The Real Deal: the price to become an airline pilot!

Simulator sessions
To maintain your skills and self confidence you have to go to the simulator now and then. I guess once a month should be fine. If you want to have proof and show any company that you actually kept your skills up to date, you have to fly in a certified fixed base simulator, at least €250,- an hour. If you only want to train your procedures you can rent a non certified Fixed Base simulator at around €100,- an hour.

Airline interview

The airline interview is an also something you should take into account. You have to go to there, book the hotel, book the flight and sometimes there is a fee to take part in the selection process. Since most airlines invite you for their selection procedure only a week before it’s taking place it leads to tickets and hotels being very expensive because of the last minute reservations. If you are lucky, the selection takes 1 day. Some airlines have more rounds and in that case you have to go there several times. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes you are required to pay an entrance fee. This fee varies a lot. For example: CityJet asks €500,- for one interview day and EasyJet 200 pounds for the first round. As you can see, these are amounts of money which you never expected to pay while you were signing the training contract years ago. In Europe you have to invest a lot of time and money before you take place in the right seat of a commercial aircraft.

Type Rating
image1123And there is moreeeee! 😉 We did not talk about another significant expense, the Type Rating. Right now it is considered ‘normal’ to pay for your own type rating. In paradise, about 10 years ago, airlines paid the Type Rating for pilots. These days?  €25.000,- for a Boeing 717 Type Rating (Yes, those aircraft still exist!) ,€30.000,- for a Boeing 737-800 and €40.000,-/€50.000,- for an Airbus 320 is now quite common. As you can imagine this is another loan on top of the loan you already have.

Best job in the world!
With this article I hope to inform people about this profession and what it is really like. I did not write this article to be negative or to discourage you, even though it might sound like that. At the time I signed the contract I did not know what kind of expenses I was going to deal with. With this article I hope to give you a little bit of insight. Understand that, this loan will haunt you until you are maybe 20 years older from now, if you are lucky. There are quite some people nowadays that do not know what to do with their lives because they had this amazing dream and found out it was not do-able anymore because of all these costs. The weight of the loan became too much for them, maintaining their skill impossible and in turn losing their license because of it all.

As a pilot, you will earn a lot of money, in the end. However, before we get their we need to spend some serious cash. When most young people start thinking about buying a house, pilots start thinking about their loan and  how long it takes to earn all that money back. For most of us it is about passion and willing to work. Not about making money and living the relaxed life. Of course there are always exceptions but I am not talking about these right now haha!

Maybe after reading this article you are like… ‘W**?! Why would anyone want and choose this?’ How strange it might sound, in my opinion all these expenses do not outweigh the benefits. After all these years in training and being unemployedimage21212, I always tried to deal with the costs. I never had one day in my life where I questioned myself whether I made a good decision or not. Until this day I am still very happy that I chose this profession and I truly love this industry. Nowadays I sit in the cockpit looking outside and thinking about how glad and grateful I am to have a profession like this. I love everything about flying and I think it is worth the money. In the end you will earn good money and everything is fine again… The first years of a pilot are just not that glamorous as you might have hoped for. As we say in Dutch: The first years you have to bite though the sour apple haha 😉 (bite the bullet)

Pilot training € 150.000,-
Interest Loan € 600,- /month
Simulator sessions € 250,- /months
Medical € 200,- /year
Insurance € 400,- /year
ME/IR € 1000,- /year
SEP € 450,- /year
Airline Interview € 1000,- /interview
Type Rating € 30.000,-
Total initial costs € 180.000,-
Total annual costs  € 12.950,-


53 thoughts on “The Real Deal: the price to become an airline pilot!

  1. Dear Michelle.

    You are amazing and a goddess and thank you for sharing your experiences and insights, such an inspiration to myself and many others, I’m sure!!!

    After reading through these messages, I noticed the common thread in many seems to be about money, or rather the lack thereof. I have empathy for everyone out there who is struggling to find the resources necessary to become a pilot, frankly just to survive generally can be tough. What I love most about your story is that you are showing people that it is not money that counts, it is literally your “mindset” that will carry you through.

    Thanks to your candid approach, readers can understand that it takes years of determination, resilience and sheer grit to attain the level of success as you have, you have been successful! I’m sure there have been many times throughout your training and career when you were tempted to give up and yet you have pushed through. Imagine working your who life towards your dream, a dream that has cost you dearly, only to run headlong into a pandemic that effectively ends your career indefinitely, wow what a blow!

