Real Answers from Real Pilots

How do I get started?

Greetings friends! I am a 21 year old male from Virginia interested in a flying career. I’ve loved flying for as long as i can remember and a friend told me about ATP. I just dont know how to get started. Do i need to have a private pilot’s certificate prior to going to flight school? If you could please bless me with your knowledge. I have set my goal to attend ATP within the next 2 years after my financial situation stabilizes.

Hello and welcome to the forum. You do not need a Private license before beginning ATP. In fact, most students do not have one when they begin. Check out ATP’s website at www.atpflightschool.com it will have everything you want to know about the training offerings right there.

Before you commit to being a pilot, you really need to go up for an introductory flight. You can take one with ATP, or just about any other flight school. An introductory lesson is a great way to see if flying is really something that you are interested in doing for a living.

Chris

Thank you for your advice Chris. I had a couple of questions as well. I know that with ATP, once you complete the 9 month program, and you get the minimum 1500 flight hours, you are eligible to be hired by a regional airline. Could you eventually move up to a major carrier with experience, or do they have extra requirements, like a 4 year college degree or something like that? thank you again

Jonnathan,

Yes the Majors want a 4yr degree so that needs to be part of your plan. Also know that ATP will not accept students without either their Private Pilot license or a 2yr degree or equivalent work experience.

Adam

Adam,

This is very helpful. I want to make sure that i have everything necessary before committing to ATP. I have been working for about 2 years now after i got out of high school, but do you think it would be helpful to have the private pilots certificate as well?

Jonnathan

Jonnathan,

We always recommend that it’s better to do all your training with ATP from start to finish so there’s consistency. I also believe education is important (as does ATP) which is why they require the 2yr degree and I also recommend that as well. If you’ve been working steady at a job with some responsibility ATP may accept that (at their discretion). Honestly I’d much rather see you get the 2yr degree than your Private License but ultimately the choice is yours. Keep in mind after a few years when you see all your friends moving on to the Majors and you’re stuck earning a 4yr degree online (while doable) can be a bear. If you have your 2yr already you’re half way there.

Give it some thought.

Adam

I’ll add some input. I got my private certificate a year before starting ATP and while it was fun, getting to ATP I realized all my private pilot knowledge was not still there and I needed a good amount of review. I also had to learn ATPs ways of doing things. If you start from private you will learn from the beginning their procedures and there won’t be a learning curve going from one flight school to another. I also had some habits I had picked up that we had to work on. It has worked out, but honestly if you don’t have your private yet, I would reccomend getting it through ATP.

2 Likes

Adam,

I have never considered a 2 year degree, and it sounds like an excellent idea to be honest. Plus its something that i will need to do regardless to join the Majors, like you said. Do you have any recommendations? I was taking a look at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s associates program, i noticed it was right next to the ATP in Daytona Beach, but im not sure if thats a good place to start

Tucker,

Thank you for your imput. ATP sounds pretty legitimate compared to other flight schools ive been looking into, especially here in VA.

Jonnathan,

Riddle is a great school with some great programs. My only problem with them (and many universities) is the cost. When you go to apply to the Majors you’ll say “I earned my BA (BS) from XYZ University”, where you did your 2yrs is relatively unimportant AND that’s generally a good place to bang out your core requirements. In light of that why not save some cash (unless that’s not an issue) and go to your local community college on the cheap? Get your 2 yr from your CC (wherever is convenient), go to ATP, instruct, get hired at a Regional and THEN get your BS from Riddle online (where you’ll get credit for not only your 2yr BUT also your licenses and ratings) and save yourself a $100k and be building seniority as a pilot in min time. Plus you’ve got a BS degree from Embry Riddle for a fraction of the price.

Again these are simply suggestions and I encourage you to do some of your own research but the above is a route that has been successful for many people.

Adam

Adam,

These are great suggestions, and i do appreciate it very much. Please educate me as much as you can because no one has explained to me this in as much detail as you have. I assumed that you had to go to a legitimate University to get hired by the majors, i didn’t think that you can start from CC. If there is one thing i do not have is money, so I am trying to save as much as humanly possible. So can I, let’s say take 2 years of a language, French, for example, in my local community college and get those credits transferred to Riddle? I’m sorry if i seem annoying with all these questions Adam, i really am i’m just trying to learn as much as i can, do some more extended research, and take the best course of action.

Embry Riddle’s degree program is highly respected, they would be a good starting point.

Community colleges are not themselves universities, but many schools (especially state schools in the same state) will accept all of the credits earned there.

You will need to contact Embry Riddle directly to ask about what they will allow you to transfer in.

Thank you Chris,

Do you know what are some degrees that i could take at Riddle or at the community college level that are relevant to becoming a pilot? and one thing i heard is that you need to have excellent credit to be hired by the majors. How true is this?

You can major in anything you like, in fact, I recommend it. While some pilots chose to get a degree in aviation, many chose to major in other areas as it gives you a backup plan in case flying does not work out for you.

Something to keep in mind though is that associate’s degrees (2 year degrees) generally do not have a specific field of study. Typically the two years at a community college serve to get all of the general education requirements out of the way, then the actual field of study classes are taken at the university proper.

Chris

Jonnathan,

Don’t take my word for it, do some homework. As long as the CC you attend is a legitimate college (not Joe’s College and School of Basket Weaving) credits are credits. I contacted Riddle years ago when I was thinking of getting my Masters and they were incredibly helpful. Spend some time on their website and I’m sure you can find some answers or just give them a call. Honestly this is nothing new or overly creative I’m talking about here and it’s a fairly common practice here in the US. Colleges have gotten incredibly expensive and most average students simply don’t have the means. I made a deal with my children when it came to school. Go to CC for the first 2 yrs (save your dad some cash) and I’ll take care of what comes after. They all did and the one that continued on had zero issues transferring her credits to her fancy overly priced university I’ll be paying off forever :slight_smile:

As Chris said the point at the CC is to take care of your gen. education credits and then you can get your aviation degree (or whatever you like after).

Major airlines look at EVERYTHING. While you don’t need perfect credit they really don’t want to see disastrous problems. While I it’s not appropriate to make sweeping indictments there is often a correlation between bad credit and other domestic issues. If your goal is a Major do your best to keep EVERYTHING problem free. Criminal record, driving record, credit score etc. Simply put the Majors don’t like “problem children”.

Adam

Thank you Chris and Adam. I feel a lot more confident now, and i have a much better understanding of what i need to do. I will keep you updated on my progress. I am very grateful that you’ve shared your knowledge with me.