Real Answers from Real Pilots

Military Experience Requirement/Benefits of starting ATP with zero time

Hello all,

First off, thanks to the mentor pilots on here. I have learned so much useful information in the last month as I have been researching (obsessing over) ATP.

Here’s my question: The ATP website states that to start from zero time a student must have
College degree, or
60 hrs applicable credit, or
applicable work experience, or

Now, does it matter what kind of military service?
I don’t think I meet any of those requirements except that I am finishing year 5 of my contract in the USMC Reserve, Infantry. So no military aviation, besides being strapped into the back of an Osprey or Vietnam-era chopper on a few occasions.

If ANY any military experience counts, then awesome. If not, I would consider attending a fast track private pilot course here in my hometown as a prerequisite to attending ATP. That leads to another question:

Can anyone speak to the advantages of taking private pilot at ATP instead of elsewhere?
Reason for this question is, I reckon I can get my private for $8,000 (not including examiner fees) in about 3 weeks of working full time at a small private school here. Whereas from what I gather, ATP will cost $15,290 (including the $800/mo stipend) to start at zero time. (I get this from the application cost calculator) I don’t completely balk at this as I understand that there are probably some huge upsides when it comes to standards of training, new aircraft, the ATP’s airline training mentality, etc… BUT if I can save the $7,000 in debt I’d kinda like to… thanks!!!


The main reason for the school/work requirement is to ensure a person is prepared to dedicate the time and effort needed to complete the training. If you’ve been serving your country for the last 5yrs I’m pretty certain you’ll be fine (you do need to contact ATP admin for approval but again I wouldn’t worry).

The #1 reason we recommend starting ALL your training with ATP is consistency. ATP has a proven method of training and since the things we learn first stick with us the longest, it’s obviously beneficial to start Day1 doing things right. That said I understand $7,000 is a fair amount of money so if you choose to go that way it’s not the end of the world (many people have). Keep in mind the price quoted is most likely for the minimum time requirements (40hrs) but the national average is much higher (60hrs) so that $8000 most likely won’t be. Also the requirement to start at ATP with credit for your PPL is a min flight time of 80hrs. Even if you do finish in the min 40 you’ll still need to build (and pay for another 40hrs) so you need to work that into the math.



Thanks for your response! That makes a ton of sense. I’ll contact ATP (and maybe if one of the ATP admins can weigh in on this) and find out. Youre right about the 80 hrs…that’s a lot. ATP sounds like a better experience anyway. I can’t wait to start!

I also wonder if an ATP admin can weigh in on what exactly is applicable work experience?

Some background and my work history, for reference:

Age 16-21, held job at one restaurant. Started as dishwasher- left after 5 yrs as FOH manager.

21-22, employed in housing renovation by local company

22-23, employed on construction crew,

23-24 (current) employed by a life sciences company in sales & marketing.

Age 19-current USMC Reserves. Will get out December of 2018 at the age of 25. (6yrs total time)

(I’m turning 24 next month)

Have completed roughly two years of college credit at a community college, did not seek a 2 yr degree however, and left to join the military/work full time.

I’m not a stranger to hard work/commitment, and my very first dream was to be a fighter/test pilot/astronaut, but was struck with near-sightedness at 11yrs. And I was dissuaded from pursuing aviation around 2010-11 by my parents who thought I should pursue a more “stable” career. I’ve tried that, and I am unsatisfied. Ive recently begun thinking very seriously about the possibility of making this leap, and I understand now is THE TIME to take the step.



I would think that your years in the reserve would more than qualify you for the program, but check with the admissions department for the official answer.

As to the private at the local school, to begin with, I can’t imagine how it would be possible to finish that program in three weeks, I just don’t see that happening. Furthermore, I am willing to bet a lot of money that the price quote of $8,000 is not based on 80 hours of flight time, like ATP’s is. You will need those 80 hours to enter ATP’s program for credit with private.

The main reason though is to standardize your training. I did my private training through a local school and while I got the certificate, it took way longer than they said it would, cost more, and I had to learn the ATP way of doing things once I started the rest of my training.


You are right about now being the time. Seniority drives everything in this industry and while you are not old, now is definitely the time to get into it.

Something to keep in mind is that while you do not need a college degree for the regionals, you will most certainly need one for the majors, so you should plan on picking one of those up along the way.

Yes that was my understanding and that’s the path my pilot friends/family have recommended.