Flight School Options
How do you decide what flight school is best for you?
Most important issues to consider:
With airlines being a Union job how does this affect me?
- Airline jobs are union jobs and seniority is everything. The sooner you get to the airlines allows you to have higher seniority than the pilots hired after you.
- The hiring wave has started and will last over 10 years as many pilots are retiring.
There is a huge number of pilots learning to fly so the sooner you get to the airlines the better your seniority. You should try to be on the beginning of the hiring wave then at the end of the hiring wave.
How do I finance my flight training?
- Bank Personal or Educational Loan
- Home Equity Loan
- Parent Personal Loan
- FAFSA College Loan
- Sallie Mae Loan
How much money should I borrow to become an airline pilot?
- The rule of thumb is to only borrow the amount of your first-year wages. So, if your first-year wages are $50,000 then that is the total amount you can borrow and expect to pay back the loan. The issue for a pilot is that for a few of years you will be flight instructing and hopefully flying for someone to build flight hours. This may only pay you $40-$50,000 per year and you may not have much money to pay back your loans. During this time, you will be accumulating interest expense on those loans. Once you get to a Regional or National Airlines you will start to make more money. In a college program if it takes 7 years to get to the airlines and you have $200,000 in loans and interest accumulating it will be difficult to service those loans.
Where should I take my training?
- – You have different options that may work better for your particular situation. These are some of your options.
- Accelerated Flight School
- Home Town Flight School
- Large Training Flight School
- College Flight School
- One Instructor Flight Training
Will I need to have a four-year degree to get to the airlines?
- Yes or No. Back in the late 70s and 80s you had to have a four-year degree, perfect eyesight, perfect weight, perfect height, and you had to know the right connection to get to the airlines. Why, this was their way to weed out people because there were so many pilots and so few airline jobs. Now we have so many airline jobs and so few pilots. Before covid many regional airlines were dropping some of the requirements. We heard comments like well as long as you’re working on a degree, we will hire you. We expect the airlines will have to reduce their requirements in order to get enough pilots. This may mean just working on a college or a associates degree but not requiring you to get one when hired. Some of the smaller airlines may not even require that.
Is it better to delay getting to the airlines 3 to 4 years later to get a college degree or is it better to get there as fast as you can?
What are the benefits of going as fast as you can program?
- You will get to the airlines 3 to 4 years sooner and start earning money sooner.
- You will have smaller loans and can flight instruct while taking college class locally or on-line.
- You can work on paying back your loans sooner.
- Your total interest costs on your loans will be less.
- If you get to the airlines 3 to 4 years sooner you will have more seniority sooner.
- At the end of your career you will be at the airlines 3 to 4 years longer at your highest pay scale.
Depending on the flight school I take how long will it take me to get through their flight programs?
- A mom and pop operation or a local flight school where you get flight instruction 2 or 3 times a week. The national average is usually around 1 to 2 years and instead of 40 to 45 hours it takes 70 to 80 hours of flight time just for the private pilot certificate. Your airplane costs may double.
- – The college system takes you almost 4 years to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI).
- – If you’re taking the Accelerated Aviation Instruction program and taking college courses you will be a CFI your freshman year.
I take all my Flight Training and College and I end up with a medical issue?
- This would be the worst nightmare for a student. If you are a student that took the college training and classes, you can end up with $200,000 ($100,000 Flight Program – $100,000 College Classes) in debt and since they only allow you to take an aviation degree that would be what you would have to fall back on if your health is a problem.
- – If you are in the Accelerated Aviation program you would only have $50-$60,000 in loans. You would be taking a College Degree locally or on-line and could continue with your degree.
If I go to college, should I take an aviation degree or another degree that I would enjoy?
- The question you should ask yourself is if you cannot get to the airlines either because of your health or other circumstances then what career would you want to be in?
- If an aviation degree is not your goal in life, then the college program is not the choice you should make. College Flight programs require you to take an aviation related degree. If the airlines are not hiring because the industry is not doing well then aviation degrees may not have jobs either. Are you putting all your eggs in one basket?
