When To Start

I am currently working as a truck driver while completing my BS in Business Administration online. I should be done with the degree within 16 months, and at that time I will have around $25k in my savings.

My question is, should I take out a full financing loan and start with ATP when I finish my degree, and use the $25k to live off of (It would last me over 18 months) and buy necessary items for Flight Training OR should I continue to work as a truck driver for another 2.5-3 years to get enough saved up to pay in cash for my flight training? I make around $52k/yr and have pretty low cost of living, so I could easily get the required money plus money to live on within that time, but I don’t know if delaying the start of my career as a pilot and damaging seniority/hours that I could have been accruing at a regional would be worth not paying 20-30k in interest by the time that I pay off the student loan.

If it helps, I am 23 now, 2 months from 24.

Any advice from the mentors? Thanks!


That’s a very complicated way of asking should I start now? Or wait until I
have enough money to pay cash? Frankly, I can’t answer that, Doug. Start
now, or wait. Do what is right for you. The quicker you start the better,
but there are no guarantees and anything could cause the airlines to stop
hiring at any moment. But right now the regionals are hiring like crazy.

What I want to know is what have you done to ensure that flying is the
right career for you? Do you have any flight experience? Have you taken a
discovery flight? Do you have anyone in your family that flies for a living?

I think it is important to have a plan, and if I could pay for part of if
not all of my flight training in cash, I would have, but I didn’t. I still
owe the full amount of my loan and I can honestly say that it was worth it.
For me it was less about the money and more about becoming an airline pilot.


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As far as I’m concerned your question is simply a matter of numbers. While many careers vary in length, pilots have a finite amount of time in their careers. You must retire by age 65, end of story. What that means is every year you wait is one less you have to fly. Since senior Capts at Majors earn over $300k a year, every year delay is worth $300k you’ll never see. Ever. While paying cash and having no debt is great, I don’t believe it justifies the lost wages. Not to mention since EVERYTHING at the airlines is based on SENIORITY, the sooner you start the better.




I personally would not wait the extra time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking out loans for education, if I hadn’t taken mine out I certainly would not be where I am today. A lot can change in three years, the industry could improve or decline, but thousands of people will be hired before you. Entering the airlines three years later will have a huge negative affect on your career prospects. It will affect when you upgrade, when you can fly larger airplanes, even your monthly schedules. I wouldn’t wait.


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