The best way to get from zero to commercial pilot on a budget

Hi my name is Maozya and i am an 18 year old female. I am an American citizen who has recently moved to Miami to investigate the best way to do my pilot training. I went to college in England where i studied A levels in Maths Spanish and Philosophy. Money is my biggest issue so i am looking to find out the best place and the best way to become a pilot. I have been told that sometimes when on a budget it is best to take modules separately as you gather the money together but am not really keen on this idea. Therefore i want to know if there is anyway you can work after gaining a PPL? or what is the earliest stage of your training that you can get a job and build up your hours this way? I am aware that the most money is in commercial piloting but my dream is to fly private jets or smaller aircraft so as not to take away the feeling of actually flying a plane but am willing to have different stages in my career to. What would you recommend as the best place to train in Florida? What are the benefits of your school? what places offer scholarships or funding? How easy is it to get a job at an early stage in your career? is there a big market for female pilots?
Look forward to hearing from you.

1 Like

Maozya,

Lots of good questions so let’s see if we can get you some answers.

A Levels: while you may have completed your A-Levels at a “college” in the UK they’re basically the equivalent of college entrance courses in the US. While a degree is not required for employment in many aviation jobs, it is at Major airlines so at some point you’ll want to look into that or you’ll find your career advancement somewhat blocked.

Obviously different people have different opinions on things and flight training is no exception. Personally I’m not a fan of breaking up the training in to ratings, modules or whatever. There’s a reason the airlines and the military train their pilots daily. In flight training each skill builds upon the next. These are perishable skills and if you’re unable without continuity inevitably they’ll be regression which means relearning which means more expense. In short while it maybe more manageable in the end it will cost you more money and more time. The problem with the time is that pilots have a finite amount of years they can earn so the longer you delay is time off the back end making the top salaries. I would recommend you wait (perhaps work and attend college), save some money and then dive in with both feet.

A PPL is just that, it’s a pilot’s license that allows YOU to fly privately. The laws are very specific and until you earn your Commercial license you cannot be paid to fly. Period.

Now when you say “commercial” I’ll assume you mean airline because as I said above a Commercial license allows you to be paid (aka professional) and that includes EVERYTHING from flight instruction, banner tow, corporate and yes the airlines. Even private jets can range from a small Lear for a private owner to a Global Express for a large corporate flight dept. The thing is most pilots at some point will find themselves flying for at least a Regional airline as the means to build a resume and experience. There are far more airline jobs than corporate or private and no one is going to let you fly their $50mil G5 until you have some quality time under your belt.

This is ATP’s website, it’s where I trained so obviously I’m biased. I always recommend people do their own research (as I did) but I think you’ll find there’s no better or efficient route to being a professional pilot available. ATP has been is business over 40yrs, has trained thousands of pilots and is very well respected. I often convey that when a good friend of mine’s (former Presidential pilot, Corporate flight dept Chief Pilot and Gulfstream and Global pilot to A-list Hollywood) daughter decided to be a pilot he sent her to ATP. ATP offers all it’s (successful) graduates a guaranteed instructor position. While there are no scholarships to any flight schools (that I’m aware of), after instructing for a few months and reaching as little as 500hrs, you can accept conditional employment at a Regional and receive Tuition Reimbursement from that airline.

Right now there’s a legitimate pilot shortage in this country. As such there’s a big market for female pilots, male pilots, black pilots, white pilots, tall pilots, short pilots, fat pilots, thin pilots…

Hope this helps,

Adam

Adam,

Thank you for all your help with the questions.

I was not aware that i needed a degree to fly for some of the major airlines as when i was thinking of training in England and looked into training with British airways or Virgin Atlantic (two of the major airlines of there) they said that a degree was not necessary but yes i will look into it. In terms of the degree is it just to show further education or are there some that would be better suited than others?

