How to Become an Airline Pilot

How Much Does It Cost to Become an Airline Pilot

Airline Pilot Being Trained by Instructor

If you are looking to get your piece of the exciting and lucrative aviation industry one question that you likely have is how much does it cost to become an airline pilot. 

The airlines are paying better than ever, it has truly become a modern day gold rush! There are people leaving their careers and college degrees behind to start pilot training. With starting pay close to 6 figures and top pay reaching over half a million per year it is no wonder why. 

What many people don’t realize is that you no longer have to take out hundreds of thousands in student loans and go back to school for several years to become a pilot.

How Much Does Training Cost To Become an Airline Pilot?

There is a lot to consider when determining how much it will cost to become an airline pilot. First is the training itself. This includes aircraft rental and instruction. While this will vary a bit between schools a couple things are pretty consistent. 

You will have time in the airplane both solo and with an instructor which is called dual. Most programs focused on getting you to the airlines will include 295 hours. This would include 250 hours to get through your commercial pilot certificate, 25 hours for multi-engine training and the rest for working towards instructor certificates. 

You can expect 300 – 400 hours of total instruction throughout your training. This will include both instruction in the aircraft as well as ground instruction. 

If your flight school charges just $180/hour for single engine aircraft rental (Most schools are more) and $400/hour for multi engine aircraft rental then the aircraft use alone will cost $58,600.

Many schools are charging more and more for instruction these days, if we figure $70/hour for instruction at 350 hours we have another $24,500.

Of course these are not the only expenses associated with becoming a pilot.

How Much Do Books and Material Cost?

There is a lot to learn when training to become an airline pilot. As should be expected this means a lot of books covering everything from how airplanes and systems work, how weather develops, to the rules and regulations associated with flying.  

There is also some special equipment that must be acquired and used throughout your training, notably a headset and an iPad among many other smaller items. 

Most flight schools will also include some form of online ground school to supplement your learning and in person ground instruction. 

You can expect to pay anywhere from $6,000 – $8,000 for all of the books, online courses, and equipment you will need to acquire your licenses. 

How Much Do The Tests and Check Rides Cost?

While training to become an airline pilot you will take many different tests. These tests include written tests, oral tests and practical tests. The oral and practical tests are combined into what we call  check rides. 

Each license and rating will require to you pass each test with the exception of the multi-engine commercial which doesn’t require a written test, however for Certified Flight Instructor you will be required to complete two written tests, the FOI (Fundamentals of Instruction) and FIA (Flight Instructor Airplane).

Written tests are administered by a third party and prices may vary depending on what part of the country you complete your training in.  Here in Iowa each written test is $175. 

Check rides are completed with what is called a DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner). Again these are third party individuals authorized by the FAA to perform check rides. They set their own pricing which can range anywhere from $800 – $1600 per check ride. 

Consider you will need to complete these items for each license or rating the fees can add up quickly!

Expect to pay Between $10,000 – $11,000 for all check rides and written tests.

Something important to note when shopping for a flight school is these expenses are not included in the price!

Since they are done by third parties and prices vary significantly these costs  are on top of your flight training expenses. 

How Much Will Housing Cost While Training to Become an Airline Pilot?

This is something a lot of people fail to consider. Most airline training programs are full time meaning it will be very difficult to work full time while in training. So you need to determine where you will stay and how you will pay for housing expenses. 

If you are fortunate enough to stay with a family member while completing your training then you don’t need to worry about adding on this cost. 

However if you are relocating to the school you will need to plan accordingly. 

We offer our students fully furnished housing which includes your own bedroom and bathroom for an all inclusive price of just $1200 per month. This includes all utilities and internet service. 

9 months of housing will total $10,800.

How Much Are Taxes for Airline Pilot Training?

Many states charge sales tax on aircraft rental and instruction. When looking at programs that are close to $100,000 it’s important to keep in mind tax can add up to a significant chunk of change!

Just 5% is going to add an additional $5,000 to your total cost.

Look up the state you plan to attend training in to determine if you will also owe sales tax on top of the training price!

How to Determine the True Cost To Become an Airline Pilot

To determine the true cost of becoming an airline pilot you first need to find a school that offers a fixed cost price. This means you know exactly what you will get for a set amount of money. Most of these schools will honor that price once you are enrolled in the program.

If you are paying hourly, the prices will inevitably go up for both aircraft rental and instruction. This means you will end up paying significantly more than originally quoted as small increases in prices have a big impact on the final number. 

Once you have found a school with fixed cost pricing the next step is to determine what is all included. 

For example with our Fixed Cost Fast Track Airline Program, we include all of the equipment (except for an iPad), books, materials, online ground schools, one on one flight and ground instruction, and 295 hours of flight time!

If the program you are looking at does not include things like a headset, books, and online ground schools you will need to add at least $7,000 to the program price. 

Next you need to add the check ride & written test fees. A good budget for this is $10,000. 

What about housing, will you need furnished housing or do you have a family member you can stay with?

And finally add any sales tax. 

Now you will have the total cost of becoming an airline pilot. 

How Much It Costs To Become an Airline Pilot

Here is a total breakdown of how much it costs to become an airline pilot by utilizing US Flight Co’s Fixed Costs Fast Track Airline Pilot Program to complete your training. 

Total Cost to Become an Airline Pilot

  • 84,995 – Fast Track Airline Pilot Program (Includes all materials)
  • 499 – iPad mini
  • 9,850 – 3rd Party Check Ride & Testing Fees
  • 5,949 – Sales Tax

Total Cost: $101,293

Best Value


Anthony Fowler | Co-Founder of US Flight Co. Avatar

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