost of pilot training is a huge topic and for a good reason.

In this guide, we will focus mainly on how much does it cost to become a commercial pilot and get the relevant qualifications and ratings to fly for an airline.

This is part of our hugely in-depth ‘How To Become A Pilot‘ guide, where you can discover everything you could ever need to become fly for a living.

Lets further explore ‘how much does it cost to become a pilot’.

Why Listen To Me?

 I’ve been in your position. I had NO IDEA how much pilot training cost, or how to pay for it. 

About 10 years later, I now have over 4,500 hours on the Airbus A320 and a wealth of information to share on achieving the dream of flying for a living. 

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What You Will Learn

Everything from the factors that impact the overall cost of flight training to financing options available for aspiring flight crew.

We will answer, once and for all, the question of ‘How much does it cost to become a pilot?’

We’ll also break down the costs associated with obtaining different types of licenses, but we will focus on getting an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), the license required to fly for an airline.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Pilot?

When answering how much does it cost to become a pilot, we need to focus on the specific area, as a Private Pilots License (PPL) is far cheaper than a license required to fly for an airline.

To get the necessary frozen or unfrozen ATPL license (you’ll need 1500 hours to fly for an airline in the USA (an FAA requirement) but not in the UK/Europe) required to fly for an airline, you can expect to pay between $60,000-$100,000.

In Europe and the UK, training to become an airline pilot will usually cost between £60,000-£100,000 (the same in Euros too).

Usually, the faster you complete your flight training, the more expensive it will be.

Yes, commercial pilot training is extremely expensive for student pilots, costing tens of thousands of dollars.

The Factors Impacting The Cost Of Becoming A Pilot - ATP

How much does it cost to become a pilot, and what factors really impact this cost the most?

These are mainly how long it takes to become a pilot, the ratings and qualifications you will be given, and the flight schools’ reputation with airlines.

Let’s look at each factor.

Accelerated Pilot Training In America - FAA Certified

It’s worth noting that these fast courses might be called Accelerated Airline Pilot Track (AAPT) courses in America and are slightly different from those in the UK/Europe.

Although some of these flight schools will offer to qualify you within 12 months, it will take longer than this to have the qualifications to join your first regional airline.

Pilots in America need 1500 hours before being eligible to fly for regional airlines.

Those cadets in America will complete their flight training, graduating with a Commercial Pilots Certificate, usually on a single-engine aircraft, but sometimes on a multi-engine, within around 12 months.

Once they complete this stage, they train to qualify as Certified Flight Instructors (CFI).

At this stage, these cadets will continue to hour build (and get paid to do so as a flight instructor) until they have their 1500 hours to allow them to work for a regional airline.

They will also pick up their Multi-Engine Rating and potentially Instrument Rating throughout this time.

Some accelerated schemes advertise to complete your pilot training within 7 months. As you can imagine, these are the higher costs, coming in at around $90,000+.

Now you know the answer to how much does it cost to become a pilot in America.

An infographic explaining how long it takes to become an airline pilot, including: - Getting a PPL (~4 months). - Getting An Instrument Rating (~4 months) - Getting A Commercial Pilot Certificate (~3 months) - Getting a Multi-Engine Rating (~1 month) - Becoming a Certified Flight Instructor (~3 months) - Working as a flight instructor to achieve 1500 hours (1-2 years). Also helping explain how much does it cost to become a pilot.

Know Exactly What's Included And What Certificates You Will Qualify With

Don’t you hate it when you purchase something and it’s not as expected? This is no different when looking at how much does it cost to become a pilot. You need to know exactly what’s included so you aren’t left with further costs later down the line.

Different flight schools will offer different things on the accelerated flight training courses.

For example, some will include all of your instructor qualifications and provide you with a job as an instructor once you have achieved this.

It’s worth checking what’s offered in these training programs, as you want to ensure you know exactly what you are signing up for before starting the course.

You will need a course that covers the following:

  • Private Pilot Certificate (known as a PPL) – Attain this to act as the pilot in command of a small aircraft.
  • Instrument Rating – This is necessary to fly the aircraft safely using the instruments only and not relying on outside references.
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate/Commercial Pilot License – A Commercial Single-Engine Certificate is a qualification that allows someone to be paid to fly as a pilot-in-command of a single-engine aircraft for compensation.
  • CFI and CFII – A Flight Instructor Single-Engine Certificate enables you to teach cadets on a single-engine aircraft.
  • Instructor – Work as an instructor to build the mandatory 1500 flight hours and get paid.
  • A Multi-Engine Rating.

How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot In The UK/Europe?

When looking at how much does it cost to become a pilot in the UK, most people are looking at the Integrated scheme.

It Usually Costs between £70,000-£95,000 to complete the integrated course in the UK and Europe, and it can take around 18 months.

*Personal Experience*

I paid a whopping £130,000 during my pilot training journey. This included £100,000 for the flight training and living costs and then a further £30,000 for my Type Rating (a license to allow you to fly a specific aircraft type) on the Airbus A320.