I agree with you i do not like to study discontinuously and think that like you said it is cheaper in the long term not to as well. What is a rough costing of the 0-commercial pilot ? as it will most likely it will take me quite a while to save up that amount of money i was thinking more of taking out a loan or seeing what funding is offered. What type of funding and repayment plans to ATP offer? How far in advance would i need to apply to attend ATP and for the funding? Yes by commercial i meant airline but am now aware that you need commercial to do any kind of flying out side flying yourself so this is what i would be looking to do. Perfect well thats good to hear! hopefully i plan to start training this coming September or a few months later.

Thanks for your help

Maozya,

The Majors want a degree as you said to show further education and as a means of thinning out the gozillion applications they receive. I have to be honest, while I’m a fan of degrees and believe education is incredibly important, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you have no desire to fly for a Major airline, you could potential have a fine career without one. The Regionals don’t require one and if you then wanted to move to private/corporate flying it’s really more a matter of connections and networking than degrees.

I suggest you take a look at ATP’s website as there’s TONS of info but the cost from zero-Commercial and Instructor position is $65,995. As for the loan and financial terms I did my training when you were 5yo so I’m certain they’ve changed. I recommend you contact ATP directly and they can give you current information. One note, in order to train with ATP you need either your PPL, a 2yr college degree or equivalent work experience so in your case if you really want to start next Sept that would mean getting your PPL first.

Adam

Adam,
Thank you again for the information and yes as you said would not want to necessarily fly for major airlines so i would pursue a degree only later on if i decided to i guess.
Wow a lot of money! and okay will check out the website for more info. Can you get your PPL with ATP? or would i need to go to another school for this ? and in terms of that cost for 0-commercial is it roughly the same in all schools?

Maozya,

If you check out ATP’s website, you will see that you can get your private through them.

There are hundreds of flight schools across the country and each one sets their own prices. I personally believe ATP to have some of the lowest prices out there, especially considering the value offered in return, but you should check out other flight schools and compare for yourself.

Chris

Maozya,

Take a look at what ATP offers here
https://atpflightschool.com/airline-career-pilot-program/

Yes you can get your PPL with ATP, but also know that ATP in an all
inclusive school, meaning all or nothing. No piecing together ratings. If
you chose to stop at commercial with ATP, there will be an early
termination fee.

Flight school rates vary. It can depend on a lot of different factors, but
it’s mainly based on region and the type of airplanes the school does the
training in. The easiest way to learn about what flight schools offer is to
find some nearby and check their website, call them or meet them in person.

Tory

Maozya,

While you can get your PPL as part of the Career Pilot program if you don’t have the college or work experience you’d have to get your PPL elsewhere.

Adam

By inclusive does that mean that in order to get your commercial license with ATP you also have to get your PPL with them to or can you go elsewhere then come with your PPL? Also could you expand on what you mean by no piecing together ratings as i was sure that commercial training was the end of your training so i dont see what you’d go on to do that would incur a termination fee if you didnt.
Thank you
Maozya

Maozya,

If you visit the ATP website (https://atpflightschool.com/airline-career-pilot-program/) you’ll see there are 4 options available. 2 for pilots WITH their PPLs and 2 without. Now, as I said earlier there’s your basic PPL which allows you to fly for recreation and the CPL which allows you to work and get paid as a pilot. HOWEVER, there are a number of ratings that you will also need in order to be successful in aviation as you won’t be able to do much of any flying without them.
Instrument Rating: which allows you to fly when the weather is bad or restrictive
Multi-Engine Rating: which allows you to fly planes with more than 1 engine
Certified Flight Instructor (CFI): which allows you to instruct (the most common way to build time)
Multiengine Instructor (MEI): which allows you to instruct in a multiengine airplane so you can build REQUIRED multiengine time.
Cert Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII): which allows you to train instrument students
ATP’s Career Pilot Program includes ALL of the above and does not allow you to just do a few. The idea is ATP is providing a COMPLETE package that will allow you to not only obtain your required licenses and rating but immediately be able to put them to use to build time, get paid and work towards the magic 1500hrs that’s required by the airlines and many other aviation jobs.

