Real Answers from Real Pilots

ATP Instructor Pay

I am another guy considering the mid-life, mid-family career change! One huge concern is obviously paying back the massive student loan for ATP. Although ATP advertises their hourly rates for instructors and “up to” salaries of 32-42k with tuition reimbursement, it doesn’t quite help set realistic expectations since I have no clue how much the instructors work. So, what is the most an instructor is allowed to work at ATP? And what can I realistically make as a CFI with ATP?
Thanks!
Kevin

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Kevin,

I will have to do some checking for you to get exact numbers on this, but I would say that the average instructor is making $25k-35k per year. Instructors are limited to eight hours of flying per day, but it is hard to get that amount in anyways because of the ground instruction that is required. I would say that 80-90 hours of flight time per month is a fair estimate of how much an ATP instructor flies. Keep in mind that this is an independent contractor job (you receive a 1099, not a W-2) so you are responsible for withholding your own taxes from that amount.

It certainly isn’t getting rich, but keep in mind that you will have tuition assistance on top of that. I hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions.

Chris

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Thanks Chris!
That is helpful to have more realistic (humble) expectations for that transition. I would be grateful for any additional information you can muster up.

Kevin

Kevin,

I will ask a contact tomorrow, but I think the numbers that I quoted you are pretty safe numbers to use. Like most careers, the pay off doesn’t start until after a few years.

Chris

Hey Kevin,

As the older mid-life crisis guy here I figured I’d chime in. You’re going to be instructing for approx. 2 yrs (give or take). I realize and appreciate with a family you need to budget and figure out if and how this will work. BUT, as Chris says the payoff will come later so to me it’s a matter of figuring out if you can tighten up and sacrifice for those 2 yrs (plus the first few at a Regional)? While ATP quotes the “possible” earning potential as an instructor (which is in fact realistic), there are no guarantees. How much you’ll make AND get paid relies on students signing up. Like any other industry there are highs and lows and you have to prepare accordingly.

Not trying to paint a dark picture but I believe in planning for worse case and hoping for the best.

Adam

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looking forward to your contact to have a little more insight. Realistic pay as an instructor is a major concern for me as well.

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I reached out to my contact who informed me that the rates that I quoted in the earlier thread are accurate.

I hope this helps.

Chris

Thanks Chris! Certainly will be tough to manage a budget with half of my income going to repay student loans. Lol Hopefully I can figure out the financial portion of it all and get working.

Kevin,

It is tough, but it doesn’t last forever. I ended up paying mine off early as I just buckled down and sent every extra dollar I could towards the loan. Keep the tuition assistance in mind when thinking about all of this.

Chris

I have 12 years active duty service in the US Army and I am considering getting out and attending flight school. With benefits I make around $45,000. So being an instructor will definitely hurt some. My question is, does ATP have a program that allows me to use my GI Bill?

Hi Richard,

Unfortunately the only way you could use you VA bennies AND train at ATP is if you went through a degree program at a university that uses ATP for their flight training (like ASU).

Adam

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Do you have any information on ASU’s degree programs?

Richard,

You can find information on ASU’s program here: https://poly.engineering.asu.edu/aviation/professional-flight-bs/

Chris

I have heard a plethora of great things about Embry Riddle. Does anyone
have any experience with that university?

Richard,

Emery Riddle has a good program that certainly has the advantage of a four year degree along with it. My concerns with them are that you would be getting a degree in flying, which is completely unnecessary to enter the pilot world. I think that a degree in something else, such as finance or marketing, makes you more well rounded and gives you a back up plan should anything happen to your ability to fly.

My other concern with them is the cost. From what I have heard their flight training and tuition can be very expensive. Do some research and compare their costs to other schools and see what you come up with.

I made a list of questions that I think you should take a look at, you can do so here: Questions For Any Prospective Flight School

I hope this helps, let me know what other questions you have.

Chris

I appreciate your concern and information. Some background may be of
assistance. I am currently in the US Army and considering getting out. If I
do I will have over 12 years active duty service so I will be using my GI
Bill to pay for school. E-R has the advantage of allowing me to get a
degree and pilots license using my GI Bill as it will all be covered. If I
use my GI Bill to only learn to fly then I will still be left without a
degree and with out financing for a degree if flying doesn’t work out.

I am not completely familiar with the GI Bill, but isn’t it capped at a max rate of $12,500 per academic year?

Not exactly. The post 911 give a little more but only covers 36 months. So
regardless of how many classes in a semester, it will cover it a point.
Then there is the yellow ribbon program to help cover the rest.

It sounds like you have a pretty good knowledge of this program. Just make sure that the actual flight training portion is covered under this program.

Richard,

My 2 cents. There’s no question ER has a fantastic program. Their name is well known and respected throughout the industry. While I agree with Chris I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket, ER does offer alternative degrees in aviation mgmt. and other aviation related fields. While I know many pilots who went to ER and got excellent training, everyone of them complains about the expense. If the GI Bill covers it I believe it’s a great program. I’d contact them and find out.

Adam