Career change and finances

Hey everyone. New to the aviation world. A little background about me:

I’m 28 currently a commercial truck driver thinking about becoming a commercial airline pilot. I’ve always loved the feeling of flying and the world around it. I’ve been a musician since I was 6 and been in bands since I was 12-13. Music has been my whole life but flying was right behind it. I almost join the military to become a pilot but stuff got in the way.

I’m looking into making the jump from truck driver to pilot but have some questions

1: does anyone here regret going to ATP or feel like they could have gone about things differently? And is the ATP price worth it?

2: I’m putting pricing together and for the program plus living expense I’m looking at around $120,000. According to lion calculators…. $120,000 for 15 years at an average of 10% is almost $1100 a month. Does that sound right? For research I’m finding ATP is the lowest paying CFI job at there where, on average, instructors are making like $1000-$1500 a month?

Any sort of on-site or clarification is immensely appreciate.

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  1. Not in the least. In fact that’s the reason I’m a mentor on this forum. I was in the same place as you and many who want a career in aviation are and after a TON of research decide ATP was the best route. In fact I honestly don’t believe I’d be where I am now if it weren’t for ATP. Sure now there’s a shortage and getting hired is easy, but I knew many pilots who were working as CFIs, with many more hours and more experience than I had who couldn’t get an interview. It was ATPs airline partnerships (which they pioneered) that got me in the door.

  2. As far as loan repayment go that can vary considerably depending on the lender, your credit etc. That all said, provided you do well I really wouldn’t be that concerned. The Regionals are offering Tuition Reimbursement with acceptance of conditional offers of employment. More important is with first year signing bonuses of $100k+, you could literally pay your loan off almost immediately (hence one of the major reasons for the bonuses). As for instructor pay ATP while not the highest, isn’t the lowest either. It’s always funny to me how people complain about the cost of the program and then about the instructor salary. ATP actually works hard to keep the cost down, raise the salaries and it would go up as well. More important is instructing fur ATP gives fit access to virtually ALL the Regional partners and even the opportunity to bypass the Regionals entirely and go directly to Spirit or Frontier. This is unprecedented and the effect that would have on your career would far outweigh any salary gap. That said, you always have the right to work elsewhere.


Thanks for the reply Adam. Question 2 wasn’t so much as me complaining about the price but more trying to figure out how people are affording life on the CFI salary as well as being able ti pay back the loan. But your answer greatly relieved the worries. Thanks

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