    But folks, take a step back and look at the situation, education is an investment, it’s always been an investment and a good education has always cost money, so no matter what it is that you have done, even if you have no education at all, the cost is real. No education will cost you your entire life, this called an opportunity cost and is measure in loss of potential earnings so find another way if it’s really what you want. Dream, plan, do.

    Thank you Michelle for serendipitously showing us all to run and fight after our dreams, and peeps, whatever you do, your biggest reward is received when you do something you love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!xx

    Respect and admiration,

  2. A lot of money is involved to get and maintain the pilot license. €105.000,- for the school and about €45.000,- for ‘living’ + medical investigation €200 per year for a medical certificate + insurance costs about €400 per year + Multi-engine instrument rating (ME/IR) renewal costs €1000 per year + Single Engine Piston (SEP) costs €300 per 2 years and the rent of the airplane per hour + landing fees (varying between €120,- and €200,-) + Loan & interest 4.9% of interest (150.000 X 0.049) / 12 = €600 per year. So, we have the basic cost of the pilot training €150.000 + €2500 per year just to maintain the certificate. Wow, it is not an easy thing to be a pilot. I wonder if for the rotor – gyroplane – the expenses are the same. I would be more than happy if you could advise me on this one. Thanks!

  3. Hey i really love your videos you are really helpful.
    I’m Danish Baig from India and i will pass my high school in few months with Physics, Mathematics and English.
    I want to be an airline pilot i want to do my CPL from CAE Phoenix but I’m very confused the course of Phoenix have PPL , IR , CPL and CFI CFII I’m really confused what is CFI and CFII is it necessary or after CPL i can directly do type rating and what is ATP CTP writing exams and training and after the type rating how i will get the job as first officer and few people are talking about ATPL or frozen ATPL but for ATPL we need 1500 hours every single day i have a bad headache when i think all about this I’m so confused i request you ma’am please help me please tell me what should i do please i request you .

    I hope you are safe and healthy

  4. hi my name is yada marie and I am about to become a pilot . my question is how many years does it take to become a pilot in the Netherlands?

  5. I’ve been an engineer for the last 27 years but I ‘hate’ my career. About 15 years ago I decided I want to be a pilot but then I found out the extortionate training costs which were well out of my reach. After some time I applied for a sponsored training program (CTC Wings) but I only got to stage 2 out of 4. The selection process was very tough, there were around 100 applicants in stage 2 but only 4 would be selected for the final stage. I was not allowed to re-apply due to my age (29 at the time). I’m now 43 and have a mortgage and I’m also a single parent (non-resident). There is absolutely no way I could afford to pay back the loan repayments, in addition to my mortgage and child maintenance, as well as the living costs whilst training for 2 years. Effectively I would have to take on a second mortgage but with no income. My hobby is skydiving (I even struggle to pay for this!) so I know lots of pilots, but I have no idea how they afford it (I know one pilot who’s parents paid for his training – unfortunately my parents aren’t that rich). I’ve been fascinated with aviation for a very long time, but due to the huge cost of pilot training I’m now stuck in a career I hate which is going no where. And just to rub salt in the wound, if I had been a pilot for just half the time I’ve been an engineer, I would be earning more than twice as much as I do now.

    1. Dear you mind if i leave a short reply to John?..I`m argentinian and i know very well the huge badget needed to face aviation carreer training. I have average incomes and the cost of every hour of flight is quite expensive ..however here is cheaper than either Europe or US..if you or anybody wants to be in contact ,send me an email to .

  6. Hi Michelle.
    I am former CC and in love with an aviation (my husband was a CP of a A320/321/319 , but unfortunatelly he passed away 2 years ago and I am alone with our baby now. Our plan before I got pregnant was for me to become a pilot. Anyhow, now Im 33. Do you think its late for me to go pursue my dream now?
    Regards from Bosnia.

    1. Sorry about your husband Tia. I’ll suggest you check the age requirement in Bosnia, however, it’s never too late to pursue your dreams, as long as you’ll be dedicated enough. Wish you and your baby all the best and a beautiful future ahead! Peace.

