How Much Does It Cost to Become a Commercial Pilot?

Commercial pilots carry people and equipment around the world, operating medevac planes, fire spotting, performing mining surveys, guiding aerial tours, and assisting in agriculture. Obtaining a commercial pilot license opens the doors to these careers and volunteer opportunities. If you are considering becoming part of this professional community of pilots, you might be wondering how much does it cost to become a commercial pilot?

Students in aircraft cockpit

Two Flight Training Options to Consider

The cost to become a pilot with a commercial license will vary depending on which path you take to meet FAA requirements. There are two ways to become a commercial pilot, with either Part 61 or Part 141 approved training programs. While the broad range of investment in commercial pilot training might be from $15,000 at a bare minimum to more than $35,000, which path you choose will determine your total costs.

What Is the Difference Between Part 61 and Part 141 Training Courses?

You can become a commercial pilot by taking Part 61 or Part 141 flight training. Each path has different requirements to reach the same goal and will change the total cost.

Captain hand accelerating on the throttle in commercial airliner

  • Part 61 courses are flexible and require less classroom time. This may be ideal for you if you want to work at your own pace or around a challenging schedule, or if you have prior flight training and want to start a career as a commercial pilot. Due to the flexible nature of this kind of training, the FAA requires more flight hours logged before being eligible to test for your license.
  • Part 141 programs are more structured with a classroom or online training curriculum designed to take you from zero flight hours to a commercial pilot level in a structured schedule and a set timeframe. Because of the more rigorous nature of a Part 141 program, the FAA requires more classroom/online hours and fewer flight hours before being eligible to apply for your commercial pilot’s license.

Average Costs of Part 61 Commercial Pilot Training

pilot in training in cockpit simulator

Part 61 flight training allows for optional ground training and instrument rating while requiring dual and solo flights under a wide variety of conditions. While an instrument rating is not required for a Commercial Pilot license, without one you will not be able to carry passengers at night or more than 50 nautical miles from your home airport, so most commercial pilots choose to complete this additional training.

Under Part 61, the FAA requires that you:

  • Attain a Private Pilot certificate.
  • Complete a total of 250 flight hours.
  • Complete cross country flights in the day and night.
  • Complete 10 hours of instrument training.
  • Fly at least 10 hours in a complex or technically advanced airplane.
  • Fly at least 10 solo hours with numerous takeoffs and landings.

Cost Estimates for Part 61 Flight Training

Using average hourly rates for flight instruction, flight time in a Cessna 150 or 172, and 10 hours in a complex aircraft, we come up with these estimates for a Part 61 flight training experience:

  • To complete the absolute minimum flight hours required by the FAA will cost approximately $7500.
  • Most students average more hours than the minimum to reach competency, at a cost of approximately $13,000.
  • While not specifically required, at least 10 hours of ground training is provided to prepare student pilots for the Knowledge Written Exam and Oral portion of their practical flight test, at a cost of $650 to $1000.
  • Attaining your instrument rating will add another 15 hours of ground training, flight training and simulator training time to the total, averaging about $12000.
  • Completing training on multi-engine aircraft adds approximately $5000.

Average Costs of Part 141 Commercial Pilot Training

young man in flight simulator for the training pilots

Part 41 Commercial pilot training includes a requirement for instrument rating and 30 hours of instrument ground school as part of its more structured curriculum. FAA requirements for Part 141 students mean you will have to:

  • Attain a Private Pilot License.
  • Complete 120 total flight hours.
  • Complete at least 35 hours of ground school on approved coursework.
  • Complete cross country flights in the day and night.
  • Pass IFR (instrument flight rules) stage checks.
  • Obtain your instrument rating by passing written and in flight examinations.
  • Fly at least 10 hours in a complex or technically advanced airplane.
  • Fly at least 10 hours solo with multiple take-offs and landings.

Cost Estimates for Part 141 Flight School

In light of these more stringent requirements, and using typical hourly rates for flight instructors, airplane rental, ground instruction, simulator usage, and instrument training, we arrive at these estimates for a Part 141 Commercial Pilot training program:

  • To complete the coursework with the minimum number of flight hours required by the FAA will run about $25,000.
  • If you need the average number of flight hours most students use to be confident in passing examinations, your average might be closer to $30,000.
  • Ground training, instrument training, and simulator time is included in most Part 141 training programs.
  • A multi-engine add-on in a Part 141 format will add about $7500 to your flight school costs.

Additional Costs of Commercial Pilot Training

young students learning about aircraft controls

Other expenses are paid outside of your flight school but add to your total when determining how much your commercial pilot license will cost. If you need to repeat attempts at written, oral, or in-flight examinations, it will add to your total price.

Be sure to budget for these sometimes unexpected expenses:

  • A medical examination to obtain at least a second class medical certificate, at about $150
  • Books, charts, flight planning tools, and training materials, which will total approximately $500 to $1000
  • FAA written exams to test aeronautical knowledge, which average $150
  • FAA Flight Examinations or Checkrides, at about $650 plus plane rental
  • IFR (Instrument Rating) written exams at about $150
  • IFR flight examinations, which run about $650 plus plane rental

Is Part 61 Flight Training Less Expensive than Part 141?

Looking at the averages above, it seems obvious that Part 141 training costs more than Part 61 training, but it will depend on your individual situation. Because of the higher number of hours required for the Part 61 option, your expenses will be far more variable depending on how many flight hours you have under your belt when you start.

Since both paths require you to obtain your private pilot certificate, if you do so in the minimum number of hours required, you might find that you need to log more flight hours to qualify for your commercial license minimums under Part 61. Flight hours are far more expensive than ground school time. Some pilots might even test out of ground school requirements based on prior training. Talking to a certified flight instructor from a reputable flight school will help you decide which program is the most cost-effective for you.

Enrolling in a Flight School Focused on Your Success


Earning your commercial pilot certificate can launch your career in the industry or set up your own small business for success. Professional pilots with a commercial license can obtain a flight instructor certificate and teach others, fly corporate jets, operate skydiving planes, and work toward higher goals like becoming an airline transport pilot.

Choosing a flight school should depend on much more than the price they quote you on the phone or advertise online. Quality flight instruction is priceless, and it improves your personal safety and likelihood of passing your checkride, oral, and written examinations the first time. With more than 300 flying days per year at our Florida flight school, you can complete those required flight hours and start earning money as a pilot sooner than you might think possible.

At Kingsky Flight Academy, we have the highest ratings for safety and student success. We offer financial aid to qualified students and honor GI and veteran’s benefits to help you reach your dreams of flight. Give us a call at 1-800-KINGSKY or send an email today to find out more about the commercial flight training program that is perfect for your goals. Kingsky Flight Academy will help your dreams of becoming a professional pilot take off now and land successfully at your career destination.

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