Starting my career at 38 years old

Hi everyone!

I’m a 38-year-old accountant with many years of life experience. I’ve always loved flying and regional aircraft. Finally last year, I had the opportunity to do a few discovery flights and it was my best life experience. Since then, I’ve been seriously considering pursuing my dream of becoming a regional or private jet pilot.

As I’m sure many of you can relate, my two main challenges in this transition are my age and finances I have a mortgage and living expenses, which have been significantly impacted by inflation, are quite high. I do not have any children but have about $15,000 in savings and approximately $50,000 locked in my 401K. While I’ve been diligently preparing, I worry about the financial strain it may put on me, especially considering it might be a while before I start earning a steady income as a pilot.

I am currently working 30 hours per week remotely, which will allow me 10-15 hours for flight academy school and accumulating hours.

I’m reaching out to inquire about any advice or recommendations regarding financing options for flight school. Are there grants or loans available for early 40-year individuals who are looking to pursue their careers a pilot while managing their financial responsibilities?

Also, what kind of flight positions can I work, earn some money, and accumulate flight hours? Average how much will I make per hour? Will it allow me to cover my expenses?

Any insights, personal experiences, or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you all in advance for your support and guidance.


Good questions so let’s get you some answers but before we do, just a couple of things. First your age shouldn’t be a concern. While you’ll never be #1 on any seniority list, you would still have a good 25yrs and should be able to reach most if not all your goals (I’m a Capt at a Major airline and I started at 39 and that was LONG before the pilot shortage). Second, the finances should be a concern as it is for most. Finally, if you’re thinking about training with ATP you will not be able to work and be successful. The accelerated timeline requires a 100% commitment and failure to do that is a recipe for failure. With the above in mind here goes.

  1. there are loans but no grants. The reason is flying has not just intellectual but physical challenges and frankly not everyone can or should be a pilot. Again there are loans but since the loans are unsecured they require ideal credit and the interest rates are high.

  2. the most common job for new pilots is flight instructing. The average position pays about $30hr and the average instructor flies about 75hrs a month.

  3. as we have no clue as to your expenses we have no idea whether you can cover them or not? Sounds like a question for an accountant :grin:



Are you looking to acquire your certificates outside of ATP, or applying to ATP and attending the ACPP? If you are looking to attend ATP, it is not recommended to work during the program as it will take all of your time. While some have tried to work, some have found the reality of the accelerated program and either struggled or realized, it was not for them, having to leave without completing.

  1. A lot of individuals finance the training, learning to fly is not cheap. While ATP has loan partners (like Sallie Mae), you can choose whoever you want to finance if you get approved. The only way to know if you’d be approved for the loan, is to apply. As an accountant, I’m sure you’ve learned to manage finances well and budget for the present/future. There are smart repayment plans through lenders like Sallie Mae; interest rates are at an all-time high.

  2. Once you earn your commercial certificates, there are numerous jobs that you can partake in. Flight instructing being the most common, there are others: banner towing, aerial photography, survey work, to name a few. While being a flight instructor is not the most rewarding with pay, the incentives of attending a program like ATP gives the recipient tremendous benefits such as tuition reimbursement with airlines, cadet programs, and more.

  3. While working hard is one of the many characteristics to success, working smarter will also do you justice. There is a great difference in the quality of student that comes in ahead of the game (completing most of the writtens) versus one that comes in with just the bare minimum complete. Preparing for every lesson the night before and being on top of the game will ensure you’re fully prepared for what is to be expected of you. These are just a few. Browse the forum here and you’ll find many student experiences’ and what helped every individual.


Hey David, Admissions here!

It looks like you have a lot of great questions, feel free to give us a call at your convenience so that we may better assist you.
ATP Admissions is available M-F 8am-7pm EST and our phone number is 904-595-7950.

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