How Much Does It Cost to Become a Pilot in 2024? 

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Pilot

An aviation career may be both challenging and rewarding. It can also come with many perks such as free air travel, medical insurance, paid vacation time airline-employee discounts, and many more. Moreover, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects average annual openings of 16,800 for airline and commercial pilots, over the next decade. If you’re passionate about pursuing a career as a pilot but keep asking how much is flight school, we want you to know that the price is simply an investment.

Imagine how fulfilling it’ll be to pursue your passion and also earn a decent salary doing it. Typically, employment of airline and commercial pilots is expected to expand as demand for air travel rises. Furthermore, as a pilot, you might make an average of $211,700 every year. Hence, deciding to pursue a profession in aviation will be worthwhile. 

However, if you want to become a pilot, you should understand what you need to accomplish to complete your training. So in this piece, you will learn how much is flight school, what it takes to become a pilot, and how you may become one.

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Salary of a Pilot 

An airplane pilot’s income varies depending on the company’s size, experience, qualification, and location. According to the BLS, the median annual income for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers in 2022 was $211,780.

In addition to a base salary, airline pilots often receive benefits such as free air travel, medical insurance, paid vacation time, and airline employee discounts. Some companies provide “buddy passes” for airplane tickets, which are generally free or subsidized for family members. 

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Pilot?

If you are among those asking how much is flight school, we’d like to let you know that the cost of becoming a pilot varies greatly depending on criteria such as location, aircraft type, and training program. So, let’s take a closer look at various types of pilots and their respective costs.

Types of Pilot Licenses

The following are the types of pilot licenses, their cost, and requirements:

#1. Private Pilot License (PPL)

Just as the name implies, a private pilot license (PPL) allows you to fly any aircraft for noncommercial purposes. In general, to obtain this license, you must complete ground school in addition to at least 35 to 40 hours of flight time as required by the Federal Aviation Administration. The cost for obtaining your PPL ranges between $15,000 and $20,000.

#2. Commercial Pilot License (CPL)

A commercial pilot license (CPL) allows you to receive compensation for aviation activities like aerial tours, traffic reporting, and charter flights. Also, you can work in non-flying related roles, such as aircraft maintenance or flight schedule management. Furthermore, those with a PPL license can get their CPL after completing between 190 and 250 flight hours. The average cost to become a commercial pilot ranges between $75,000 and $100,000.

#3. Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)

An ATPL is considered the highest level of certification, and it is a license that most major airlines require to work for them. Furthermore, obtaining this license will provide you with more opportunities to fly for income. 

What Qualities Do You Need to Become a Pilot?

Typically, a career as a pilot is both mentally and physically demanding, which is why it’s important to be sure that this career path is right for you before you begin training. So having known how much is flight school, let’s look at some personal traits that may indicate you’re a suitable candidate for pilot training.

  • Passion for flight and aviation: To enhance your chances of becoming a successful pilot, you must have a passion for flight and the aviation industry.
  • Communication skills: To become successful in your career as a pilot, you must have good listening and speaking skills. This will enable you to convey information to air traffic controllers, and other crew members, and to also listen carefully for instructions.
  • Observational skills: Pilots regularly watch over screens, gauges, and dials to make sure that all systems are in working order. So you must have a good observational skill to maintain situational awareness and spot obstacles. 
  • Problem-solving skills: To be a successful pilot, you must be able to quickly identify complex problems and figure out appropriate solutions. 
  • Quick reaction time: You must be able to respond quickly, and with good judgment, to any impending danger.

How to Become a Pilot 

If you’ve considered how much is flight school and you’re ready to start your aviation career, here is how to become a pilot:

#1. Earn an FAA-Approved Bachelor’s Degree 

Most major airline companies require a bachelor’s degree in aviation or a related field when applying for jobs as an airline pilot. Hence, if you plan to pursue a career as an airline pilot, you will need to attend an FAA-authorized institution. Here you will take aviation-related coursework to earn a degree and receive pilot training at the same time. 

