Real Answers from Real Pilots

Hesitent

Hello, I’m Alexander.

My interest for joining the aviation industry has been huge as of lately. I grew up flying around a lot with the benefits my Dad had from working for American Airlines, and for a short time at Delta (may have sparked my interest of flying). After graduating I served a two year LDS Mission in the Dominican Republic with a life changing experience with service to others.Not knowing what I really wanted to do after, I’ve been going from job to job. I realized that I want to just settle down and focus on something that will benefit me in the grander scheme of things. Growing up and always being told to go to college is something that has stuck with me but I never wanted to start without knowing what I really wanted to do. As I’ve reflected to my youth days I realized that I loved math, physics, and anything with numbers. I have of recent realized that I also love helping people. One occasion when speaking with my dad bout life he suggested being a pilot? Confused about this suggestion, I was also intrigued. I mean it basically summed up everything that I enjoyed in school and life.
After some research I’ve heard and have read a lot about ATP, being the best and also a fast route to becoming what I in the end hope to be, which is a Commercial Pilot. I’m currently located in Utah, a little ways out from the nearest ATP Flight School. Working a 9-5 job. I’m 22 and stay with my aunt. I’m ambitious, hardworking, and ready for a change.
I’ve flown around the US and on a few occasions to other countries countless amounts of times, but I have never been behind the wheel. I don’t have a private license or any experience with flying in that aspect and I guess my question is, should I go to ATP Flight School? If so is there any requirements to get in? My family is pretty tight on money so I know finances will be fully upon me and me alone, and with what I’ve read it seems like a loan would be the best route? I’ve read also that it’s not recommended to work a part time job at the same time of studying, so you can fully concentrate and what not. With that being said should I work and save up before attending or could I work at the same time? I’ve heard about the USAFA and the Marines but haven’t really found a clear route to it leading me to be a Commercial Pilot so I don’t know if that’s really a option? Don’t really know anyone whose a pilot or in the process, but thank goodness for the internet. I’ve been able to find some good information, but nothing beats human interaction so I brought my concerns here.

(Sorry for the life story) Hope to hear from ya’ll soon. Please be brutally honest and very thorough with your answers.

Alexander,

Only you can decide if be a pilot is for you. First and foremost you need to get up in the air. It’s honestly inconceivable to me how many people spend massive amounts of time and energy pondering flying as a profession but have never flown. If you’re seriously considering aviation as career you need to take an Intro flight at your nearest airport.

Assuming you go up and enjoy it then it’s a matter of the best route. ATP will not only you into the program without a Private Pilot’s License, a 2yr degree or equivalent work experience. They don’t want to waste your time and money nor want you to waste theirs. What we generally recommend is get a 2 yr degree at your local community college, then attend ATP, build time instructing and the complete your 4 yr degree online while you’re flying for a Regional. This is really the quickest route. The military produces some of the world’s best pilots but that requires a long commitment on your part and you won’t get near the cockpit of an airplane without a degree. While serving your country is admirable, I don’t recommend doing as the means to the airlines.

Hope this helps some?

Adam

1 Like

Alexander,

Welcome to the forums and thanks for posting!

The very first thing that you need to is take an introductory flight. It is one thing to fly in the back of an airplane, but a very different thing to actually fly it. An introductory flight will help you decide if you really want to be a pilot. You can take one at any local flight school or at an ATP location.

Most people do take out a loan to cover flight school, I did. Generally speaking you can take out a loan for the full amount, plus some living expenses. Talk to the admissions department on this one as they are the experts on loans. You will not be able to work while in the program, it is just too challenging and time consuming.

As to where you should go to school, only you can decide that. For me ATP was by far the best route, I liked how quickly I could obtain my ratings and the solid reputation of the school.

Let us know what other questions you have.

Chris

1 Like

Thank you Adam! That actually helped a lot. Made a lot of good points. When you say a 2 year degree or equivalent work experience, is there a specific major I should go into, or that they look for. Also what work would be equivalent to a 2 year degree?

Thank you again!

Thank you Chris! I’ll be sure to take an introductory flight. On another note did you attend college prior to going to ATP? If so for how long and for what?

Thank you again!

Alexander,

The airlines (and ATP) want a degree. The field of study is unimportant. I often recommend people study something other than aviation just in case they change their minds or want a Plan B. Equivalent work experience would be consistent and continuous work in a field with some level of responsibility.

Adam

1 Like

I did attend college before ATP. I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Keep in mind that the major airlines will all require a degree.

1 Like

Hey Chris,

Wanted to follow up on this conversation. I really want to fly for an airline and will do pretty much what it takes, but after reading all this I feel I may be out of luck. I am 33 and going to college hasn’t been my strong point, but I am very focused when it comes to aviation. So to clarify there is no way for me to attend an academy or get my commercial license to be part of an airline without some kind of college degree? :*(

Chris,

No, not at all. Plenty of flight schools will accept you without college, ATP included. The regionals will hire you without college. The issue is with the major airlines. They will absolutely require a degree.

Chris

Thanks Chris,

I have 2 more questions and thank you for being so prompt to help me out as I am really wanting to make the right steps.

  1. Whats the regionals? Excuse my ignorance on this?

  2. Should I then go ahead and attend ADP and go to college after and will I have flight work once I graduate ATP or will I still need to find another job?

I currently work in IT and it’s not to hard to find a job in this field, but I would love my job to be flying so was wondering what to expect after ATP.

Chris,

  1. The regionals are airlines like Skywest, ExpressJet, Republic, etc that do contract work for the major airlines under the “express” banner. They usually fly smaller airplanes and pay less than major airlines. Do a quick google search of “regional airline” and you will be able to find a complete description.

  2. Most people chose to flight instruct for ATP as a means of building their flight hours before applying to the regional airlines. ATP actually guarantees a CFI job to those who meet certain criteria.

You could certainly go to ATP, then instruct there, get hired by a regional and then go to college online. Many people have done this and enjoyed much success with this approach.

Chris

1 Like

Thanks a bunch Chris! I actually contacted ATP and found out they require a college degree or private pilots license to join the program, but then they sold me since I have 15 years of IT to send my resume in and they might accept it instead. That got me really excited so hope they accept it.

If they do I will do my best to find the living expenses for the duration of the program and while im working for reginals (if I get hired that is) I will work on my college education so I can be part of the major airlines.

Last question though. If I was a trainer for ATP and working on my 1500 flight hours how long would you said that could take? 2-4 years?

Hey Chris,

I can answer that question for Chris. An instructor for ATP can reach 1500
hours in as little as 18 months, but it depends on a lot of factors that
are outside of one’s control like student load, weather, maintenance
issues, etc. Two years is very doable. I instructed for 23 months.

Tory

Thanks Tory!