    2. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for the insightful article. What are the best flight academies in western Europe that you would suggest joining up to? A balance between price and a quality institution is what I’m looking for. Thanks in advance.

  7. Its absolutely ludicrous people plunching into 150K debt when you can go to the states and get your 1,500 hours with a training program that costs around $50K or get your instrument multi-cpl for around $25K (and hustle for low time jobs).

    Its simply beyond me.

  8. My dream my passion everything is I wanna to become a pilot …after my +2 I wait almost one year for searching loans etc..but no one will help..I really think to end my life . Then I think about my parents.. after I move to study engineering..still now my dream thoughts everything is I wanna to become pilot .unfortunately I can’t go through with my dream..because of money parents was farmer one year salary nearly indian RS: 75, can I full fill my dream?..I can’t I think…because we don’t have money right this dream only for rich peoples?..any how If any one know about free pilot training in any were in this world please inform me ..if anyone come front and give money life loan or something for my training..after finishing my training I will return that money..please please help me anyone of u seeing this contact number is 7639589673

    1. If you are contemplating suicide, perhaps piloting is not the right job for you. What if you do become a pilot and face some other hardship?

  9. Hello michelle

    thank very much for this necessary information i am 19 now and im studying avaitaion operation its my last year of college and i ve already applied for universities which will get start in September 2019 i always have had a huge dream and passion to become pilot but i look at the coast of universities for pilot training discourage me i dont even know if i will be able to make it because of the coast but 1 thing is for sure i dont wanna give up on my dream i want to turn my dream into reality i hope i can make it

  10. Hi,
    after obtaining the licence (I looking forward for an iATPL), what other costs do you have to incur? How did you do to obtain the 1500 hours required to ‘unfreeze’ the licence? Can you work even though you don’t have the 1500-hours of flight??

  11. Hi Captain! Thank you for this informative post 🙂 After getting your CPL, can you start working immediately and as what? Is it necessary to get ME and IR? Or you still need to go through getting the fourth bar?

  12. I m changing my life now and want to do only what i like and really want. I m IT engineer and all my life want to be a pilot. I decided to do it, but the only problem is the money. So i m looking for people who had the same dreams and money was part of the experience. I m afraid to lose the hope and searching for a way. I hope i can find bank would accept to give this loan. Btw i live in Germany.

    I wanted to thank you for sharing yoy story was really helpful at least it gave me more hopes.

    1. Dear Saif, Im argentinian , i work as a police officer and i have the same obstacle than you…Money lack…After two years of saving i had my Private Pilot License but for the Comertial one,nowi need U$S 22.000 and there is no loan to such ammount here…so i guess its going to take several years gathering 180 hours i need to complete the minimun 200 hours required..some times i feel fed up because it’s my dream but a very expensive one…

  13. I read your article and it was very enjoyable while you presented the hard facts as well. I am a high school student living in Thailand at the moment (hopefully) coming over to TU Delft next year to study aerospace engineering. In your opinion (based on your experience) how would a career in ‘piloting’ fare compared to other careers in the same industry in Holland (or any other EU country?) I am trying to see what kind of choices I have after I graduate and it would really help if someone with firsthand experience gave their two cents on the matter. Thank you so much in advance 🙂

    1. Hi Mark, Thanks for the feedback! I am not quite sure what you mean by other careers in the same industry. Can you elaborate? The aviation sector in general seems to be “recovering”. More and more unemployed pilots are getting their first airline jobs. There might even be a shortage of pilots in the near future.

      I am not sure if there are any careers in the aviation sector that you can compare with actually piloting an aircraft but I am sure a completed study in aerospace engineering will open all kinds of doors I haven’t even thought of. Good luck with your career and enjoy Thailand, it is such a great country.

  14. Hi Michelle, Thank u soo much for all those details . my winter vacation is going on ( feeling bored) my mind is full of????? about pilot course. As l am from Nepal, for me to achieve my dream is too much difficult ( beyond my thoughts) still reading in 12 class. I am fully minded confused . Here in Nepal there is no scope to study pilot. People used to go America & other countries soo. Anyway tq again for inspire me and hope in future I would meet u . Good luck and best wishes from nepal.

    1. Hi Alisha! You’re welcome 🙂 Perhaps you can also move to another country at a later age and still make your dream a reality. Or maybe just take some lessons in a single engine piston aircraft at an airport nearby. Anyway, thank you for your comment and best wishes from Amsterdam!

