Salary after finishing ATP program

First, please excuse my bad English.

I’m 36, just finishing my 5 years being in the military and want to become a pilot. I already understand the GI Bill only covers about $7k-9k for ATP program. My questions are about the salary’s timeline for the 1st few years after finishing the ATP program.

According to ATP Airline pilot career earning pay chart 2023, after finishing the 7-month program, I will become an ATP instructor working for about $30k-40k / year for the next 2-3 years until I have 1,500 flying hours requirement to work for Regional Airline.

1: But I have to start paying back my tuition loan 6 months after finishing the program, thus how can I survive for the next 2+ years working as an ATP instructor?

2: Is it correct that I have to become an ATP instructor until I get 1,500 flying hours?

3: I also research about Airline sponsorship. Can I get into the program after finishing the 7-months program or I have to get 1,500 hours before being in the sponsorship program?

4: My main question is: For the common scenario, I will finish my ATP program and work as an ATP instructor making $30k-40k/ year for the next 2+ years before actually getting 1,500 hours to become a First Officer at Regional Airplane, is there any way to make more salary during this instructor timeline?

I live close to Arlington, TX location and would like to meet in person with an ATP staff here but the only phone number is the general number from Florida. Is there any way I can make an appointment in person to ask more questions since I actually have many questions to ask such as: (Admission, financing, salary, career plan,etc.) The online agent is not really helpful at all.

I hope to meet someone who has experience and living in the DFW area so I can meet in person for dinner to learn more information.

Thank you so much.


First off no need to apologize. Your English is better than many.

  1. As you point out your loan payments don’t start till 6mos after you finish training. We have no way of knowing what your financial situation is, your bills, expenses, etc. Different people handle the loan payments differently. If you sign a conditional offer of employment with a Regional, Tuition Reimbursement may be available and that can help. Others make interest only payments and others defer the payments till theyre actually at a Regional. The good news is whatever you do to survive, many Regionals are offering hiring bonuses large enough to cover the entire loan.

  2. You need to build 1500hrs to fly for an airline. How you get there is up to you. Instructing is simply the most common route. Also many of the Regionals require you to instruct for ATP if you accept one of their offers.

  3. Actually you’ll start getting recruitment offers when you hit about 500hrs or even sooner (provided you do well in training). Thing is while there are many benefits to signing on, you’re also locking yourself into a deal very early without knowing what might be better when you’re actually ready. Kind of a double edged sword.

  4. First off I’d count more on $25-30k than 40k as that’s the average for instructors. You may find yourself busier but in reality this is an entry level position and it’s hard to get the salary up. You also would not be able to have another job.

  5. The best way to get acquainted with a location is to schedule an Admissions Flight.