Beginning Steps

Hey there!

My name is Collin and I am 21 years old. I have, for awhile now, wanted to be a pilot and have not become serious about it until recently after deciding my other career choice is not for me. I just graduated with an Associate’s degree in Arts at the start of last month and have been lightly researching about the necessary steps to become a pilot the last few days and it has been pretty confusing. I find that in my research there is a lot of conflicting information and would just like to come here and get some clarification on what steps I should be taking.

I have basically zero experience when it comes to aircraft, I have not even been on one as a passenger much less in any other capacity. My ultimate goal is to become a commercial pilot in small single engine aircraft. From what my research tells me, I should first obtain a student pilot certificate, then my private pilot license, and ultimately a commercial pilot license. Is this correct and if so is there anything I should do prior to beginning this process? I currently do not have a driver’s license and was curious if I should first obtain one which might be a bit of a dumb question. My final question is what should I expect the cost of all this to be? I come from a relatively poor family and don’t have much to my name as some months we are getting through the week with only a dollar or two to spare. Are there financial plans that can be obtained?

Any guidance is greatly appreciated and I thank you for your time in reading my post and offering assistance.


Lots of good questions but what’s obvious is before you spend a whole lot of time working on the logistics of a career in aviation, you first need to fly. While many people believe they’d like to be a pilot, until you actually go to on a plane (particularly a small training aircraft) you really won’t know for certain. Some love it but others are terrified and get sick. ATP offers intro flights if you have a location near by. If not simply go down to your local flight school and schedule a lesson or intro flight. Until you do that again you really won’t know if flying is for you.

As for your career goals in curious as to why you’d want to limit yourself to small single engine airplanes? While there are jobs that do that there aren’t many and they certainly don’t pay very well.

Next while a driver’s license isn’t required it’ll certainly raise some questions during an interview. Particularly why you don’t and how do you plan to get to work?

Process wise you technically only need your student, your Private and your Commercial but I can tell you no one will hire you without your instrument as well. Further there aren’t many jobs besides flight instructor for low time pilots so you’ll need your CFI as well to instruct and build time.

Prices vary but ATPs program is just under $90k. It covers everything and can get you all you need in just 7mos. Most people take out loans for the training.


Thank you for the valuable information!

I will definitely look into obtaining an intro flight at some point in the near future and possibly following up with a local flight school about any further questions. When it comes to my reasoning for small single engine aircraft, it mostly stems from my fascination and enjoyment of prop aircraft. I am certainly open to the idea of expanding to bigger jet aircraft. I will definitely take the advice you have given me and use it to plan my future actions though I must admit the cost of the whole process has certainly dissuaded me a bit.


That’s completely understandable. Flying airplanes isn’t cheap and the cost of training can be daunting. Only you can decide if it’s worth it but I’ll offer this. Captains at Major airlines earn over $350k. The cost of training is actually relatively inexpensive when compared to the potential returns. I would look at it more as an investment in your future than an expense.