Tranisitoning into training with a family

I have a question for you guys. I am 33 and feeling a bit late to this career. I want to get my training done as soon as possible.I have a master’s degree and a ppl. I am looking to get into atps accelerated course.I am married to a woman who is not too supportive. She is semi interested but thinks I’m crazy to switch careers. I am the sol provider of my family including insurance. My wife is a stay at home mom and is not willing to leave her kids to day care. Does any one have any ideas how I can continue to support my family while undergoing flight training? Thank you so much.


It is not possible to work while in ATP’s program. It sounds like your only option is to continue to work and go the mush slower route.

You might encourage your wife to sign up for this forum. While we would not “sell” her on the idea of you being a pilot, we would be happy to answer any questions that she might have.



I will add to Chris’ comments and point out that you are able to add in a “living expense stipend” to your student loan for ATP. It sounds like your monthly expenses will be a bit more than the standard $900 that ATP typically suggests, but I believe that number is negotiable upon review from ATP and your ability to get approved for the loan. Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to calculate how much additional income (above the stipend) you’d need over the course of 6 months, and then figure out how long it would take you to save that amount. I think ATP will still be the best option, depending on a few of those variables listed above.

Edited to add:

Something else to take into consideration is the amount of money you’ll realistically be able to earn once you begin flight instructing or working as a low time commercial pilot. While those numbers, in many cases, have increased dramatically over the last several years, you very likely won’t be breaking the bank for the first several years of your flying career.



There’s no easy way to put this. This career requires sacrifice, especially in the first 5 years. Sacrifice requires support. Unless you have enough savings or have other means to support your family while you pursue aviation, I don’t think you should switch careers.




I have to agree with the others. Support is really important and there’s no way you can work while at ATP or even instructing after. My wife also thought I was crazy and threw me out. Fortunately she worked and had a good income but otherwise it would’ve been a disaster.


From one Robert to another,

I agree with a lot of what the others have said. I’m in a similar situation as you, I’m 30 years old, married, but no kids. We are currently trying though. Here’s what I’m doing, maybe you can do something similar. My wife and I have a significant amount of equity in our home. We are in the process of getting ready to sell and downsize and use the profits as a cushion to replace my income. My wife also works, which helps, and her mom lives in town and may let us live with her during the 9 months of training. So, between the equity savings, my wife’s income, and possible free rent, I think I’ll be able to make it work for me.

You may have to come up with a creative plan as well. For example…Do you have retirement savings? Maybe you can use some of that to make ends meet for 9 months. Regarding insurance, there’s always COBRA insurance, however, that’s expensive. But, it’s a way to keep insurance while unemployed and in training.

Going thru this process myself, I’ve learned it takes a lot of planning. It’s a big puzzle and you have to figure out how to fit the pieces together.

Best of luck to you!

Thank you guys for the advice. I love what you said Robert (great name by the way!) this is a puzzle and I need to figure it out. Send your creative Ideas my way. I am having my wife read some posts and hopefully I can get her support. This is my dream and I am finally ready to pursue after so many years of hiding. Thank you guys.

I’ll jump in too. Switched careers from one that made six figures, mid 30’s, married, three kids. Wife pulls in some money on part time work but nowhere near enough to cover the bills.

It is definitely a sacrifice and takes a lot of planning. I cashed out my retirement, I pick up side work (e.g. Uber) whenever I can, and we live as cheaply as possible. There’s still some risk involved - like what if I lose my medical? - but you have to take a chance on something if you want to pursue a dream like this.

Something to add, though… I’m still in flight school, about eight months in, and its already been a huge demand on my time. I’m not available as much due to studying and flying, and parts of the program are going to take you away for long stretches (crew and CFI school, possibly others). And it’s going to stay that way once I hit the airlines; you can have some pretty wild schedules till you build seniority.

I bring all this up to point out that if not everyone in the family is on board with this, you’re looking at problems down the road. I’ve worked weird schedules for years and we’re used to celebrating events on different days, communicating via FaceTime, etc, and I make a focused effort to spend time with them when I’m not “on the clock”. You can make this stuff work for sure, but you hear stories about a significant other not signing up for it too and getting resentful when you’re gone for Thanksgiving, a birthday, a soccer game, or just several weeks of studying at night in a row. And that leads to problems down the road. Ask some of these long time pilots about the industry’s divorce rate…

You can definitely make it work. But it takes serious effort AND buy in from all parties involved. Less than a year in and I can already tell it’s very much a lifestyle, not just a job. So far it’s been very rewarding, but I couldn’t do it without my wife and kids on board with me. You can too! But have those talks first, before taking your first flight, if this is going to be a career move and not just casual fun. I’m pretty sure all of the airline guys on here will vouch that it’s worth it.

Good luck!

Thanks TX. What are you doing for insurance? My wife and I have a plan financially but affording health insurance is puzzling to me. I looked into cobra which was more than my mortgage.

Our state insurance (i.e. Obamacare/ACA) is pretty good where I live. In comparison to not having anything, at least. So we’re riding that until I’m back on something from an employer.

I’ll be doing the same thing after retiring from the military in six years. I’ve been crunching numbers and putting together a special savings plan for when the time comes so that we can be financially stable during the months without work while in training. The way i see it is that we have a goal that we want to achieve but we need to prepare ourselves for that goal as best we can.

I understand a traditional job would be impossible but would I be able to have one weekend a month available for the Air Force reserve?


Yes. Just coordinate with flight ops and your CFI.



Absolutely. ATP respects those that serve and the commitments that come with that.