    2. Hi Alisha! I’m from Nepal and i too have same dream. Beside this I’m continuing my carrer with engineering but i really wanna drop my study and i’m trying to continue my carrer with pilot. We too have same dream as well as we are from same country. If you want then we can talk further about this.
      Thank you Michelle for your article.

  15. I am so confused,whether I should join flight school after my high school or get a degree first and then join it.So do you say according to your own experience! And is there any scholerships or by any means can we get discount on our flight training costs?

  16. I am impressed with all the thoughts you shared here and your other posts as well (read a bunch of your articles ;)) Indeed, becoming an airline pilot is no easy. Aside from the fact that learning this kind of field it is not cheap as one have to spend quite amount of money and with kind of career, It requires a lot of hard work.

  17. Hi Michelle,

    I am really inspired by you. You are truly amazing and bring out the reality to the world. Myself Abhishek, I have done Aeronautical engineering in India and also I hold SPL. I came to know about the same scenario in past, although flying aircraft was my dream but had to negotiate with my financial responsibilities. Currently I work for Jet Airways India Ltd as Engineer. I hope to get some more interesting facts from you in future vlogs or on this site.
    Thanks and Regard

    1. Dear Abhishek,

      Thank you for your nice words 🙂 I appreciate you take the time to comment on this article! I will surely continue with this site and my youtube channel. Perhaps you haven’t noticed I have an Instagram account as well. You can find it here.

      What do you mean by a SPL? I am unfamiliar with this acronym. Kind regards and stay tuned for more 🙂


      1. SPL means Sailplane Pilot License 😉 I started with that and now I’m at the end of my PPL training. Love your website it’s very helpful for a lot of young aviators pursing their dream to be an airline pilot one day. Maybe you could write something about ways to build your flight hour’s?

        Best regards from Poland

        1. Thank you for clarifying the SPL acronym! 🙂 Do you plan on getting a CPL as well? Great to hear that you like my website! I will keep your suggestion in mind, perhaps I can write about that in the future. At the moment I am working hard on some new articles and sections for this website. Should be online soon so stay tuned! All the best, Michelle

  18. Hey,
    Thank you for this post. It really puts some perspective to this ‘dream job’. A lot of people have no clue of how much money we have to spend, and what kind of payments we have to deal with after that. Good job in adding it all up!
    Cheers, sam

    1. Hi Sam, you’re welcome 🙂 That was indeed one of the reasons why I wrote this article.. there is not a lot of public information regarding this subject, I wanted to change that. Have a nice day!

  19. Hello Michelle!
    I found this website by accident. That’s the first article I read here and surely I’ll stay here longer.
    I might give you and other readers the idea of how it is in Poland.
    We have a great opportunity here to become a student pilot in a government-sponsored programme. There are 3 universities in the country, that give the chance to take part in the pilot training programme “for free”. Considering all those universities there are around 50 people each year that start the training programme.
    This depends on your results in tests/exams.

    I am student of Aerospace Engineering and athe the same time the student pilot in 0-ATPL(A) integrated programme. If necessary, I might describe the details of how to become a student in a government-sponsored ATPL programme.

    Good luck to you with all your aviation dreams and keep doing what you’re doing.

    1. Hi Bartosz! Thank you so much for your comment and the insight you are providing. I am sure it can be helpful for Polish readers and it helps to create a better understanding regarding the differences between countries. For example, in the Netherlands there is no such school, nor is it for free:( Looks like you have a very good deal and are well on your way to becoming a professional pilot. Should anyone have questions regarding these Polish schools, perhaps it is easiest if those people just reply to your comment so you can get in touch with anyone who’s looking for clarification and information. Best of luck in your career! Have a nice day 🙂

    2. Dear Bartosz,

      This is Lija from Bangladesh. now i am living in The Netherlands. i am interested to know about pilot training program. would u please help me by giving idea about whole process ?

      Thanks in Advance.

