Real Answers from Real Pilots

Just getting started: ATP General Questions

Hello everyone,

Long time guest here on the forum and have finally decided to pull the trigger on pursuing a career as a pilot.

26 year old college graduate with 2 bachelor degrees in Political Science and Intl. Affairs. Originally intended to go the military route but was denied due to a peanut allergy. I have taken a few introductory flights at the local flight school but I’m basically starting with zero time. Currently trying to secure financing through Sallie Mae, however this has been a struggle due to being furloughed from my job due to COVID for the past few months.

I realize that the ATP program is demanding. Is it possible to still work a part time job and still realistically keep up with the program? I would have to move out of state to go to ATP, as they don’t have any locations here in NV. Considering the PHX and Ogden locations.

Secondly, this whole process of getting started has been somewhat… daunting. The financing and sheer cost of the program is a lot to take in. Especially during these turbulent times. So my second question is for anyone who has made the tough career change. Any tips?

Lastly this question isn’t as important at this moment, but my ultimate end goal would to be flying for UPS or FedEx. Any General suggestions on how to ultimately achieve that goal would be awesome.

Sorry for the lengthy post everyone, but any insight anyone has would greatly appreciated.


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  1. it is STRONGLY recommended you don’t work during the program. ATP has accelerated what normally takes years into months. Many people find the program extremely challenging with zero distractions. That said this is America so it’s your decision. That said keep in mind, as you point out, the program is not cheap. If you fall behind, struggle etc there are no do overs or “I’m sorry, I didn’t believe your advice, can I try this again?”. Busted checkrides can negatively affect your entire career. It’s not a chance I would take.

  2. it is a huge decision and not one to be taken lightly. I walked away from a successful business to take a chance on an unknown. For me it was the best decision I ever made but it’s your decision to make.

  3. You’re thinking about step 837 and your at step 1. Get trained, DO WELL, build time, experience and contacts and you’ve got a good shot at reaching your goals.


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I did what you are thinking of doing as far as switching careers, and it was a tough decision. For me personally, my quality of life increased dramatically, even thou my finances decreased. I left a decent paying career in Tennessee to attend ATP in Jacksonville Fl, although my wife makes enough money for us to not need to depend on my income for a short while (and she wanted to move to the beach).

I am in month two of the fast track program, and I thought I could Uber eats drive in between flight to have extra spending money, I quickly decided that spending that time studying was exponentially more beneficial then the few dollars I would make from the self employment.

All that being said, you could check into the new part time program, but I am not familiar with it as everyone I have encountered is doing the fast track. It is ultimately up to you as an individual to make the tough choice to peruse a dream. I would say to not choose based on the money as a career pilot, but to choose based on what you think you would rather spend your life doing. Hopefully the money will be there as it was before COVID, but flying is what I want to be doing either way.


Let’s get to your questions:

  1. It is strongly recommended not to work during the regular program for the reasons that Adam mentioned. However, the Flex Track is designed exactly for those needing to work while also flight training.

  2. I was not a career changer myself, but there are other on here that can chime in on that.

  3. Keep your records clean (FAA, driving and criminal), have a college degree, build your flight time and network with every pilot you meet. But it all starts with getting your pilots licenses.