Next steps from PPL

Hello all,

Did this forum recently change? I ask, as I was exploring ATP close to a year ago, and I remember a different forum that I was a member on.

Anyways, almost a year ago, I really came to the conclusion that I’m not getting any younger, I’m 27, and I really wanted to actually go after my dream to become a commercial airline pilot. My mom was a flight attendant for American for 35 years and I grew up flying with her, meeting pilots, etc., from a very young age. I’ve always loved aviation and aviation history! About 8 months ago or so, I decided to begin my PPL training as I figured, if I enjoy my private training, I will get an idea if this is something I want to go after for the rest of my life. I’ve absolutely loved my PPL training here in Reno, NV, and just finished my long cross country solo a couple days ago. I have a couple more hours of night flight to obtain, and then I begin studying training for my check ride, oral and written etc. I hope to have my cert within a month.

What do I do next? I’m currently working 2 jobs to afford my PPL… The thought of not working for around a year or so, really terrifies me. Especially knowing that I won’t be making any sort of “decent” money, for the next 6 or so years… I’m not going after aviation for the money, of course that is nice, but it appears to be a profession I can wake up, and be excited for, for the rest of my life.

How did you guys afford it? I don’t have any family I can lean on etc.

Do I work my butt off for the next 2 years and try to save as much as I can? I also want to start going after an online degree as I know the majors will require that. Or do I go headfirst into a crazy amount of debt, and start working towards a degree while I’m working as a CFI, Regional pilot? I know this is my decision to make, but I really need some advice. I’m afraid some of the advice I receive, might be from kick back incentivized graduates perhaps? I’d like to save money (hard to do as I’m trying to pay of my PPL training), but I also really want to start building my hours and experience to get a job with a regional.

Anyways, sorry for the long winded post, just trying to seek some advice.



Also, what is the benefit of the 100 hours of multi vs the 40? The 40 looks more appealing to the cost. Do the regionals want to see the 100 hours vs 40?

Hi Peter and welcome back!

I actually saw your name and thought you were a good friend of mine (with the same name) messing with me! The forum recently got a revamp. The powers that be decided to go with a more open format so anyone could chime in and contribute (personally I like it). First off congrats on your long x-country (it’s actually a pretty big deal) so kudos. Second I assure you I am not a salesman and I receive ZERO incentive, pay, kickback etc if you sign up or not. I’m on here because there were ALOT of people who helped me get to where I’m at, I couldn’t be happier and I simply want to pay it forward and spread a little aloha!

Ok so let’s talk. Not sure where you’re getting your numbers from but the picture isn’t quite as dark as you paint it. If you finish your PPL, the ATP program is only 100 days (just over 3 mos) so that’s how long you need to go without pay. After that you can work for ATP as a flight instructor and ATP’s pay has come up considerably AND a number of the Regionals are offering tuition reimbursement so you shouldn’t starve. Once you do get to a Regional their pay has also come up considerably due to the pilot shortage (around $36K depending) and some are even paying signing and retention bonuses (up to $80K). Not great money but far from the $20K first year when I started!

I think the main question is the debt? Flight training is without question expensive. Not sure what you’re making now but whether you start now or in 2 years you’re probably looking at borrowing some if not all the money for tuition. If you wait the 2 yrs ideally putting some cash away you’ll obviously be more comfortable and in a better position to attack that debt which is fiscally responsible. The flip side is an airline pilot has a finite amount of years they can work. You’re young and are looking at potentially a nice long 36 yrs in the business (assuming you get hired by 29 if you start right away) vs 34 (or less) if you wait. A senior Capt makes approx. $250K a year so those 2 yrs would cost you a half a million dollars (not mention the money you’d be putting away in retirement along the way). Now while that all sounds rosey the reality is you obviously don’t want to bury yourself in debt and I completely understand that (financial stress is not a healthy thing). For my part I had much less time since I was older and I was anxious to get going. I took the loans and deferred them until I was in a better position to pay them off (which I have). I ended up paying much more in interest over time but I was able to keep my head afloat with the meeger pay and a family to support. Others I know sucked it up and started paying immediately. As you pointed out it’s your decision and it comes down to what you feel most comfortable with?

Hope this helped some?



Virtually all the Regionals have multi time min requirements (usually 100 hrs min, more to be competitive). By going with the 100hr program you graduate with that requirement already met. Now if you’re planning on instructing at ATP, where much of the training is done in a twin, the 40hrs should be fine as you should be able to build that multi time up over the approx. 2 yrs instructing. Problem is if for some reason you don’t instruct for ATP it can actually be pretty difficult (and expensive) to build that multi time. Make sense?


Thanks for the response!

Yes, the multi-time does make sense. I certainly do plan on instructing as a way to build hours, as I’m sure a lot of pilots do, so it does make sense to save the 10k and get the 40 multi hours? Also yes, I was looking at the 180 days but seeing as I’ll have my PPL, the 100 days makes sense.

Wow, 100 days… That must be INTENSE! I’ve noticed that weekends are off. Are weekends reserved for intense studying, or is it possible to work a flexible weekend job for some income?

Also, one thing that really confuses me is the hours required to get a regional job. You interview with a Regional at around 300-500 hours? But you can’t officially be employed, even as a first officer until 1,500 hours has been met…? What is the interview at 300-500 hours? Also, one thing I noticed is that with the start from Private, an hour requirement of 80 is required? The FAA Average is around 55, which is probably where I will be at once I’m done with my PPL. Why is this a requirement, is it an absolute requirement? I don’t foresee myself flying another 25 hours with friends and family as I’ve spent a lot of money on the PPL in the first place! Haha. In the airplane I’m currently flying, a C172S, that would be around another $3-4500.