Adam

Adam
The whole process is so out of my budget is the sad thing:( do you know of anyone possible or any organisations that fund pilots or anything of that sort? its been my dream for so long and appears to be becoming a lot more impossible financially the more i look into it. I also spoke with a contact who is a pilot however and he said that he got his PPL and then went on to instruct for 4/5 years as a way of getting the CPL money, is it possible to take just these two modules, obviously not with you guys but else where?

Maozya,

You must have gotten some inaccurate information. To act as an instructor, one first needs a CFI and to have a CFI one needs a CPL first. It is not possible to instruct with a PPL.

I am not aware of any organizations that offer scholarships or sponsorships. Your best bet is to continue to try and save as much money as possible until you can afford training.

Chris

Maozya,

Of course it’s possible and I believe that’s how we started this conversation. This is the point where I bow out of the conversation. Your contact’s plan makes no sense. I directed you to ATPs website and also outlined what’s required but you’re looking for a shortcut. There are none. You say it’s sad “this whole thing is out of your budget”. You’re 18. Unless your parents are wealthy or you count cards, of course it’s out of your budget. Goals and dreams take work and dedication. That may mean continuing your education or at least getting a job, saving some money, building some credit or getting a loan. Does that mean you may have to wait a few years? Yes it does. Read some of the posts on this forum, there are people who have had this dream twice as long as you’ve been alive. Thing is they’re not saying it’s sad or looking for benefactors. They’re putting they’re homes and lives on the line. They’re making there families sacrifice in the hopes of realizing their dreams and hoping it’ll mean a better life in the future.

If it’s really your dream you’ll work hard and find a way. It’s too hard then maybe it never was.

Adam

1 Like

Adam
When i express that it is sad that does not mean that i am willing to give up at 18! i think you have interpreted that wrong i guess as i hadn’t done too much research so i believed that there may have been a scholarship or something of the sort, therefore finding out that there is no such thing in this industry is what is disappointing. Thank you for all your help and i will continue to dedicate time into finding ways to make this work, as like you said if it is truly my dream i will do anything it takes to make it happen, and i do not doubt that it will.

Hi- I am looking to do a drastic career change from IT to become a pilot, but at a late age. I am 43! I have some questions:

  1. Is it late to become a pilot at 43 sine the forced retirement age is 65?
  2. Will huge airlines like Delta, AA, United, FedEx, UPS, etc. hire someone like me?
  3. I understand that I will have a major salary cut , what will be my salary once I am certified pilot once I go through the 10 months training plus I have been told a 1.5 year flying as an instructor to accumulate 1500 hours?
  4. Do I get to choose my work location? Like can I be stationed in SD or DC?
  5. I have a Master’s of Science in Systems Eng and Management will I need to study from scratch and is my master’s degree any help?
  6. I am 5’7" and Weight 190lbs, 20/20 vision with correction is that okay?
  7. How much will a pilot license cost me?
  8. What’s the sign up bonus?
  9. Is the retirement only through 401k investment?
  10. If I become a pilot do I need to report to anyone?
  11. What is considered a failure and might get you fired?
  12. How many days a week does a pilot work?
  13. Some schools hire you as a flight instructor with a small salary will they help you with your school debt and how long does it take to accumulate 1500 hours?
  14. Are there any known discrimination against different nationalities or cultural backgrounds?
  15. What are the different stages and career phases in a pilot’s life?

I sincerely apologize for too many questions and if those questions have been answered in different forums. I am a bit nervous for such drastic change in life and career and scared I might spend tons of money becoming a pilot but no job prospects at all!

Thanks!

Nick,

Please take a look at the FAQ section as many of your questions are answered there. After that, we would be happy to help answer your remaining questions.

Chris

Chris- Thank You!