Will I be able to make any money while in flight school/training?

Just a little background on me, my name is Dathan and I am from Indiana. I am 23 years old and I am strongly considering following my dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot. My biggest concern is that when I go to flight school and start my training how I will be able to still pay my bills. If anyone had any insight on this from being in a similar situation any advice will help! Also, once I become a pilot what kind of a life can I expect to have?

Thanks ahead of time for any and all answers and I hope that everyone has a great day!

Happy flying!

Hi Dathan and Welcome!

That depends on where you go for your training. I assume since you’re asking you’re considering ATP which is a fulltime flight school and if you are honestly it’s going to be tough. ATP is set up to train you the way the airlines do and that means pretty much every day. You’ll have weekends off so you could work then but you will have homework and studying to do. The other option is training part time at your local flight school. Problem with that is it will take you 3, 4 times as long and end up costing you a whole lot more due to the lack of consistency which is crucial. If you can figure out a way to train full time it’s really a much better way to go. It will get you in a position to make money and build time as a pilot (instructor) faster and inevitably it will get you to an airline where you can start building time and experience to get to a Major, so in the long run you’ll end up making a lot more money. That all said I understand not everyone cam just take 5 mos off from life and if you truly want to be a pilot you have to do what works for you.

Just some things to think about?



Thank you for the response! I am trying to figure out a way to be able to make up for the 5-6 months that I will spend training!

Did any of the mentors here find time to do side jobs as an instructor at ATP? Taking 6 months of no salary and then a pay cut as an instructor is something i’m not looking forward to. ATP says weekends off, is that a true statement so that one can make a schedule for income on the side? These loan repayments are insane!

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I think that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to work a side job while you are instructing or going through the program as a student. As a student you will need just about every spare minute to study and when you are finished with that you might want to rest your brain for a bit. I found some time to explore an old Civil War battlefield (Manassas) near where I trained, but that was about it.

I believe that ATP does guarantee weekends off, but many instructors chose to waive that so they can get extra flight hours and get to the airlines. I would sure work weekends flying if I was in that position now.

I understand that the thought of six months with no income can be scary, it sure would be for me, but you have to keep in mind the long term benefits of making this change. Some short term pain will really pay off in the long run.




Thanks for the response. I understand that the program is intense, just want to get an idea of the sacrifices i’m going to have to make in trimming down the monthly expenses before training. Appreciate the insight!


Anytime, keep the questions coming.


Yes. I’m flying tomorrow with my instructor to make up for time lost due to weather this week.

The training center and the aircraft will be available for use on the weekends, but it is between the student and the instructor to decide whether to work on the weekend or not. The instructors are not obligated to work on weekends, but most do. You can ask to be assigned to an instructor that usually works on the weekends if that is what you plan on doing.


As a student, if you fly the weekends, wouldn’t that accelerate your time? I also understand DPE are not always available, does that give you “free” time in between ratings.


Yes and yes. By flying weekends (unless you’re catching up for bad weather or cramming for a checkride) could accelerate your training BUT there’s still this DPE shortage so there’s only so far you could advance. Keep in mind you’re still only talking 9 months to earn your PPL, CPL, Instrument Rating, Multi rating and all 3 CFIs. While it may free up some of your time, we’re talking a few extra days off so I wouldn’t plan any vacations mid training :slight_smile: