Questions about coming in with zero experience

My name is Michael and I am 27 years old. I am currently living in Florida but will be relocating to the mid-west in may 2017. I have had a passion for aircraft and flying since I was very young. My wife is finally completing her law degree and will begin practicing in May which will give me a chance to quit my current job, which has put her through school, and pursue my dream career as a pilot! I have done research on getting started but still have several questions. Would you mind laying out what exactly is involved to get to the point of being able to make money as a pilot as well as a time scale? I plan to start a program in the spring of 2018.


Welcome to the forums and thanks for posting!

To be able to make money as a airline pilot you will need all of the rating that are offered in the career pilot program plus 1,500 hours of total flight time. When you finish the ACP program you will of course not have the 1,500 hours, but you will have your flight instructors certificate which will enable you to build flight time as an instructor while getting paid to do it.

If you go to ATP you will graduate from the ACP program six months after you start. From there you will need to build the remaining 1,200 or so hours that are needed for the airlines. Most people chose to flight instruct and typically spend 1.5-2 years doing so before being hired at a regional airline.

So in 2-2.5 years you could be flying in an airliner, making money as a pilot.

What other questions do you have? Any particular sirline that you envision working for?


Hey Chris,

Thank you for the response! I do not have a particular airline in mind but would like to end up flying for a major airline.

I have had trouble finding but would like to know the approximate amount of money I should expect to invest in the program up to graduating.

Hey Eric,

Thank you for the information! Unfortunately I do not have a degree or my PPL. I am curious as to whether you would suggest getting an Associates degree or Getting my PPL before Enrolling in the ACP? Of course budget is in mind but more importantly time. I want to be in the ACP as quickly as possible.

What is exactly the requirement to get into the atp program in terms of if I get my private license like whats the bare minimum of what should I have in a private license as there are different options when you go into the local flight schools


A Private Pliot License is a private pilot’s license. I’d look for a school that’s convenient to you that has nice a equipment and a few instructors. Obviously cost is a factor. The only other requirement ATP has is you’ll need a minimum of 80hrs flight time in order to have sufficient hours to meet the Commercial license requirements (if you do your Private training with ATP they build that in). The minimum amount of flight time required for your Private is 40 hrs (although I believe the national average is around 60). That means you’ll need to do some additional flying in order to get up to the 80hrs. You’ll want a school that will rent you a plane after you get your Private at a reasonable rate.


Just some input on PPLs. I got my liscnese on July 1st after about a year and a half of lessons (was ready for my checkride in febuary but had to reschedual 5 times) All in all I got it at 67 hours, originaly I was ready around 55 but had to keep flying to stay proficcent, in the end i spent a little over $12,000, included all my costs (headset, sectionals, flight bag, ground school, examiner fee, medixal, etc). Most people at my flight school take about 6-12 months to get their lisence and are a little under that 60 hour mark. Always budget on the higher end when looking into costs, that way, the only finacial suprise you will get is when somthing is cheaper than you thought it would be! :slight_smile:

I too am just starting out and looking at this for a career path. I am already a flight attendant, so I already understand the lifestyle. I am really wondering how to do this and pay bills at the same time? Any suggestions? also I hear that sparton has a bachelors, which would you recommend.

Hi James,

I’m not going to lie it’s tough. Flight training isn’t cheap and if you try and do it part-time, while you’ll still have income it gets a lot more expensive and takes a lot more time (see Tucker’s post above). Honestly I don’t know anyone who’s trained with Spartan, but I do know they’ve been around a while. They are a college and do offer a degree program. If you don’t currently have a degree that’s a good thing to have. That said if I were going to go to an aviation university I’d probably be looking at one of the bigger more established names (Embry Riddle, Kent, ASU, etc.). The problem then is instead of not having income for 9 mos you’re in school for 4 yrs. As an FA you also understand the importance of seniority and obviously the sooner you’re hired the sooner you get on the seniority list. All things to consider?


Also with a degree I would have a better chance at a mainline. As it sits I only have my associates degree in massage and 50 credit hours towards a science degree and all these credits are in Tulsa Oklahoma so it will vary on what gets transferred.

James LeBlanc