It’s hard to choose a career these days. It seems that many jobs are either becoming obsolete or the market is so completely saturated with recent grads that it’s impossible to land a decent position. I don’t want to spend $80,000 or more on a college degree only to end up working at Starbucks while trying to pay off student loans. After doing a lot of research into the kinds of careers that I’d be interested in and where job prospects are promising, I decided becoming a pilot would be a good option. Now I’m looking at flight training schools to see which ones I can afford.
Actually, there are two routes that I can take to become a pilot. One is to join the Air Force and go to military flight training schools. But then Uncle Sam would own me for at least five years, which is the last thing I want when there are armed conflicts going on. Still, for many folks this is a great option — primarily because instead of paying for tuition, you get paid to learn. Many commercial pilots got their start in military flight training schools, so that is definitely something to keep in mind if you can’t afford to pay your own way right now.
I prefer to stick to the civilian route, which means attending one of the many private flight training schools located around the country. Some of these flight training schools are associated with universities or colleges, while others are stand-alone institutions. I’ve read that airline pilots do not need a Bachelor’s degree; they just need the proper certifications and a minimum number of hours of actual flying time. But having a college degree can give me an edge over other candidates, so I’m probably going to try to earn one while also learning to fly. If my college courses prove to be too much of a burden, I can always drop them and postpone getting my degree for a little bit.
Tuition at flight training schools is not calculated like tuition at college. From what I understand, you have to pay for seat time on the aircraft (usually assessed by the hour). That rate depends on whether you’re getting private or dual/group instruction. In addition, students are charged a bunch of miscellaneous fees for things such as pilot handbooks, headsets, classroom instruction, exams, fuel, and more. That can add up to a lot depending on which school I actually enroll in, but I’m planning on spending close to $25,000 on the program. That’s obviously quite a bit of money, but fortunately financial aid is available at accredited flight training schools.
Anyway, I think I’m making the right decision here. Becoming a commercial airline pilot will give me a chance to have a long-term, lucrative career where I can see the world and enjoy a challenging work environment. I just need to apply to a couple of flight training schools now so I can start working on my certification.