SkyWest and Other Cadet Programs

Hi everyone!

I’m currently scheduled to complete an admissions flight this Saturday and so I’m just working on getting as much info as I can right now as I prepare for this career change!

One of the aspects of the ATP program that I am trying to figure out is the different cadet programs. Currently, I’m most interested in the SkyWest program, but open to others as well. My question centers around how much flexibility is allowed with the program. My goal is to get the 1500 hours as soon as possible of course. So I’m regards to that, does anyone know if it’s possible to be in the SkyWest cadet program to start building the seniority it talks about and then flight instruct until 750-1000 hours and then jump to a Part 135 like PlaneSense or XOJET (some of the charters listed on the ATP site) to build the remaining hours and then go to SkyWest? Would that be a faster way to build hours? Would I be able to even stay in the cadet program if I left being an ATP instructor to go to a part 135?

Any insights or advice on this would be greatly appreciated!



I’m sorry and I’m certain some other kind gentle souls on here will better answer your question but I have to say YOU’RE KILLING ME!

You’re about to take your admissions flight and your worried about where you’ll go after 1500hrs? How about you log a few hours, focus on being successful in your training first (or do you think completing a highly accelerated training program that is exceptionally challenging is a given?). Have you completed your written exams? That’s really where your attention needs to be right now. Maybe after you successfully complete some training and have the opportunity to speak with others you can start worrying about cadet programs but right now you have much bigger fish to fry.



Haha you make a very good point! I don’t have the writtens completed yet, but I have started studying for the private written. Guess I’m trying to have everything a little too planned out haha. Thanks for the advice!


No thanks needed but thank you for taking my advice with the appropriate grain of salt.

Honestly though you can read and research till you’re blue but there’s really no substitute for actually speaking with the people from the various programs, and students and instructors who are actually participating in them (which you will have the opportunity to do).

While I understand and appreciate your desire to plan ahead, this industry is very dynamic and the best program today, might not be the best tomorrow. You’d be far better served focusing on the task at hand. Trust me, do well and you’ll have your pick of many options, don’t and all this is moot.

Now log off and start studying!



Reach out to SkyWest for clarification on switching to a part 135 operator, but to answer your question about efficiency I do not think that it would be faster to switch. Nor do I think it would be necessary. You would lose a few months worth of flying from training to get typed in a jet.


Adam, that is exactly what I am finding out haha. Definitely a lot of info to learn and read about but I will talk with other students and instructors about the different programs and see what they think!

Tory, I didn’t even think about having to get typed in a jet, so that’s a good point and probably not worth the extra hassle of switching partway through.

Thanks to you both!

There’s no faster way to build hours than instructing at a busy location. Period. You’d be hard pressed to find ANY operator that will have you gain more than 90 hours a month. And even 90 is really pushing it. During my time as a student my CFI frequently flew well above 100 hours a month (not the norm, but repeatable). I had 110-125 hour months myself as a CFI. Not only that will get you to 1,500 faster, but as it was mentioned ANYTIME you switch jobs in aviation you lose some time and momentum due to indoctrination training, aircraft training, etc. Fastest path is to grind it out as a CFI.


The pathway programs set up with ATP are unique and not offered anywhere else. For example, as an instructor with ATP and in the cadet program you’re eligible for the mentorship, interview prep, a guaranteed interview and tuition reimbursement.

If you leave ATP to fly for a part 135 operator, you lose your eligibility for those benefits. At that point, you’d have to reapply to the standard cadet program with Skywest which includes mentorship and interview prep and pay back all the tuition reimbursement you received.

For now, focus on what’s right ahead of you! Each checkride is a marker for your future success. Without a good training record, none of these programs will be accept you.