December 18, 2023

The Cost of Pilot Training in the UK: Is it Worth the Investment?

The Cost of Pilot Training in the UK: Is it Worth the Investment?

Becoming a commercial pilot is a dream career for many people, but the path to achieving it requires a substantial investment. In the UK, the cost of a pilot training courses is generally in the region of £100,000. However, with the right training and qualifications, pilots can go on to earn a six-figure salary with excellent career prospects. In this blog post, we will discuss the cost of pilot training in the UK and the speed of return on investment once you become employed and compare this to other professions.

The cost of pilot training in the UK can vary depending on the type of course, flight school and location. At Leading Edge Aviation, the LEAP Integrated Course costs £104,500. This course is designed for individuals who have no flying experience. In 18 months, this ab-initio (‘from the beginning’) course will take you from no flying experience to airline-ready in every way. While the cost of pilot training can seem daunting, it’s essential to remember that this is an investment in your future career. The aviation industry is growing, and the demand for pilots is increasing, making it a highly lucrative career path. Boeing has projected that aviation will need 790,000 new pilots by 2037 to meet growing demand.

It’s no secret that the pandemic put the aviation industry on hold, however according to an article by FlightGlobal2, published in October 2021, there is a growing demand for pilots in the UK as the aviation industry recovers from the pandemic. The article cites a report by the airline industry group Airlines UK, which states that UK airlines are currently facing a shortage of pilots due to a combination of factors, including pilot retirements, career breaks and a lack of recent flying experience for some pilots. The report also notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to pilot training and recruitment, which has further contributed to the shortage of pilots. This means that there is now even greater opportunity for those wishing to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilots.

Return on Investment

The return on investment for pilot training can be significant, especially when employed by airlines like easyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Jet2, and British Airways. The starting salary for a first officer can range from around £30,000 in the lower end, £45,000 for some, with some airlines paying cadet first officers more than £60,000. In addition to this, this salary can increase significantly as you progress to Captain, with salaries ranging from £100,000 to over £150,000 per year which at some airlines can be achieved within 5-10 years.

Airline Pilot Salaries in the UK

Making a decision after education about following a career path into a skilled profession that carries a cost of additional training can be difficult, but generally careers such as Airline Pilot, Accountant, Doctor, Architect, Lawyer all return a good investment on the training.

According to Payscale, the average salary for an airline pilot in the UK is £71,923 per year3. The range of salaries in the UK varies between £32,000 to £120,000 per year, depending on experience, type of aircraft flown, and airline. Let’s compare this to other professions.

Comparing Pilot Career Salaries to Other Professions

Profession Years to Qualify Average Starting Salary Salary Range
Commercial Pilot

1.5 yrs

(Integrated LEAP training course)

£30,000 – £60,000 £32,000 – £120,000

3-4 yrs

(Qualified Accountant)

£43,181 £35,000 – £60,000


(RIBA Qualified Architect)

£35,000 £43,000 – £79,000

6 years

(university) + further training

£32,398 – £37,303 £32,398 – £126,281

6+ years

(University + LPC + further training)

£37,327 £24,000 – £63,594


The investment required to become qualified in these professions may be incurred over a longer period but can still amount to a similar level of investment overall to pilot training as can be seen the starting salaries and the slower salary progression means those pursing these professions will take longer pay back their investment.

In the UK, airline pilots generally earn higher salaries compared to other skilled professions. In addition to this, becoming an airline pilot provides other benefits such as travel perks, job stability, and opportunities for career growth that are not available in other industries. These benefits are exclusive to the aviation industry.

So whilst the investment to become a pilot requires a substantial investment in a relatively short time frame, your ability to start earning a good salary with huge potential makes it a worthwhile investment in your future career. The demand for pilots is growing, and salaries are high, making it a highly lucrative career path. With state-of-the-art facilities and experienced instructors, get in touch today to start your journey!



  1. Forbes/ Boeing source: A ‘Perfect Storm’ Pilot Shortage Threatens Global Aviation (
  2. FlightGlobal article:
  3. Payscale:,_Copilot,_or_Flight_Engineer/Salary
  4. Glassdoor:,10.htm?clickSource=searchBtn
  5. Accountancy Age:
  6. Glassdoor:,10.htm#:~:text=Updated%2012%20Nov%202023%20Very,year%20in%20the%20United%20Kingdom
  7. RIBA:,and%20now%20stands%20at%20£35%2C000
  8. NHS Careers:
  9. Law Society:
  10. Payscale:

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