The demand for more commercial pilots seems to increase every year, and forecasts over the next 20 years are unprecedented. Boeing estimates the global demand for pilots over the next twenty years will be upwards of 635,000. In the U.S. alone over 80,000 pilots will retire over the next twenty years.
However, the path to becoming an airline pilot can be daunting, particularly the cost of training. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce that cost or receive some financing.
Before we dig into ways to pay for flight training, however, here’s a few tips on reducing the cost.
How to Reduce the Cost of Flight Training
First and foremost, do your homework. Identify all of the flight schools in your area and even consider some of the larger flight schools you could travel to for training. Compare the types of planes they fly, their rates, their instructor rates and what their pass rate looks like.
Once you start your training, make it frequent and consistent. When you train regularly the material sticks and you’ll progress more quickly. In addition, make sure you study on your own time. The more studying you do on your own the less time you’ll need to spend with an instructor who is charging you by the hour.
Treat your training as an actual job and you’ll save money over the course of your training.
Ways to Pay for Flight Training
If you're headed to the airlines you'll need 1,500 hours of flight time and several ratings and certificates. All of these carry a hefty price tag.
Fortunately, if you don't have the funds upfront to pay for it there are options available. Here's a few common ways pilots pay for flight training when they, or a family member can't cover the cost.
If you’re attending a university in conjunction with your flight training there are many scholarships available to you. Just talk with your counselor or finance office to get more info.
If you’re not attending a university while flight training there are still some scholarship opportunities but they aren’t quite so plentiful. Start by checking with the AOPA. You can also check out the FAA’s giant list of aviation scholarships.
Here at Thrust Flight we also offer a flight training scholarship that opens up for applications a couple times a year.
Loans and Financing Options
Taking out a loan for your flight training is something to consider very carefully. If you’re pursuing a career in aviation it may be worthwhile to take out a loan in order to get your training done quickly.
By training full time you'll be able to get all the training completed in a much shorter period of time and, like mentioned above, your training is typically completed faster.
Your goal should be to get to the airlines in 2 years from the time you start training.
If you’re pursuing a career in aviation be sure to head over to our Zero Time to Airline page and take a look.
For information on financing your Zero Time to Airline program, check out our financing page.
If you’re pursuing flight training as a recreational pilot, it may be better to save up rather than taking out a loan to pay for training.
One route some people choose is to enter the military with the hope of doing their flight training.
This can be a challenging route as you don’t necessarily get to decide if you’ll be a pilot or not. The choice is often made for you.
However, if you were in the military previously or are currently, you can use the tuition assistance program to pay for your flight training.
You can also use your GI Bill to help pay for advanced flight training, however, you must have your private pilot license first. The GI Bill can help pay for your training whether you are doing it through a private or public university or vocational training.
If you’re interested in learning more about the requirements visit the VA website.
Bonus Tip: Work at a Flight School
Many flight schools will give their employees a discounted rate on their training. Check in with local flight schools to see if this is something they offer. Then, keep your eye out for job opportunities at those schools.
You don’t necessarily need to be working for them as a pilot in order to receive discounted training so you don’t need to wait until you become a CFI.
You could work the front desk, work as a dispatcher, or any other number of jobs needed around a flight school and still receive the discounted training.
If you're looking, be sure to check out our careers page to see if we have any open positions.