Reality of getting hired after ATP Flight School


My name is Will and I’m 30 y.o. I have a four year degree. I have always dreamt of being a pilot and I’m finally following through on that dream. I took my intro flight lesson with ATP last weekend and I’m hooked. I’m determined to succeed as a pilot, but of course I do have certain hesitations… Mainly being able to live with flight school debt as a flight instructor at ATP, the likelihood of being hired by a regional airline, and the ability to pay off the cost of flight school as I make my way up to the majors/regional Captain. I’ve heard and read that there is a pilot shortage. My cousin is an FO with Southwest and he has assured me that I’d be OK and get a job. He even seems to think I could get a job right out of flight school and not be an instructor (I have my doubts). He says having and “in” in the industry will help… I’m completely willing to be an instructor for a couple years in order to build up the 1500 hours, however. My main question is: Is there a chance that I would not be hired by a regional airline by 2 years or when I have 1500 hours? I’m completely willing to work my way up from the bottom, but I’m just concerned that I’d be stuck as an instructor for 5 years with 70k+ in debt. Are ATP Flight school graduates respected in the airline world? I know my questions are dependent on a lot of different factors and not easily answered… But any insight would be appreciated.




First of all, your concerns are completely normal. Just take a look at this forum and see that you are not alone.

The industry today is at an all time high, there is much more demand for flights than there are airplanes and pilots to fly them. Over the past few years (at least since I started flying), the regionals have been constantly one-upping each other to try to get as many pilots in the door. When I started flying 2 years ago, the standard of pay at most of the regional carriers was around $22/hr. Today it is around $35-$40, that is quite a big change in 2 years. And the word is that this will continue until 2022.

Of course nothing in life is guaranteed and many things can happen between now and when you are ready to apply for the airlines, but the odds are in your favor. Also, there are many options to choose from. If one company says no, you still have other places to try.

If this is your dream, and you are willing to put in the time and effort, I don’t see a reason you should be worried.



As Yarden said this probably the best time to get into this industry BUT again there are no guarantees. Provided you do well, you will have no problem getting hired at a Regional at all. That said I can’t agree with your friend as far as getting hired without instructing? You cannot LEGALLY fly for any US airline with less than 1500 hrs and that time needs to be built. There are a few other ways to build time besides instructing but those are few and far between. Unless your friend has an “in” at some small Part 91 operation that will hire you with 250 hrs you should count on instructing, which is not a bad thing.



Welcome to the forums. There is always a chance of not being hired, but that becoming a practicality is really based on you. If you fail several check rides, have a DUI charge on your record, interview very poorly, etc you might not get hired. But study hard, do well, prepare for your interviews and you will do just fine during them.

I am a bit confused how your cousin thinks that you could get a job right out of high school The FAA mandates that airline pilots have a minimum of 1.500 hours of flight time, there is no way around that. Even the two caveats the FAA granted (military pilots and flight universities) only have very small reductions in the flight time requirements.

I think that ATP students are very well respected in the industry. I recently flew a flight where all three pilots had gone to ATP, that should tell you something. Also, be sure to check out this webpage as it shows which airlines have been actively hiring ATP graduates, you will see that ATP is well represented at all of the regional airlines:

Let us know what other questions we have, we are always happy to answer.


Thanks guys for your responses. I appreciate it.

I looked at a job posting for Horizon Air (partial requirements below) and they mention 1500 hours OR Restricted ATP mins. What does that mean? Also, will ATP Flight school/instructor fulfill all of the other requirements including cross country flight time?

-200 hours of cross country flight time, required

-1500 hours of total flight time OR eligible for Restricted ATP mins, required

-100 hours of night flight time, required

-75 hours of instrument flight time in actual or simulated instrument conditions, required

-250 total hours of flight time as pilot in command which would include 100 hours of cross country flight time and 25 hours of night flight time all within the PIC minimums, required

-25 hours of multi-engine flight time, required


Restricted ATP mins apply to either military pilots or pilots that graduate from a four your flight program at a university. These pilots are eligible for a slight reduction in the 1,500 hour rule. As an ATP instructor you should have absolutely no problem at all meeting Horizon’s hiring requirements.


Awesome, thanks Chris.

Anytime, that is what we are here for :slight_smile:


You have to figure while you’re building 1500 hrs you’ll be getting your night, you cross-country etc. You won’t just be in the pattern for 2 yrs :slight_smile:



A DUI is not an automatic disqualifier, but it certainly doesn’t help. The interviewer will look at your past history in conjunction with your skills and qualifications. One DUI probably isn’t a disqualifier, couple that with anything else and it likely is.



The problem is with a DUI/DWI you can not fly into Canada which many Regionals do and that makes it a problem. As Chris said it’s not an immediate disqual but it def ain’t good.


I got an underage drinking ticket when I was in college… It was not driving related but I was given the option to have my license suspended or pay a large fine and I chose to have my license suspended. Does anyone know if that would be an issue?


I have a friend who had a similar issue. It was the only thing on his record and he had no problem getting hired at both American and Virgin America. He did explain that it was a youthful mistake and that he had a perfect record since then. I don’t see this as being an issue for you if you have an otherwise clean record.


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Thanks Chris. Just making sure all my bases are covered.

Will did you start training?

Yes I did.

Hello Will R,

I’ve been tracking your tread for a little while. Consider me to be you a few months ago…I’m curious how you are making-out? Any advise/ concerns since you started? Have you learned anything that others like myself should know? Are there any discrepancies within the training offered that you were not expecting? Are you satisfied with the way your future is looking and where it’s headed? Is the program meeting your career expectations as it relates to the nature of your tread (Reality of a job offer after completing the program)?

PS. I have a family, kids, a mortgage etc, like most grown ups looking for a career change

Mark-- prospective student

I too would like to know how ATP is going. Although I’m a junior in college, I’m seriously considering applying to become an airline pilot. I also wanted to know if it was possible to land a job at a major international airline after ATP. I wouldn’t mind putting in a few years at a regional but I want to know if the option is there. Thanks!


This is a question that gets asked often. The short answer is no and if you think about it the reason makes sense. You’re on the hiring board at Delta Airlines (or United, American or any other Major), you need pilots and you’re looking at 2 applications, 1 just finished flight instructing for ATP, he has 1500hrs (the legal minimum) which he built for the most part in the local traffic area flying single engine props and light twins instructing. The other applicant did exactly the same thing PLUS he now has 6000hrs, 4500 of which were in a Regional jet flying across the US, Mexico and Canada, has been operating within the airline’s system, has demonstrated his ability to survive an airline training program, and has demonstrated he has some command and leadership by spending the last year as a Capt on that jet. Who would you hire?