April 22, 2019

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Pilot's License

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It can cost as much as $20,000 to get a pilot's license. The cost depends on the type of flying you plan to do and where you plan to fly.

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In order to get your pilot's license, you'll need to undergo training. You are free to choose any flight school that offers the courses you need to obtain your license. The cost of each flight school will vary based on a variety of factors. Keep reading to see how much a pilot's license may cost you in general.

The Cost to Get a Private Pilot's License

A private pilot's license is the equivalent of a driver's license. You can fly throughout the United States in clear weather. You can have passengers and you can even fly into foreign land if you meet the requirements of that specific country.

The cost to get your private pilot's license to travel in clear weather is $7,000, and takes approximately four months to complete. If you want a private pilot's license to fly in cloudy weather, you'll need your private pilot's license plus an instrument license. This costs an additional $3,000 on top of the $7,000.

If you want to further your private pilot's license, you can get the multi-engine rating. This training allows you to fly airplanes with dual engines. These airplanes can carry more and further prepare you for a commercial pilot's license, should you care to move forward with it. Twin engines allow you the peace of mind when flying in less than optimal conditions, such as over water or at night.

Flying at Night: You are able to fly at night with a private pilot's license, but you must have the proper night training. This is included in most private pilot courses.

The Cost to Get a Commercial Pilot's License

Pilots can obtain their commercial pilot's license even if they don't plan to fly for a living. The commercial pilot's license helps you become a better pilot, even if you just fly for personal purposes. The cost is much greater, at $20,000, and it takes 8 months versus 4 months, but you come out of the training with a much better understanding of how to fly a plane as well as increased confidence.

Can you make money with a private pilot's license?
Typically, to fly people in a plane for compensation, you must have a commercial pilot's license. The exception to this rule, however, is if you share the expenses of the flight. The compensation you receive is limited to the cost of the operating expenses of the flight, though.

The Recreational Pilot's License
The recreational pilot may only fly within a 50-mile radius of their home airport. Because you don't need to learn air traffic communication or how to fly at night, the recreational pilot's license can be much cheaper than the sport pilot's license.

The Cost to Get a Sport Pilot's License

The sport pilot's license is less expensive, but has fewer allowances as well. As a sport pilot, you may only fly a one- or two-seat airplane with the light aircraft classification. You may only fly during good weather. You may not fly at night.

The cost to get a sport pilot's license is less than half of the cost of a private pilot's license, at $3,000. It takes approximately three months to get this license, but again, you have fewer capabilities with it.

The Cost to Go to Flight School

The cost of flight school varies based on a variety of factors, including:

  • The number and frequency of flight lessons
  • Weather conditions while flying
  • The type of aircraft used for the lessons
  • Location of the flight lessons

Typically, you'll have two rates when you take flight lessons. You'll pay an airplane rate for the hours that you are in flight, as well as an instructor rate for the total amount of time you are with the instructor. This time includes both airtime as well as time on the ground with the instructor. Your ground time with the instructor includes time to review materials, prep the plane, and review previous flight training.

The Cost of Flight Lessons per Hour

The cost of flight lessons per hour varies based on:

  1. The type of aircraft you fly.
  2. The instructor's cost per hour.

The most expensive part of the fees is the aircraft rental. If you want to reduce the costs, consider learning on analog gauges versus glass cockpits. You should also focus on smaller aircrafts. Think of the operational costs of the aircraft. The more expensive the plane is to maintain, the more it will cost you to rent for lessons.

Another good way to keep the costs down is to spend time on a flight simulator before going in the actual aircraft. Learning on the simulator can be less stressful, which may allow you to retain more information. This prevents the need for repeat lessons and more money on aircraft rental/instructor time.

As a general rule, expect to pay an instructor double the required flying time for your license. If you need 80 hours of flight time, you should budget for at least 160 hours with the instructor, as he/she will spend more time on the ground with you than in the air.

Bottom Line

The cost of your pilot's license depends on more than the cost of the license itself. The chosen flight school will determine your total cost. You'll find schools that are very high cost as well as those that are on the lower end.

Do your research to figure out which flight school will suit you the best. Focusing on price alone may leave you with a less optimal education than you desire. Look at the big picture to make sure you get the full package, giving you access not only to your license, but to safety in the air as well.


Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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