A considerable amount of money, but worth it.

Now you know the answer to how much does it cost to become a pilot in the UK/Europe.

Modular Pilot Training - Slightly Cheaper?

To train as a pilot at the lower end of the price range usually means conducting your pilot training over a more extended period, known by some as a ‘modular’ training style.

The modular course allows pilots to train in ‘chunks’ and allow trainees to continue working and earning money while conducting their pilot training.

This is a very viable way to do your pilot training, and will cost a lot less than the integrated/accelerated scheme.

Financing for Flight Training - How To Pay For Pilot Training

So now we have answered the question of how much does it cost to become a pilot; we need to discuss how to pay these huge costs.

So how do you pay for your pilot training?

This is probably the question I get asked the most, and before we get into this, I am not a financial advisor. Therefore, you should always do thorough research before paying for flight training.

I am here to point you in the right direction on how you can find this information and finance your pilot training.

You can skip this chapter if you have enough money to pay for your pilot training without a loan or other financing alternatives.

However, most will be keen to understand how cadets can pay this large amount.

Flight Schools Are Just Businesses

How much does it cost to become a pilot and how do people pay for it?

One of the most common questions I get is how to pay for flight school.

Training organizations/flight schools know how expensive their pilot programs are; therefore, they usually have a finance specialist available to answer questions.

They want you to be able to get the finances. This will allow you to pay them for your pilot training and for them to make money as a business. Remember, you are the customer.

The finance team at each flight school is one of your most significant assets regarding fact-finding regarding financing your pilot training.

As well as this, you can also book a meeting at your local bank branch to see if they can offer you a loan at more favorable interest rates.

It’s worth noting, however, that some banks will be more helpful than others regarding this kind of funding, as pilot loans aren’t common.

Do You Need To Be Rich To Become A Pilot?

When asking how much does it cost to become a pilot, you’re probably thinking that all pilots come from wealthy backgrounds?

Not at all.

Our pilot training class was made up of people from various financial backgrounds.

Some, like myself, were fresh out of school and didn’t have a penny to our name. Others had worked for many years and secured finances to help them pay for their training.

Many borrowed money using their parents’/other family members’ property as collateral (if their family members had enough equity in their property).

Some were very fortunate and had the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ behind them to lend or gift them money.

I am trying to emphasize that you don’t need to be extremely wealthy to become a pilot; I certainly wasn’t.

However, as it is with any case when it comes to borrowing money, there will need to be something to guarantee the loan against.

I appreciate this probably isn’t the answer you were hoping for regarding how to pay for training.

Becoming a pilot is not restricted to the wealthy.

Multiple financing options, such as loans or scholarships, are available to support pilot training costs that vary based on license and program. Researching and comparing options is crucial before committing.

Tailor-Made Aviation Financing Options For Pilot Training - How To Pay For Flight School

Tailor-made financing options are a huge piece of the puzzle when asking how much does it cost to become a pilot.

Some of the larger flight schools now offer financing options that will be tailor-made to your flight training. These specialized loans should offer competitive interest rates and the option to pay off pilo loans early without penalties.

They will likely offer ‘repayment holidays’ also. This means that from the point you take your loan, you won’t have to pay back the loan until a period has passed.

For example, it might be two years before you need to start paying back your loan, allowing you to complete your training without worrying about repaying your loan while you are not earning any income.

As we discussed in the salaries section, it’s worth remembering that your starting salary won’t be huge. Therefore, considering your loan repayment costs in the early stages of your career is essential.

Everyone’s financial backgrounds are different, so giving detailed guidance is difficult.

However, I have provided guidance on where to get the required information. Once again, everyone is unique regarding finances, so you must find the best route for you.

Once you have found a flight school that ticks the boxes for you, reach out to them and ask them how their cadets finance their training.

Some of the larger flight schools now offer financing options that will be tailor-made to your flight training. These specialized loans should offer competitive interest rates and the option to pay off pilo loans early without penalties.

They will likely offer ‘repayment holidays’ also. This means that from the point you take your loan, you won’t have to pay back the loan until a period has passed.

For example, it might be two years before you need to start paying back your loan, allowing you to complete your training without worrying about repaying your loan while you are not earning any income.

As we discussed in the salaries section, it’s worth remembering that your starting salary won’t be huge. Therefore, considering your loan repayment costs in the early stages of your career is essential.

Everyone’s financial backgrounds are different, so giving detailed guidance is difficult.

However, I have provided guidance on where to get the required information. Once again, everyone is unique regarding finances, so you must find the best route for you.

Once you have found a flight school that ticks the boxes for you, reach out to them and ask them how their cadets finance their training.

Airline Sponsored Pilot Training

How much does it cost to become a pilot? Nothing on an airline-sponsored flight training course!

Airline-sponsored flight training assists aspiring pilots with financing options.

When looking at how to become a pilot, everyone dreams of having their costly flight training paid for.

The good news is that some airlines will offer to pay for your flight training.

Some examples of this have been the British Airways and Virgin future pilot programs, which are not currently open at the time of writing (May 2023).

