How likely are to be picked up by an airline?

Well howdy everyone!

This question has likely been beaten to the absolute brink of death, but I have to find an answer that falls in line with my question specifically.

I’m 32, divorced and now remarried, I have a car to pay for, more credit card debt than I’d care to have (thanks to the divorce), and student load debt from my undergrad.

Of course the overwhelming nature of taking on debt to go thru this school is always on the mind of many that go thru it. And with my existing debts and obligations it makes me worry about if this is the best option to get into the aviation industry. That being said I have two options to go about this.

The first option is of course to go thru ATP, and take on the over 100k it would take to cover living expenses, and the flight education.

Or go back to my home state, where I qualify for a special grant that would cover my flight education. This would however require my wife and I to relocate, but have a free living situation. Now this program would take 2 years, and I would likely only finish the program with maybe 200hrs of flight time. But I would be relatively debt free and while I’m totally on board with being an airline pilot, I wouldn’t be restricted to only flying for the airlines in order to pay off any overwhelming debt.

The main part of the question is, how likely am I ,as an ATP student, to be picked up by an airline and secure a sign on bonus to rid myself of the debt incurred to get in the industry.

I have several friends that all work as pilots both in and out of the airlines. Some say that the 2year program makes more sense financially while the airline pilot friends say to jump right in head first to get to work faster. And I understand that airlines function off seniority, and that’s not lost on me. But at the end of the day, I have a wife to take care of, and I just want to make the best decision I can to make sure our future is more secure. Regardless, it is my sole mission to become a pilot…so that’s happening one way or the other. But the chance of saddling myself with that debt with a less than high probability seems so daunting.

Please and thank you in advance for any insight and advice!!


You’re right, this has been beaten to death but you want a personal assurance it’s worth you taking the plunge. I’m fascinated by posts like yours (and there are many). How likely are you to get hired? Depends on whether or not you can fly an airplane. Somehow you assume that you’ll be awesome and it’s simply a matter of the airlines or ATP getting you a job. The fact of you being a good pilot or someone the airlines want will want is a given is a given right?

Let’s me frank. You’ve got a ton of debt, you’ve got a couple of pilot friends who have told you the money is good and getting hired is easy so you figure what the heck BUT the $100k investment is daunting. It should be. While flying isn’t rocket science or brain surgery not everyone can or should be a pilot and many people washout. Further while getting hired these days is very easy, successfully completing airline training is not and many leave with only stories of how they were almost an airline pilot.

Will training with ATP increase your chances of getting hired. Yes it will because ATP has more relationships with more airlines than any other flight school. More important ATP will better prepare you to not only get hired, but be successful when your are. Further, IF the industry slows (which it always does), know that ATP grads were getting preferential hiring long before there was a pilot shortage and most pilots couldn’t get an interview.

That all said with no flight experience we have absolutely no idea if you’ll ever be hired because we have no idea if you can fly. If I were you I’d take a lesson or 10 before contemplating a $100k loan or relocating your family solely based on your confidence.


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You might find that you are not able to get an additional loan granted to you because of your existing debt, which sounds extensive. The best thing to do is to apply for the loan at ATP and see if you qualify. If you do not, the decision might already be made for you.



It’s hard to comment on your situation without knowing all the details. As Chris said, you might not get approved for the loan. That will determine your options. If you do, then you’ve got a decision to make. Best to talk to a financial advisor that can talk more extensively on the debt to future income potential.

If it were me, I wouldn’t pile on more debt if you have an option to get the training by other means. You have to trade time and potential seniority for it but you’d be in an even worse pickle if all hiring stopped and you were left with 100k flight school loan plus what you already have an no job. It depends on what your tolerance for risk is.



Credit is something that travels with us, good or bad credit, unfortunately the only way to minimize it is paying it off. I would focus on paying off the debts you have than incurring more. The debts you have are depreciation debt (i.e., car), and credit card which builds massive interest rates. Have you had a discussion with a financial advisor or personal banker to see what routes you could do to minimize the debt?

Truly the only way to know whether you’d be approved or disapproved is by applying.