College Option – Summary
The College Flight Programs stretch out the flying to match the flying degree. So, you will get to be a flight instructor towards the end of your degree which will be 4-5 years. The college degree can cost anywhere from $95,000 to $120,000 and an additional $87,000 to $110,000 for the college flight training. Because the total costs of a college program can run beyond $200,000 most students must borrow a good chunk of that money.
The worry is if your health goes bad and it would not allow you to continue. Then what? Also, the rule of thumb about borrowing money for a career is “whatever your first-year wages will be the total amount you should borrow if you expect to pay it back”. The issue maybe that you have that debit for over 7 years before you start paying it back. The loan will collect interest during that time and interest on whatever balance you have until it is paid back.
Normally if the student is on time with their flying lessons, then the student will start earning money by the 4th year. At that point you will become a CFI and possibly a CFII or MEI. Some colleges will not allow you to instruct unless you get all 3 (CFI, CFII and MEI). After you meet their qualifications, you will start to build hours and get paid for flight instruction.
The next step is to build up the proper hours. It’s important to try to get multi-engine time to build up enough hours to be hired by a commuter, corporate or cargo company. At that point it probably would be about your 7th year from the starting point. You will eventually get your ATP and then you have a chance for the airlines to hire you.
Start to finish maybe around 8 years.
You will lose approximately $1,800,000 in your aviation career with this program.
Accelerated Aviation Instruction, LLC Option – Summary
You can take college either through an aviation degree, any other degree online or locally where you are flight instructing.
Take accelerated flight lessons and become a CFI in 4-5 months. Your cost will be about $55,000. Then start teaching and making money and then add ratings as you can. Also take college classes when you can and get to the airlines faster.
As you add ratings and experience you then move onto the commuters, corporate, or cargo company. Then after you build time and get your Air Transport Pilot you move onto the airlines. You will get to the airlines usually about 3 years sooner. The 3 years sooner gives you more seniority than pilots coming after you. That also means you will get to collect wages 3 years longer at the end of your career when you’re at your highest salary. You have a better chance of being promoted to captain sooner as you will be closer to the front of the hiring wave. All this means you will make approximately $1,800,000 more in your career.
Accelerated Aviation Instruction
Want to make an extra
College vs Accelerated Aviation Instruction Programs
1- College data came from real colleges
2- College 1 and 2 are two examples of current college programs
3- Minimum hours for the part 141 schools
4- Using actual college data – the approximate average hours for students to complete ratings
5- Amount of time it takes to go from 0 hours to CFI
6- Assumes only an increase of $1000 per year increase in college costs
7- Assumes instructing to make $44,000 per year as a CFI full time. Many college programs will not allow you to be an instructor until you have CFI, CFII and MEI.
8- Accelerated Training program matches close to the same way the military and airlines train their pilots. 0 to CFI in 5 Months.
9- It is difficult to know how much of a pilot’s salary will go to paying off a loan so we assume in all programs that all the income will go to pay off the loans except housing costs. This is done for simplicity and is fair to all programs equally. After the 7th year for the college programs, we no longer show the costs/payments to pay off the loan. You can add those expenses as you desire which will increase the expenses and will increase the costs for the college programs.
10- The rule of thumb for taking on debt for education is the following: You should not borrow for education more than what your first years wages are if you expect to pay back your loans.
11- Assumes you spend 2.5 years instructing and then 1 year in the commuter, freight hauling or other professional programs. Then onto the airlines.
12- Accelerated Aviation Instruction Program will get you to the airlines 3 years sooner. You will have an associate degree. You will work at the end of your career 3 years longer since the mandatory retirement is 65.
13- Assumes that you will be a co-pilot for 5 years before becoming a Captain. If because of delay in college program you may be a co-pilot for more than 5 years, especially if you are in the middle or end of the hiring wave/bubble. In past hiring bubbles, the people who were at the end of the hiring bubble were Co-Pilots for 20 years before becoming a Captain.