How old is to old to pursue being a pilot?

Hi All,

To whoever replies thank you in advance. I am currently a 33-year-old accountant. I have a degree from DePaul University in Accounting. I recently went on a retreat and am 100% confident I now want to pursue my dream which was to become a pilot.

I am willing to resign and live at my mother’s to get this accomplished.

Couple of questions:

  1. Do I need to go to another accredited university to go to flight school or can I do it through APT given I have a degree in hand? My goal is to eventually fly for a regional airline.

  2. I was told completing the program at ATP is 9 months full time and then another 18 months give or take as an instructor to accumulate enough hours for a higher position. (by higher I mean any other position on its way to getting more hours), does this sound relatively true?

  3. Should I expect to be basically be making less then 45k for the next 4ish years?

  4. Am I crazy?




You’re definitely not too old. In fact you’re right at the average age most pilots start their training. Now to you’re questions:

  1. If you already have a degree you’re good to go. The Regionals don’t require one and the Majors don’t care your field of study, just that your have one.

  2. That is correct. 9mos for training and then approx 18mos to build the required 1500hrs.

  3. You won’t see $45k for the next 2.5yrs. You won’t be getting paid while you’re training and flight instructors earn about $25-30k. First year at a Regional however is $40k.

  4. Its not crazy to pursue one’s dreams and this is something most people can achieve provided they’re willing to do the work. Beyond that I don’t know you so you may very well be? :wink:



Welcome to the forum, let’s get to your questions:

  1. No need at all for another degree. On the subject of your goals, your short term should be a regional airline, but you absolutely want to have a major airline as your long term goal.

  2. Yes, it sounds spot on, with the usual caveat that your mileage may vary.

  3. Yes, most likely, although sign on bonuses can make first year FO pay higher than $45k.

  4. Yes, most likely. But most of us are a bit anyways :slight_smile:

In all seriousness, you are still at a good age to think about making the career move, but you should be looking to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.



I actually think it’s possible to reach 1500 in 18 months total. That’s assuming you average ~80 hours of flight time per month. I know it was possible pre-pandemic.

As for pay, once you reach the regional level your pay will range between $50k-$80k depending on how much you are willing to fly. That’s without factoring in Tuition Reimbursement or a sign on bonus.


Hi John,

I just wanted to add my words of encouragement. I am 45-years-old, and have had a successful career in international business. Flying has long been a dream of mine; and one that I am hoping to make a reality in the coming months thanks to the honest, unvarnished, advice of the forum moderators.

I laughed when you asked if this was crazy, as that is almost verbatim to what I asked just last when I first joined the forum! Nope, not crazy at all. And if you are, then you are in good company with some other crazy people who are making the plunge for their second act in life (including @Adam).

Best of luck!


Welcome to the forum John!
Sounds like the guys covered all of your questions well so I won’t beat a dead horse, so to speak… but you’re definitely not crazy for wanting a career change at your age. Being a mentor on this forum, I’d say its not of the most commonly asked questions here… “am I too old to start doing what I’m really passionate about, which is flying!” You’re definitely not alone in it. Even if the numbers on paper make you feel crazy for doing it, does it really matter if it means having true job satisfaction for the first time in your life? Just a thought…