If you hear “wheels-up” in your dreams and have a passion for flying in your gut, now is the perfect time to consider a career in aviation, especially with a projected need for close to 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years. If that could be your goal, you might ask, “What’s the average cost to obtain a commercial pilot’s license?”
Vince Lombardi would tell you, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
While he was talking about football, the same is true in the pursuit of any career, including one as a commercial pilot. The path that lies between you and a new career as a commercial pilot is one that takes that same dedication and determination. Before getting into the costs involved, let’s outline what will be required for you to get that license.
Researching flight schools in your area is one of the first steps. This will help you decide which option suits you best: a fast-track program, or a program where you earn a degree. There are flight schools, like J.A. Flight Training, who offer two uniquely different career paths.
One is run exclusively through J.A. Flight Training–a 12-month, accelerated program that includes a follow-up interview with Skywest Airlines and an internship with Southern Airways. This Career Pilot Program is a one-of-a-kind opportunity due to J.A.’s ownership in Southern Airways and their agreement with Skywest Airlines, and can have you flying with the airlines in 18 months. There is no faster or cheaper way to become a commercial pilot.
The other option is to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree online through the Liberty University Flight Training Program while completing your FAA flight ratings through J.A. Flight Training, located at Aurora Airport. This program can be completed in 30 months and is perfect for those who need financial assistance such as scholarships, grants, financial aid, low-interest student loans, and parent-plus loans.
If J.A. Flight School isn’t close to you, there will likely be flight schools near your location, and you should check to see which one will best meet your needs.
There are basic requirements that must be met to get your commercial pilot’s license. You must be 18 or older, have good communication skills, pass a physical exam (including an eye exam), be able to demonstrate the aeronautical knowledge you have gained through school and training, and show logbook endorsements from a certified instructor that verifies your level of experience.
The medical requirements for those who wish to fly professionally are more stringent than for recreational pilots, and you must apply for an FAA first-class medical certificate through an aeromedical examiner.
Another step is applying for a student pilot certificate through the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application. This isn’t required to take flying lessons but will be in order to fly solo during your training. If you choose J.A. Flight School, they will help you arrange obtaining both certificates.
Train to Become a Private Pilot First
This training means you will be learning not only flight basics, but you will also learn a great deal of detailed information on maneuvering, communications, and airplane operations and maintenance. Specifically, this training includes flight training lessons and obtaining aeronautical knowledge, followed by passing the private pilot knowledge test and the private pilot practical exam, both oral and flight portions.
Log Flight Hours
To qualify for a commercial pilot’s license, you must have 250 flying hours covering various situations, including solo, and 100 as pilot-in-command. You are also required to pilot a plane with designated gear, complete your instrument training, make a specific number of takeoffs and landings, and have 50 hours of cross-country flight time in both day and night conditions.
Pass Required FAA Exams
The FAA requires you to pass the FAA Practical Test before you can become a licensed commercial pilot. This will include an oral exam that takes about two hours, a flight portion that will take about an hour-and-a-half, and a written exam.
Flying for Commercial Airlines
If you are interested in flying for a commercial airline, you must be 21 and will need to log 1,500 hours of flight time and pass the FAA’s Airline Transport Pilot’s certification exam (ATP CTP), the Airline Transport Pilot Multi-Engine (ATM) knowledge test, and the practical exam.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) article on How to Become an Airline or Commercial Pilot, “To make up the gap between paying for training and flying for the major airlines, many commercial pilots begin their careers as flight instructors and on-demand charter pilots. These positions typically require less experience than airline jobs require. When pilots have built enough flying hours, they can apply to the airlines. Newly hired pilots at regional airlines are typically required to have about 1,500 hours of flight experience. Many commercial piloting jobs have minimum requirements of around 500 hours.”
About Our Flight Training Programs
J.A. Flight Training is conveniently based in Chicago’s western suburb, Sugar Grove. No matter which career path you follow—pursuing a bachelor of science degree through our partnership with Liberty University, or our accelerated, 12-month program, you can count on experiential learning with the most up-to-date equipment, flight simulators, and aircraft.
We are proud to offer world-class training that prepares our students for a successful future as a pilot through flexible classes and affordable programs. When it comes to the cost to obtain a commercial pilot’s license through J.A. Flight Training, it costs $70,000 to $80,000 for the accelerated program (cash-based payments). If you require a program that will offer grants, scholarships, and financial aid packages, then you should opt for our program with Liberty University.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook for Airline and Commercial Pilots, on the BLS website, reports the median pay for pilots in 2018 was $115,670, a salary that quickly repays your educational investment.
Contact us for more information on our flight training programs, and let us get you started on a new career path today!