How much does flight school cost in 2024 in the U.S.?

What is the Cost To Become a Pilot

How much is flight school?

Every flight student’s first question is: “How much does flight school cost?” At Epic Flight Academy, for students going from Zero Experience to Airline Pilot, the tuition cost is estimated at $74,583. However, when non-tuition expenses are added, the total cost is $83,437.85. Yes, flight training is expensive, but pilot salaries are higher than ever.

When sampling tuition costs around the world, airline pilot training can run from $70,000 to $150,000 USD.

If you aren’t interested in becoming a professional pilot, you can simply earn individual certificates and ratings. Costs vary among flight schools and flight students. Here, we’ll share averages as compared to Epic Flight Academy’s costs.

Is there financing for flight training?

Yes, many flight students opt for a student loan to complete their training. Sallie Mae and Stratus are among the most popular lenders, but there are other financing sources available.

Are scholarships available for flight training?

Yes, many aviation organizations offer a limited number of scholarships. Epic Flight Academy also offers annual scholarships to high school students.

What is the cost for private pilot and other ratings?

There is no set price for any certificate or rating, private pilot or otherwise. Schools vary widely in their costs for various reasons. Epic’s estimated costs are:

Pilot Costs and Duration
Prices Current as of June 1, 2024

Why does the pilot training cost vary?

Costs vary widely by school and student. For example, some students grasp concepts more quickly, while some need more time. Equipment also plays a role. If you have access to flight simulators, your costs can be reduced. Estimated costs can change if there is a sudden increase in fuel costs, for example. Also, a flight school with newer aircraft typically offers greater access to equipment since the aircraft is not always in the shop. At Epic, we purchase all training aircraft brand new from the factory. Our motto is “Safety first!”

What factors impact the cost of pilot training?

In addition to the variables like fuel costs and equipment, aircraft rentals for time-building can impact the cost. Students are billed based on the Hobbs reading, which covers the duration of the engine running. There are many factors that add more money to your overall training costs:

Flight Instructors

Students are billed by the hour for flight instructor time, both while flying and during ground instruction. Those hours can add up, so make the best use of your time with your CFI.

Check Rides

Pilots pay the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) directly. These fees for an FAA-approved DPE vary depending on the region. An average cost for a pilot check ride is around $1,000, but his does vary. Check ride fees can range between $600 and $1300.


Text books and manuals are non-tuition costs that also impact flight training costs. Likewise, students need to purchase a headset, flight bag, kneeboard, uniforms, and other gear.

Security Services

The FAA requires fingerprinting for international students. Domestic students are required to pay for TSA registration. Many flight schools, such as Epic Flight Academy, use online resources. Students will also need to pay for access to these. Student pilots must also pay for a medical exam to be sure it is safe for them to fly.


Be on time, and don’t skip your flight lesson. You will not only be billed for “no-shows,” you might also be kicked out of school. Attendance matters, and that includes being on time.

The cost of Flight Lessons varies among flight schools.
The cost of flight lessons varies among flight schools. Epic Flight Academy discloses costs up front to help students plan accordingly.

How much are flight lessons?

You want to learn to fly, but cost is an issue. You should take a discovery flight, which is the most affordable flight lesson of all. Flight schools offer aspiring pilots that chance to fly with a Certified Flight Instructor at an affordable cost, usually between $100 and $200. You can even log your flight time from your discovery flight. After that, you need to look at everything that determines a program’s cost. For example, Epic Flight Academy breaks down every cost for all courses.

