ATP vs. Working vs. School -- How do you manage all this?

Hi all, I’ve been reading posts and FAQs for MONTHS and I would like some advice on my situation. I just can’t seem to figure out anything myself.

I’m moving to Arizona in a couple of weeks (probably will arrive there sometime around September 9, 2019), I’ll be in ASUs backyard, maybe you can tell me if that would be helpful or not. Just keep in mind I’d like to wait until I have AZ residency for tuition purposes.

I’m currently 21 years old, no college experience (however I’ve passed 6 AP tests and 6 IB tests and would prefer those don’t go to waste). I also have no flight experience. I would love to become a pilot for a major airline (as most do). I know you eventually need a degree for that, but not for the regionals. Many get their degrees online while flying for a regional. I’m fine getting a degree in literally ANY subject, online or not.

I understand ATP is a great option. I understand it’s also very costly and you don’t want to do school or work while training. And you’ll need a lot of discipline and self-study. 81k for a 9 month program, how is that even possible?? Is the cost of a PPL, CPL, and other ratings that high??

Does ATP provide housing? After moving to AZ, should I immediately get into ATP and worry about school until I’m at a regional? Is that even possible? Should I only work first? Should I work and and do online school? What online schools do you like? Any you know of that will give me credit for my tests? How did you personally manage your ridiculous costs coming from both flight training and school? Any other options that I failed to go over? I don’t really know what to do. I asked a lot of questions, if anyone has insight, please HELP! I NEED INSIGHT!

Thanks in advance,


So I went to college before I joined ATP which I recommend doing personally cuz I’m not a fan of online school, but that’s just what I’d do but not everyone is me. Second the roughly 90 thousand is used for every single license and rating ATP offers. Not only that, but they send you a care package with every book and training stuff you’d need, and a backpack. They also give you kings school prep courses for PPL and your IR. Those two programs alone cyst 400 or so each, so 800 right there. In the 90000 the calculate that you will need a headset- $500. An IPad- 1000. They also have you enrolled in Sheppard air program for all your written after the PPL. Which is 50 per program and there are 6. Now to take those tests cost 165 per test which comes out of ur money. Each checkride is anywhere from 500-700. There’s a lot of other costs, plane rent and instructor aren’t cheap but basically that’s the gist of it so ya it’s expensive. If you fly 8 hours per week that’s 1600 basically. ATP has housing but the also is a cost you need to factor in. It’s roughly 200 a week at most locations. Now I didn’t have a single school loan so I can’t tell you about what it’s like dealing with training and school money.

Some of the other guys will probably chime in too to add things or correct me if I’m wrong


I recommend you take a look at the FAQ section and browse some of the many threads we have on the subject. A few things to keep in mind:

You cannot start ATP without at least a 2yr degree, equivalent work experience or your Private pilot license. I don’t know what you’ve been doing since HS but you might not be eligible.

We generally recommend staying in school and finishing your education prior to training. Online school requires a great deal of discipline and with no experience studying on your own ATP can be quite challenging.

If you need to work to live then by all means but it’s flight training and furthering your education that you need to do.

Most important you say you have no flight experience but would love to be a pilot. I would’ve loved to be a surgeon but I took one pre-med class and passed out when we watched a film on an appendectomy. Before you spend ANY time pondering a path you need to go fly. Chances are you’ll like it but there’s also a good chance you’ll discover you don’t. Until then you’re spinning your wheels.


Thanks, Adam and Joshua. I should rephrase. I’ve been on an airplane many times and I absolutely love it. I was a missionary after HS so work or school was literally impossible during that time. But thank you, your reply was very helpful. I think I’ll finish up school and work while doing that. I’ll be a little older than what I would’ve liked to have been to start getting piloting experience, but all good things come at a price. Thanks for answering my questions and many others.


Being on an airplane and flying one are completely different. You like being on airplanes cuz that typically involves traveling. Like I think was mentioned, I’d take a discovery flight because being in control may not be what you think it’s like and you may not enjoy it as much


Sitting in the back of a Boeing and saying you love flying is like watching a football game and saying you’d love getting tackled. You might like it or you could get a concussion. Until you actually sit at the controls of a small general aviation aircraft you simply don’t know.


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Most of these are adult level decisions that only you can make. I will say that any professional level training is expensive. Yes, ATP’s cost is significant, but so is their investment in aircraft, training facilities, instructors, etc. You would be hard pressed to find the same amount of training elsewhere for the same price.

I was an IB graduate as well. To get credit for the tests, I picked up the phone and asked various schools if they would give credit or not, you will need to do the same.

You might find that some schools will only allow so many credits to be transferred in and your flight training could count towards that. Also, schools will only honor AP and IB credit for a certain period after you took the tests, so you might be up against the clock on that.

Take a look at the FAQ section as there is a lot of good information there.