#2. Obtain a Private Pilot License

To earn a private pilot license, you’ll need to learn basic flight methods, aircraft maneuvers, navigation, flight planning, and emergency training. Once you have this certification, you are legally allowed to fly a plane. 

#3. Acquire an Instrument Rating

Generally, flying for an airline entails reading and using instruments. Hence, after earning your basic pilot certificate, you will need to learn how to operate sophisticated machinery that steers a plane through various weather conditions and heights. Similarly, this certification will educate you on how to communicate with air traffic controllers and the National Airspace System.

#4. Obtain a Commercial Pilot License

A commercial pilot license permits pilots to fly goods or people for pay. As a result, after obtaining this certification, you have legal rights to work in search and rescue, passenger flights, and freight deliveries. Furthermore, in this category, you can receive further training to obtain ratings for each type of airplane you wish to fly. 

#5. Get a Flight Instructor Certificate 

Typically, most airlines require a certain number of flying hours before you can apply to be a First Officer. As a result, many pilots decide to become flight teachers to obtain expertise and flight hours. Moreover, working as a flight instructor is a good way to quickly accumulate the flight hours and experience required to work as an airline pilot. Thus, you could earn an income while also working long hours.

#6. Add a Multi-Engine Rating

To fly the planes used by passenger airlines, pilots are required to prove that they can fly large planes with multiple engines. Hence, you will be required to earn an additional rating for their commercial license. Furthermore, training for this certification entails studying what to do in the event of a single-engine failure and operating these large planes in all aspects of flight.

#7. Gain Experience and Flight Hours

To become an airline pilot, you have to log a lot of hours in the air. The minimum number of total flight hours required by the FAA is 1,500. Consequently, you can accomplish this through training programs, flight instruction, and employment as a commercial pilot.

#8 Earn an Airline Transport Pilot Certification

An airline transport pilot (ATP) certification is the highest licensing the FAA issues. To acquire this certification, you must have more than the minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience. Likewise, you must have particular flight hours logged, such as pilot in command (PIC), nighttime flying, and cross-country PIC. 

Furthermore, to earn an ATP certification, prospective airline pilots must also pass medical examinations. Hence, pilots must have a first-class medical exam to act as a pilot in command and a second-class medical exam to be second in command.

#9. Apply for Jobs 

After completing flight school and meeting all FAA criteria, you can apply to work as a first officer for an airline. Although airlines operate on a ranking system, you will begin as a first officer and advance to captain after at least two years of service.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Much Is Flight School 

How expensive is it to be a pilot?

Becoming a pilot can be costly. Typically, training costs for a private pilot license range from $15,000 to $20,000, while costs for commercial pilot licenses can be above $70,000. 

How long does it take to become a pilot? 

Obtaining a private pilot license can take around 3-6 months, while achieving a commercial pilot license may require 18 months to 2 years. 

How hard is it to become a pilot?

Becoming a pilot is a challenging and rigorous procedure that involves dedication, effort, and hard work. However, the level of difficulty differs across individuals, depending on criteria such as cost, rigorous training capacity, prior aviation experience, and personal commitment. So, with a strong work ethic and a passion for aviation, you may effectively complete the process.

What is the age requirement to become a pilot?

To obtain a private pilot license, you generally need to be at least 17 years old and 18 for a commercial pilot license. 

Is a pilot license worth the cost?

Well, the value of a pilot license depends on your passion for aviation and career goals. Hence, if flying brings you joy and you aim for an aviation career, it can be worth the cost. Moreover, an aviation career can be financially rewarding.


Although becoming a pilot can be mentally, and financially demanding as it requires various rigorous training processes. However, the delight of pursuing your passion and earning a decent income from it can not be compared to the hardship of training. Besides, the entire employment of airline and commercial pilots is expected to expand over the next decade. So, if you have an interest in the aviation industry, you can take the steps outlined in this post to begin your professional journey.

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Reference – Airline pilot career outlook – How much does it cost to become a pilot