Many pilots are often curious about what the costs of a checkride are. Understanding the approximate cost is helpful for budgeting costs associated with each rating. They may have heard rumors that it can cost up to $2,000 for an FAA practical test or private pilot certificate. Those things may be accurate, but they're only part of the story. Many factors are involved in determining how much your checkride will cost you, and this article explains them all.
When talking to nearby DPEs, it's helpful to know what a typical range is for a checkride. While there is quite a range, the average price for private, instrument, or commercial pilot practical tests in a single or multi-engine airplane is around $600.
And I've heard stories on online forums about Designated Pilot Examiners charging upwards of $2,000 for a checkride. There is some variance in that price, but the normal range is between $400 and $800. Now you may be asking: why the big gap? What causes the price discrepancy? Here are some factors that can cause increases and decreases in the cost.
Like anything, the cost of a checkride is governed by the law of supply and demand. Usually, pilots in highly active areas with few DPEs, such as South Florida or Northern California, can charge more because there is a significant demand for their service. Also, price and availability can fluctuate because DPEs work on various schedules, causing the supply to increase and decrease at different times of the year. For instance, the holiday season is usually more challenging to find a DPE, and the ones that are available will change more to take time away from their family to do your checkride.
Also, we've seen DPEs experienced with less common aircraft can charge more. There are a few of these situations where only a handful of DPEs have experience in an aircraft in the entire country.
There are other costs to consider when booking a checkride that don't fall into the checkride booking fee. It's common for DPEs to charge a cancelation fee to protect themselves against no-shows. Life does happen, but many DPEs are booked for months and this fee helps protect them from no-shows. Cancelation fees typically cost $150-$300.
The last standard fee you might come across is a checkride retake fee. Most DPEs will allow pilots who failed a checkride to retake the checkride at a lower cost. The common pricing for a retake is about 50% of the cost of the initial checkride.
Many ever-changing variables go into the average cost of a checkride at a given time. However, the range typically stays pretty consistent. For budgeting purposes, $600 is a good ballpark number to go with.