Also, must one live at the provided ATP housing? $800/mo is a little steep, not steep in some part of the country.

Upon obtaining CFI CFII how long does it take a dedicated instructor on average to reach 1500 total flight hours? Obviously, I don’t expect to make a living and be able to afford rent and food as a CFI. Do most CFI’s have other jobs to help make ends meet?

Sorry for all the questions!

Don’t be sorry Peter, that’s what we’re here for and these are REALLY important decisions you’re facing so ask away.

It is intense and requires a great amount of self-study and discipline. Which is why no you really wouldn’t be able to work weekends. You need to be studying, chair flying and also getting some rest.

In the past to be a First Officer at a Regional you could get hired with just your Commercial Pilot license (CPL). Unfortunately back in 2013 the Airline Safety Act took effect and it states that every airline pilot must their ATP certificate (Airline Transport Pilot) and that means 1500hrs. As I mentioned there’s a pilot shortage right now so the Regionals are trying to lock guys in as soon as they can. So much to the extent they’re offering Tuition Reimbursement. BUT, before they hand over that cash they want to see who they’re getting. So between 3-500 hrs ATP will get you an interview where they’ll review your records and make sure you’re the kind of pilot they want. Provided everything is good they’ll make you a job offer and you’ll go right to training once you build your 1500hrs. Now the reason ATP requires the 80hrs goes back to that CPL. To work as an instructor (or any other paid pilot position) you must have your CPL and that means at least 250 hrs. The ATP Program from PPL on requires the 80hrs because you’ll need that to hit the 250hrs for your CPL checkride. It is an absolute. Yes the average is 55 but many take longer so when you’re done you will have to fly some more. If you get close ATP will usually have you come in and build the balance at a very reasonable rate but that’s only for a few hrs.

Housing is your call. Not everyone lives near a location so they offer it. If you live close or at least close enough for a commute then you can save a few dollars.

Obviously time building varies but ATP quotes an average of 15-20mos of instructing. Just as the training is very intense, working as an instructor can be as well. Also most pilots are anxious to build time as quickly as possible and there is often opportunities to teach on the weekends and most instructors would rather build the extra time (and get paid that way) then working a part time job on weekends. It would be very difficult to hold a steady weekend job.

Peter again I understand finances are tight and I’m not trying to just shoot down all your ideas for outside sources of income but the reality is this training is accelerated, intense and requires not only your time and energy but often a fair amount of sacrifice. There are definitely other flight schools and routes to a career at the airlines (some you might want to consider?), but if you want to get there fast AND receive the type AND level of training that will prepare you for training at an airline, ATP really is the best option.


Cool, I appreciate all the advice gentlemen.

Hmmm, I’ll have to figure out how I can that jump from the ~50 hours I currently hold, to the 80 ATP requires to start the training… I budgeted to receive my PPL, not 80 hours…

Once you finish your general ATP training and then go to Florida for CFI training, how are you assigned to the region you’ll be instructing in?

One thing also is, receiving the type rating for the various aircraft you’ll eventually be flying in the airlines.

Who pays for this? Do the airlines sponsor this bit of it?


Any thoughts on that?

For better or worse Peter I have thoughts on EVERYTHING :grin:

Ok first off your hours. Assuming you’ll be light in hours there are ways to pick up some on the cheap (even free). I’d look into your local CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and see if they need pilots? Many do and they have great equipment. You need to get checked out and then you can qualify as a Mission or Transport pilot and pick up some hours for free. It won’t be a ton of time but you don’t need a ton. Also members can rent the squadron aircraft for pretty cheap. I’d also hang around the local airport and make friends. Sometime you can find pilots with their own aircraft who want another pilot to take a flight with them for whatever reason (comfort level etc) and you can pick up some time that way.

Once you’re done in JAX getting “standardized” you can submit your “wish list” of locations (usually 3) and ATP generally does a pretty good job of getting you to one of them . You might not get your first choice right off the bat but once it becomes available you can request a move.

Type ratings are provided by the airlines. Once you get hired they’ll train you to fly the airplane you’ll be flying and your checkride will be your type ride. When you get hired at your first Regional airline, your type ride will also probably be your ATP checkride where you’ll earn you ATP cert AND the type for the airplane you’ll be flying. You do hear on occasion people going out and getting their own specific type rating to make themselves more attractive to a particular airline. This was popular a few years back at SouthWest where they required a 737 Type before they’d hire you. This is no longer the case. As a side note this actually backfired for a few pilots I know. They got the 737 Type but then decided they wanted to apply elsewhere. Every airline they interviewed at rejected them after seeing the paid for 737 Type because it served as a big flag saying I WANT TO WORK FOR SOUTHWEST. They said they changed their minds but the airlines didn’t believe them thinking if they ever got the call they’d leave. They eventually got picked up but it took a while.


Hmmm interesting. I’ve heard some airlines essentially take the type rating cost out of your earnings.

Well, I’d certainly like to attend ATP ASAP, just gonna be working and saving like a madman.


I wouldn’t say they take the cost out of your earnings so much as they use it as an excuse to justify first year pay which is traditionally much lower percentage wise. The fact is training a new pilot is very expensive. In the past some airlines would have training contracts stating if you left the company within the first year or 2 you owed them a prorated amount for training but you don’t hear about that very much anymore except at some very small carriers. That’s also the reason most airlines have “seat locks” when you change aircraft. Here at Hawaiian it’s 2 yrs which basically means if you move to a different airplane you’re locked in that plane for 2 yrs before you can change again.