Should I become a pilot?

Ive been fascinated with planes for most of my life. I love how they sound, how they work, etc. Ive heard that airline pilots make a lot of money, and that they get many benefits. Is becoming a pilot worth the time and money? And how do I decide if this career is really for me? What do I do if I don’t want to become a pilot, but I’ve already paid for flight school? Is it good to have a college degree that I can fallback on?

I also am wondering if I can go straight to a major airline, such as American Airlines after getting my 1500 flight hours, and meeting all the qualifications.

Also, Is there any other efficient way to build flight hours without becoming a CFI? Or, is there a way to do CFI Part-time to build flight hours, and have another part-time job, such as a programmer, engineer, etc.


Well between now and finishing college take a few discovery flights. Go to a local flight school and ask to go up with a CFI just to see what it’s like. If you’re still not sure, you can start by getting just your private pilot certificate. You should know by the end of that process if it’s something you want to commit the rest of your career to or not. But don’t take out a loan for $95k and start an airline career pilot program if you aren’t 100% sure you want to be an airline pilot. It’s a serious commitment. The bank will want your monthly payments regardless if you become a pilot
or not.

Yes, we recommend you go to college first and have a degree to fall back on.

You don’t have to flight instruct. You can fly skydivers, pipeline, aerial surveying, crop dusting, light cargo, etc. whatever you chose you would need to commit full time. Building time quickly is important because every day you are getting behind in seniority numbers. Once reaching 1500 hours you will be qualified for a regional airline to continue building time. There are a few pathway programs that could get you to the right seat of an Airbus at LCCs like Frontier or Spirit but those are very competitive.



Thank you. So to become an airline pilot, I have to go to flight school, get all my licenses and ratings, and then get a full-time job that would help me get my flight hours, such as CFI. Then, I would get hired to a regional airline and gain experience, then I can interview for a major airline.

Is that Correct?

Also, Do CFIs make enough money to live a decent life? Can I go on vacation, pay off my Flight school, get an apartment or a house, etc.

Sorry to bother you with all the questions :slight_smile: but are there any good flight schools near the DC area that are cheap but good?


You are correct that’s the usual path.

While instructors get paid its not alot and this career most definitely requires some sacrifice (though not as much as it did in the past).

While flying can provide you with a great quality of life, it’s not immediate and there are “dues” to pay. Further if it’s not something you enjoy, there are obviously other careers out there. Id encourage you to take some lessons at your local flight school before your dive into a program like ATPs with both feet. It’s a huge commitment and if it’s not something you enjoy or have aptitude for there’s no point.



Thank you. That answers my questions.

How long would you say would it take to become a pilot for an airline like United or American? Starting with no experience.


That can obviously vary considerably due to any number of factors but the quickest would probably be 4.5yrs (that’s 2.5yrs for training and timebuilding, 2yrs at a Regional after that). The longest is never.

Flying for a Legacy is the pinnacle of our industry and while again its gotten much easier, the reality is not everyone is successful. Bust too many checkrides, get a serious blemish on your record, or simply be a lousy interviewer and come across like a jerk and it could never happen. Long short there are no guarantees.



Thank you.