Real Answers from Real Pilots

Bachelor's degree AND flight school

My 12th grader in High school is looking to pursue a pilot career but I am struggling to find a program that offers a 4-year degree and the Pilot license. What I see is one or the other but nothing combined.

Does ATP offer such a program?
Thanks
Ivan

Ivan,

ATP does not offer such a program. There are many colleges that offer both, such as Embry Riddle. These programs tend to be very expensive and do not offer any greater value. I would recommend that your son attend a four year college and major in something other than aviation (so he has a backup career if need be) and then attend an accelerated flight school after training.

Please check out the FAQ section as there is a detailed post regarding the various paths to the airlines.

Chris

Thanks Chris. I’ll try find the detailed post. I was aware of Embry Riddle but I could not find others. I’ll see the post you mentioned has addition one.

CWU also has an aviation program. That’s Central Washington University in ellensburg washington

Ivan,

There are a number of schools that offer aviation programs which include flight training (Riddle, UND, Kent State, Auburn). A quick Google search will provide more.

I have 2 caveats. First most university aviation programs are ridiculously expensive. Second and perhaps more important, the airlines don’t require or even prefer aviation degrees. Further if flying doesn’t work out for your son (whether by choice or circumstance) there’s not much you can do with an aviation degree. This why we generally don’t recommend aviation degrees and encourage people to major in something other than as a Plan B.

Adam

Joshua, appreciate the info, CWU does look like a great program - many thanks for sharing that post

Adam, yeah, you are right a google search does list many. That said, as one starts to peel back into the details, many offer a “4-year degree” but when you get into the details, they require you to have completed the 2 years of preparatory work which includes flight hours, instrumentation, etc.before being admitted.

Your point is very valid, RE: if flying doesn’t work out, then a degree in a different field does make sense. decisions, decisions - not an easier answer for this.

Does your son have any other interests? Maybe he could get the Associates (which actually can get him a certificate or credential in some fields) and then attack ATP, fly for the regionals a bit and do a 2 year online program to finish a bachelors.

Example from my own field. To become a nurse you can use a 2 year program, sit for the license and get paid as an RN. At the basic level of nursing there is no difference in pay between a RN with an Associates or an RN with a Bachelor degree. There are a ton of Bachelor of Science completion programs online when the person wants to build onto the 2 year degree to work their way up to be a supervisor, or go onward to Medical school etc. Here are some other two year degrees that get your son an actual job as well:

  • Dental hygienist
  • Air traffic controller
  • Avionics technician
  • Web developer
  • Computer network support specialist
  • Geological and petroleum technicians
  • Chemical technicians
    Any one of those could have more schooling added to it to get to a Bachelor Degree when he’s ready. He doesn’t need that till he wants to fly for the “legacy” airlines (Delta, United etc.). Anyway as the website mentors are alluding to, there are many situations where he might be forced off the flight deck (illness or injury, a downturn in the airline travel sector etc.). He should really have a Plan B that is palatable to him.

Good luck!

I’d add business administration to a list of possible majors. If he gets a minor in airport/aviation management and decides that flying is not for him, he can still stay in aviation and move into airport management/operations. That’s usually a pretty fun albeit not very financially rewarding field.

Phillip:
My son from the age of 5 has been in some way, shape of form driven by planes. He has an interest in the Avionics side too which to your point is a great idea.

In all honesty, I tried to direct my son away from a pilot only because of the perceived complexity of navigating the education system/pilot license. Additionally, the cost to reward equation is not that straight forward.

That said, my son is still completely focused on being a pilot so that’s what I am trying to figure out with him on the best path forward.

This forum has been great to gather so much info on the possibilities!

Sergey: That is an option although the investment into a degree I believe must have a reasonable payback else these college grades come out of school with massive debt and little to no way of paying it back.

Indeed. That’s why I recommended Business Admin and not my close second choice of Underwater Basketweaving.

I took my instrument checkride with their chief pilot of the program, fun fact haha

Ivan,

I am a bit perplexed on some of your hang ups with this field. Yes, it is a complex process to get a pilots license and fly for the airlines, but literally hundreds of thousands of pilots have done it over the years. Just ATP themselves turns out well over 1,000 pilots per year. The process is no more complex than being a lawyer and is actually easier and much shorter than becoming a medical doctor. Any kind of advanced education will have a lengthy process to it that requires time, dedication and money to accomplish.

The cost to reward equation is rather straight forward. Please check out apostle’s in the FAQ section that is all about pilot pay.

As for the degree, it is necessary if your son ever wants to fly for the major airlines. The payback in this industry is not in using your degree, it is in having a degree to get to the majors, which is where the money is.

Education costs money, but it has its rewards and they are quantifiable.

I would encourage your son to join the discussion on here.

Chris

Chris:
I have come to realize that a pilot career is fantastic and a rewarding one too - thats why I am exploring these options. I think in my ideal world (and granted that is just one viewpoint), my son completes ATP and in parallel gets closer to a 4-year degree.

So again, I think it’s just the mechanics of lining things up. This forum has been a great tool for my son and me to work together on roadmap a career path.

Best
Ivan

Ivan,

I am glad the forum has been helpful. As I said, I would encourage your son to join the discussion. It is his career after all.

Chris