How Much Does Flight School Cost?
Aviation School Prices
There are several different types of pilots, from the recreational flier to the professional airline pilot. Before you start looking at flight schools, it's important to decide what kind of pilot you want to be. Do you want to fly for fun? Pilot small charter flights? Captain a commercial airline?
Different licenses are available, including:
- Student licenses for pilots-in-training
- Sport pilot licenses, which allow for the operation of light aircraft only
- Recreational licenses, allowing a pilot to operate up to a four-seater, but only during the day
- Private licenses, which allow the pilot to fly planes larger than a four-seater, but prohibit charging passengers for flights
- Commercial licenses, allowing a pilot to single-pilot or co-pilot an aircraft for hire
Depending on the type of license you seek, pilot programs can take a few months all the way up to four years for bachelor's degree programs, which are usually recommended for those who want to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. All programs require a combination of “ground school,” or classroom work, and in-flight training.
The Cost of Flight School
There are several different ways to go about obtaining a commercial pilots license. If you choose to attend a four-year college or university that offers an aviation major, plan on spending a total of $100,000 or more. Tuition for some programs runs upwards of $30,000 a year. The advantage is that you will graduate with a bachelor's degree and all of the required flight certifications.
Or, you can pursue a commercial license at a private school. It's difficult to nail down an exact cost for private schools because flight schools advertise their prices based on varying criteria. Generally, plan to invest $40,000-$60,000 and up to one or two years. Well-known flight schools can cost up to $80,000. Keep in mind, though, that most airlines will also want to see that you have a bachelor's degree. So if you choose to pursue that separately, don't forget to factor in the cost.
- ATP, a nationally accredited flight school with various locations nationwide, charges $39,995 for 90-day fast track program. The 150-day program, which allows more flexible for students who need to work while in school, costs $48,490. Self-paced programs are more expensive.
- Phoenix East Aviation, another nationally accredited school, charges $54,190 for a commercial license. That includes the fees for ground school, books and all written exams. A private pilot's license is a prerequisite of the program.
A private pilot's license is far less expensive, typically running $3,000-$10,000.
If you can't afford the cost of commercial pilot training, considering pursuing a pilot's license in the military. Training is free, but you will have to serve in the military afterward. The U.S. Air Force requires pilot's to serve for a minimum of 10 years.
Factors That Influence The Cost of Flight School
Unlike other types of schools, your schedule and preferences have a lot of influence over the total cost of flight school. Remember, the faster you train, the less expensive the overall bill will be. Influencing factors include:
- How many lessons per week you can do
- How much time you have outside of class to study
- Whether you're full-time or part-time
- The local climate – how often will bad weather cancel a lesson?
- The type of plane you use to learn
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