How to become a Pilot #03: Flight School Cost & Conditions

In the previous blogposts I wrote about choosing a flight school and the general requirements. In this post I would like to include some extra information about the different types of flight schools and to explain different options that you might not have heard of before!

Initially I have been writing about the Integrated ATPL course, which is the course that I did (and know most about). However, there are different options that you could take into consideration! Press on the READ MORE button to find out!

A pilot course costs a lot of money. I did the Integrated ATPL course in Spain and I paid EUR 95.000 for this course (including accommodation for two years). I am very glad that I could take a loan at the bank to pay for my studies, but I am still paying the bank every month for the monthly interest and trying to reduce the amount I owe the bank. It is now 5 years since I finished flight school and I expect to have paid back the full amount within the next 10 years. It’s a huge investment which turned out positively for me, but with huge investment comes huge risk.

I realise that many people have the dream of becoming a pilot but are unable to afford it or are unable to take the financial risk. I therefore have written some options that you may take into consideration instead.

Airline Cadet Scheme

Some airlines have cadet schemes where they hire suitable candidates and educate these candidates themselves. This means that you can apply for the cadet programme without any pilot licence. If you are accepted, you will do the pilot training internally and you are sure to have a job with that airline after finishing the ATPL course.

Some companies that have a cadet programme don’t ask for money beforehand, but will take it (either full or partially) off of your future salary once you start working with them as an airline pilot. In that case, they would take a bit of money every month from your salary.

Another case would be that they do require you to pay the training cost beforehand, but in comparison to doing a normal (non-airline) integrated ATPL course, you are sure of getting a job immediately after you finish flight school. This would take away the financial risk.

Keep in mind that you are only assured a job if you pass all exams in flight school and of course that you behave well at all times. You can find on this website under the section ‘Useful Links’ a list with Airline Cadet Programs.

Country sponsored pilot course

One of the best things that I heard of, is that some countries have programmes of sponsoring pilot training for some of their citizens. I know that France and Sweden have these kind of programmes. Of course, the selection process to get accepted is very tough, but once you pass it, you don’t have to pay for the pilot training at all! In my opinion this is a great deal – if you have the opportunity!

Military pilot course

Being a military pilot in the airforce is completely different than commercial pilot in an airline. But, some military pilots join airlines after their years of service. As military pilots are needed for the country’s defence, the government covers the flight training. But of course, not every (future) pilot is suitable for the airforce. Selections are very tough and you need to be sure that you can cope with this type of job.

Some of my captains have flown for many years in the airforce and I have noticed that these colleagues who have been trained in the airforce are very skilled and fly the plane as if it’s an extension to their body!

Modular or Distance learning ATPL course 

Finally, another way to pay for the pilot education, could be to do the course modular rather than integrated. In a modular course, you do every module in your own time. You could work full time to fund your pilot training and every time you have saved enough money, you could start a new module. It may take longer to finish the whole training, but at least you will finish flight school with no debt!

There are also schools that provide distance learning, it’s much cheaper as you don’t attend theory classes but do all the studying by yourself. You will receive all the study books (eBooks) and prepare for the official exams by yourself. It does usually come with brush up courses which allows you to ask all your questions in person, but in general you can do it at home!


I hope these different options are helpful to you. As always: Do your research online so that you can find out what is the most suitable option in your situation.

For all of the above cases: This is just a small description of different programmes and opportunities. Keep in mind that you must always read and understand the contract before you sign anything. You must be aware of any risk there may be and all the conditions that apply.

2 thoughts on “How to become a Pilot #03: Flight School Cost & Conditions

  1. Pingback: How to become a pilot #04: ATPL Theory Subjects | Pilot Lindy

  2. I never knew that there were schools that provided distance learning in which a cheaper option is available. My friend wants to become a pilot and he is looking for a good way to get started. Thanks for all the different methods of flight school. I’ll be sure to let him know of the various options so that he can start his flight training as soon as possible.


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