Obtaining a pilot’s license is a primary life goal for many people. For the few who continued with the pursuit of their childhood dreams, or for those who have suddenly become interested in a flying career, there are several possible paths that you must be aware of in order to obtain the necessary licensing. These options differ in structure as well as cost. The common denominator in all routes to piloting is the logging of a required number of hours in the air. How you acquire these hours will have a direct effect on flight school cost. Options include collecting private lessons over time until you have enough hours to attempt licensing, enrolling in a flight program at a professional institute or college, and earning a degree in the field. Flight school cost can range from $5,000 to $40,000 depending on the path that you determine to be appropriate for your specific situation.
There are many variables to consider when contemplating flight school cost. First you must decide what type of licensing you want to ultimately obtain.
Every pilot must be licensed for private flights. With a private pilot’s license, you can fly anywhere at any time, but you cannot be paid for doing so without completing further flight training and obtaining a commercial air license. If your end goal is to fly commercially, then you will end up paying in the area of $20,000 for sufficient training. Flight school cost for a private license is typically in the range of $5,000-$10,000. It is possible to avoid the cost of flight school all together if you are interested in a military career, but be sure to understand the cons in this situation. There is the fact that you will owe the air force ten years of service, which is likely to place you in harm’s way at some point or another. Also, there is no guarantee that you will be trained on a plane that will gain you commercial licensing. Joining the air force is an honorable thing to do but it requires more than just a commitment to flying.
The requirements for flying a helicopter are comparable to those for flying an airplane. You must achieve a certain amount of experience and education before you can fly solo (age 16 at the earliest, though training can begin at any age), and even more learning is required to fly a helicopter commercially. The cost of flight school for helicopters is in the area of $5,000-$10,000 for a technical school, and upwards of $20,000 for more formal types of education. Helicopter pilots at all levels must carry a medical certificate.
Becoming a professional pilot (meaning that you get paid for it) requires the acquisition of a commercial pilot’s license. Before someone can test for commercial licensing, they must hold a private pilot’s license.
Commercial flight school cost tends to be higher than private flight school due to the increase in responsibilities and knowledge required to be a commercial pilot. While a degree is not mandatory to obtain this type of licensing, most airline companies prefer potential pilots that have post-secondary education other than flight school alone. There are two main routes to becoming a commercial pilot. The most common path involves attending flight school of some sort until the required amount of experience is attained (usually before the course ends) and challenging the written and practical commercial pilot tests when your education has been completed. The second pathway is through the military’s air force. Military training and flight experience translate directly to commercial licensing requirements, but only if you are trained to fly something similar to commercial planes. While flight school cost can be avoided through the military route, you will be subjected to the military way of life for a minimum of ten years, with the possibility of becoming engaged in combat duty. This is obviously not a decision that anyone should take lightly.
If you feel that you have the work ethic, time, and desire to earn a private license in a short period, you may be able to enroll in an accelerated flight school. These schools offer a condensed and immersive environment that is designed to produce skilled pilots in a reduced time frame. The cost of flight school in this condensed form is comparable to the cost for a two-year program due to the dense amount of material to be covered.
Government loans are unlikely to be received for flight school unless the training is part of an undergraduate degree program. Flight school cost can be difficult to address, and it is common for a student to end up paying for all or most of the program’s fees. You should enter the process of selecting a path to becoming a pilot with a clear understanding of the large expense that is involved. The cost of flight school can possibly be addressed through certain types of group funding, and/or band loans. It is prudent to search for flight related organizations that may offer some sort of funding for students seeking education in flight.
The length of time you spend gaining the education and experience necessary to become a licensed pilot depends on the specific path that you have chosen. Obtaining the hours required for a pilot license through private classes can become very expensive. You will not only need to attain this time in the air, but will also have to partake in education on the ground. The amount of years it takes to become a pilot with private lessons can vary directly with your learning capabilities. Technical and professional programs will usually last around two years, though you may need to attain more experience following graduation in order to test for a commercial license. The longest flight programs (if you don’t count military duties) and the biggest flight school cost comes with a four year degree program. While this option is expensive, it is the most likely civilian training option to lead directly to obtaining commercial pilot’s licensing.
There is a large amount of debate about the usefulness of online flight school. One side of the argument focuses on the fact that you cannot become a certified pilot without a certain amount of practical, in the air training.
While this is true, there is also the point that a great deal of on the ground learning is a part of pilot training, and online flight schools can address these needs. The cost of flight school over the internet will be less expensive than other programs, but you will end up spending a large amount on flight lessons as well.