    3. Hey, Bartosz can you please describe better this government-sponsored ATPL programme please? I’m italian, can I apply? Thanks

      1. Hi Lija! Hi Bruno!

        Of course I might describe you the whole training from zero to ‘hero’, but this will be the description like many others on the Internet.
        My training programme is included in Aerospace Engineering studies on one of the technical universities in Poland. To be able to take part in it, you need: first to get to the university after graduation from high school, second – after 3 semesters there is additional recruitment for people who want to become a pilot. You might study Aerospace Engineering in some other faculties like ‘aircraft engines’, ‘avionics’ or ‘airframes’. However, if you want to be the chosen one to the ATPL programme you need to pass some English tests, psychological tests, aptitude test and have best marks during those 3 semesters. If you managed to get here, you continue your studies. The time of studies is quite long, because it takes 5.5 years, but you get a degree (Master’s and Bachelor’s of science).
        As far as I know, only Polish citizens might take part in that programme, at least in my school. But I am not 100% sure about it.
        During this training, as it is integrated, you do not pass any official exams, but we have lots of exams at the training organisation (both practical and theoretical). After that you need to pass ATPL theory, CPL (SE and ME) and IR practise.
        For the training we do not pay anything, however all the things necessary like headphones, knee pads etc. you have to buy on your own. Still, I think it is a great thing, because the cost (comparing to the usual cost of the training) is almost nothing.

        Wish you good luck! Never give up! 🙂

  20. Hallo, Michelle.
    My name is Daniel.
    I am an 35 years old argentinian private pilot and just want you to tell how expensive in my country is: To became into private pilote, nearly U$S 4500, then students go for Commertial licence which costs around U$S 25000 and finally get to last level : airlane pilot .Here you spend U$S 50.000.
    Is not a carreer for average citizens, but for rich people instead..
    By the other hand, let me tell you something, you`re great and a source of inpiration for those who like the flight on any of their shapes.
    Greetings from argentine.

    1. Hi Daniel, Thank you for your reply and compliment! It brings me a lot of joy to hear I am a source of inspiration… 🙂
      In the Netherlands it is also most likely going to become a profession for rich people only. Banks are no longer providing pilot loans. I have no idea if this is a permanent thing or just something temporarily. Sounds like the pilot schools in Argentine are still among the cheapest on the globe. But I do understand that the average salary is less then in Europe and therefore it’s too expensive for the average citizen like you said.

      Anyway, thank you for your insight! Stay safe and I hope you will enjoy your next flight… but that won’t be a problem I guess 😉

      1. Hi, Michelle,
        thanks in advance for your quick reponse…
        Perhups for a european people it seems like Argentine is the cheapest place on globe (sic) but as a police officer (my real job) i earn U$S 1.120 a month…
        In argentine, an ordinary market employee is paid U$S 650 a month…
        Well, i hope not to have disturbing you with such speech i typed…
        Although it be a cloudy day; the whole Sky smiles when you flight..

        1. You are right, when choosing a flight school, one should not only pay attention to the cost of the school but the average salary in that country as well. A tuition fee might seem cheap for one person but expensive for the other, depending on their income and the place of origin. Anyway, it’s great that you had the opportunity to obtain a PPL and experience the freedom of flying. Happy landings! 🙂

      2. Michelle, I confused now. Sorry. I’m moving to Netherlands and looking to be a EASA pilot. In the post you wrote about banks loans (including an idea about interests). However at this comment above you said “Banks are no longer providing pilot loans” . What is the real situation right now? Thank you so much for all help.

        1. Hi Bruno, I am sorry for the confusion. The comment above was written about a year ago. The bank that was providing loans to students decided to no longer offer uncovered loans. A lot of students ended up going bankrupt because they couldn’t find any jobs. I didn’t knew if it was a temporary measure or a permanent one.

          Just recently the ABN Amro bank in the Netherlands started to provide loans again but only for accepted students at the KLS. If you pass the selection process at this school you can still get a loan because KLM acts as a backer. Making it a solid investment for the bank. I think the current interest is around 4 to 5%.

          This situation is subject to change at any time though.

  21. Hello Michelle,
    Thanks for this post! Really appreciate it. If you wait a few years, I might become a new colleague! 🙂

    Regards from Holland!

      1. Hello Michelle,

        May I ask you about the name of the aviation school that you went to in the Netherlands, and when did you start it, and when did you finish it?

        Very Truly Yours,

  22. Thank you so much, I really like this. I want to become a pilot but I did not know about the expenses. This article is very helpful and I am glad you took the time to make this. I will become a pilot one day, thank you.

Leave a comment, I appreciate it and will reply as soon as possible:)