Sadly, due to the 1500-hour rule in America, these programs are more common in the UK/Europe than in America.

Although these schemes have been very rare in the past five years, they are starting to come back.

This is partly because airlines are struggling to get enough pilots, causing a global pilot shortage (though more apparent in America than in the UK/Europe).

The most recent example of this paid-for flight training is the Tui-sponsored MPL program for those based in the UK/Europe!

TUI is covering some of the lucky cadet’s training costs. Their flight training will be completely specific to TUI’s requirements.

After completing the flight training, these lucky cadets will be bonded with this airline for several years.

These lucky first officers will be required to pay if they leave the airline before the end of this bond period.

You are likely to receive a reduced starting salary to offset the cost of the flight training that the airline has provided you.

However, this is worth it, in my opinion, especially with the higher interest rates on loans we see now!

These courses are obviously massively in demand and very competitive. But ensure you get in early and give it your best shot if you are eligible for them.

When looking at how much does it cost to become a pilot, these airline-sponsored schemes are incredible!

After completing the flight training, these lucky cadets will be bonded with this airline for several years.

These lucky first officers will be required to pay if they leave the airline before the end of this bond period.

You are likely to receive a reduced starting salary to offset the cost of the flight training that the airline has provided you.

However, this is worth it, in my opinion, especially with the higher interest rates on loans we see now!

These courses are obviously massively in demand and very competitive. But ensure you get in early and give it your best shot if you are eligible for them.

When looking at how much does it cost to become a pilot, these airline-sponsored schemes are incredible!

Student Loans/Finance To Become A Pilot?

How much does it cost to become a pilot, and can pilots get a student loan/student finance?

Looking into student loans/finances can be essential when looking at how much does it cost to become a pilot.

You might wonder if any student loans/finance schemes are available.

You are most likely also wondering how to pay for flight school.

In America, various student loans are set up to help you pay for flight school.

One of the best links I can provide is to L3 Harris (I am not affiliated) who provides some of these student loans for flight training in America.

Follow this link for FAA pilot training student loans to help you answer how to pay for flight school.

There are also schemes available in the UK/Europe.

I was one of the first people in the world to graduate with the BSc Honours Degree in Professional Aviation Pilot Practices, which entitled me to a student loan.

It is worth noting that I am still currently paying this student loan off at a rather high-interest rate. However, it allowed me to borrow this essential money for my training.

Multiple universities offer it now, like the University Of Central Lancashire, Middlesex University, and many more.

You do not need to attend any lectures at the university. The course is entirely online and tailor-made around airline flight training!

Definitely worth looking into. These student loans can massively help when looking at how much does it cost to become a pilot!

Private Pilot License Cost

Now we have discussed the main topic, how much does it cost to become a pilot, or more specifically, how much does it cost to become a commercial pilot, lets’s look at how much it costs to become a private pilot!

To acquire a private pilot certificate, you need to attend flight training at a reputable flight school.

However, flight training costs vary depending on location, type of aircraft used for training, and flight hours needed to complete your certification.

A typical PPL needs around 40-60 hours of flight time with an average hourly rate ranging from $100-$200; additional expenses include ground school fees, exam fees, medical examination costs, tuition fees, pilot gear and equipment like headsets which might make up your total expenses.

To Summarise - How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot?

So hopefully, now we have successfully answered the question of ‘how much does it cost to become a pilot’.

If you have any questions or concerns or want further information about how much does it cost to become a pilot, please email me (you can find my details on the contact page).

I truly hope this post has proved useful and provided you with plenty of information on the question of how much does it cost to become a pilot.

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When looking at how much it costs to become a pilot in the UK, most people are looking at the Integrated scheme.

It Usually Costs between £70,000-£95,000 to complete the integrated course in the UK and Europe, and it can take around 18 months.

Most flight schools will require just basic GCSEs such as maths, English and science.

However, having A Levels or equivalent to be selected by certain flight schools/airline programs can prove useful.

Physics and Maths A Levels will prove helpful but aren’t required.

The modular course allows pilots to train in ‘chunks’ and allow trainees to continue working and earning money while conducting their pilot training.

This is a very viable way to do your pilot training and will cost a lot less than the integrated/accelerated scheme.

To pay for flight school, you will need to borrow money from a bank or a specialized lender.

Some of the bigger flight schools offer specialized loans.

You can also enroll on a BSc Honours degree to get access to a student loan.

easyJet Captains can expect a yearly salary of roughly £115,000 Plus a 5%-15% bonus after serving for a length of time. They will then also make ~£35 per flight hour.

Total = roughly £150,000 annually.

First Officer Salary ranges between £40,000-£75,000 plus £25 an hour flight pay.

On the Integrated scheme, you can complete your pilot training in as little as 18 months.

I personally went from 0 flight experience to flying passengers for easyJet in 23 months. 

You can get paid to work as a flight instructor to build these hours and can expect between $25-$45 an hour.

Paying privately will likely cost at least $7000.

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