Private Pilot Course Cost

The Private Pilot course has three phases. In the pre-solo phase, you learn essential skills for safe flight, leading to your first solo flight. Next, you move to cross-country training, focusing on navigation. The final part prepares you for the FAA checkride, including an oral Q&A and flight test. Federal Aviation Regulations require 35-40 hours of training, but most pilots surpass this. At Epic, most students complete their PPL in approximately 3 months. The estimated cost for the Private Pilot course is $28,822 and takes about 3 months. Examples of some of the costs include:

  • Ground School: $500
  • One-on-one ground instruction: $115 hr.
  • Pre/post activity building: $115 hr.
  • Time-building flight in Cessna 172 w/partner: $149.10 hr.
  • Simulator | TruFlite C172 w/partner: $170 hr.
  • Flight | C172 Solo: $298.20 hr.

Instrument Rating Course Cost

The Instrument Rating course prepares pilots to fly in low visibility conditions. It is similar to the PPL sequence, and you’ll train ‘under the hood’. You’ll take a written exam after completing IR ground school. The total time includes class and flight instruction. Passing requires the practical exam, including oral and flying tests. The Instrument Rating course takes approximately 2 months and is expected to cost $17,052.50.

Commercial Pilot Costs

Pilots can earn a single-engine commercial (CSEL) rating as well as a multi-engine commercial (CMEL) rating. A commercial rating is necessary to pursue a pilot caree. At Epic, the single-engine training takes place in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. For multi-engine, pilots train in a Piper Seminole. The CSEL takes approximately 2 months and costs around $17,553.50. The CMEL add-on course costs an estimated $7,064 and takes about 3 weeks. The combined cost for both single- and multi-engine ratings is $24,617.50.

Flight Instructor Costs

Many U.S. pilots choose to become flight instructors after earning their commercial ratings. This is because the FAA requires commercial pilots to have logged a minimum of 1,500 flight hours before they’re allowed to fly for the airlines. By becoming a flight instructor, they can earn a salary while building time in their logbook. At Epic, the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) course takes 2 months and costs approximately $11,155. Epic’s Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII) course costs $5,860 and takes 3 weeks to complete. The Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI) course costs $6,488 and take 3 weeks. Epic proudly hires many of its graduates as flight instructors.

Airline Transport Pilot Cost

Epic offers the ATP course in partnership with Simulator Center LLC. The course helps pilots prepare for the Airline Transport Pilot Knowledge Test (ATP written test). The course includes 32 hours of classroom training followed by 10 hours of flight simulator training.

Becoming an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) requires a pilot to log 1,500 flying hours. This is why so many pilots work as flight instructors before heading to the airlines.

The cost to earn an ATP certificate is relatively manageable. Pilots usually require less than 20 additional hours of flight training to adequately prepare for the ATP checkride. However, pilots who have not extensively engaged in instrument flying may need to refresh their skills. This is because ATP checkrides involve instrument-flying proficiency.

Although the flight training aspect may be straightforward, the written exam for the ATP certificate is challenging for some. Therefore, many pilots prepare for the exam through independent study programs. Some seek guidance from their flight instructors as needed.

ATP certification usually costs approximately $6,000. However, aspiring airline pilots find that many airlines cover the costs associated with obtaining an ATP certificate for their hired pilots. That’s even better!

Passed Checkride at Epic Flight Academy
Flight Instructor Rick Kaneaster presents flight student Muntasir Hoque with his Private Pilot epaulets after passing his checkride.

Why do so many international flight students go to the United States to train?

One reason many international flight students train in the USA is because there are insufficient options where they live. U.S. flight schools are approved by the FAA. Training in the USA provides access to unrestricted airspace. Also, the most popular training aircraft are built in the United States. Because English is the official language of aviation, many international students prefer to train with English-speaking air traffic controllers. Most importantly, many students tell us it’s more affordable to train in the U.S.

How can students find the best flight school for them?

Finding the right flight school involves many factors, including location and cost. Read online reviews, check safety records, look at instructor-to-student ratios, and ask questions. You’re investing a lot in your future, and you want to be sure the school is a good fit for you so you get the most out of your experience.

The cost to become a pilot may seem daunting. However, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median salary in 2023 at $219,140. If you’d like to train at Epic, you can prequalify in minutes.

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