Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is it ok to go to a flight school instead of college?

Hello. My name is Noah and I am a junior in high school. I would like to work for a major airline in the future (Delta, American, KLM, etc.) . My family is not the richest and I can see the costs of going to maybe a college plus the 60-70k or so of flight school being a major issue to my career. Is it a bad idea to go to a place like ATP immediately after high school to work towards a major airline, orwould I get shot down when I get to Delta or another major airline. Not sure if my question makes sense, but anything helps, and if you have any other ideas please let me know. Also drop some good colleges to research as well. I know becoming a pilot is an expensive ambition, but I believe anything is possible, and I know I can make it work. Thanks in advance!!!

Hello Noah,

First off ATP will not accept any students right out of High School. ATP requires all students to have either their Private Pilot License, a 2yr degree or comparable work experience which means working a full-time job for at least 2yrs. Second while you can get hired at a Regional with no degree, you would as you say “get shot down” when you try to get to a Major (particularly Delta and American). The good news is while the Majors require a degree they are less concerned where you get it so it need not be expensive. A very common route is to go to your local community college and get a 2yr degree. Get trained at ATP and get hired at a Regional within 2yrs after that. THEN work on your BA degree online with significantly reduced credits from you 2yr and pilot licenses and ratings while flying for a Regional. You’re 100% correct it is very possible and you can make it work.

Adam

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Awesome!! Two more questions. Would I get rejected from a major airline with a just a 2 year bachelors degree? And also does the tuition of ATP cover the cost of all your multiple licenses? Thanks again Adam.

The checkride fees are additional at ATP, around $6,500 I’ve heard right now.

I’m not aware of a 2 year bachelors degree, but I believe the majors are looking for a BA/BS from an appropriately accredited university, regardless of how long it takes you to get.

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Noah,

It’s not impossible to get hired at A Major without a 4yr BA but it makes it VERY difficult. You have to understand getting hired at a Major is significantly more difficult then getting hired at a Regional. The competition is very tight and the majority of candidates will have 4yr degrees so what would make them “lower the bar” for you? The tuition at ATP covers ALL you licenses and ratings from Private, Commercial, Instrument, Multiengine and all 3 Instructor ratings (CFI, CFII, MEI). The only license not included is your ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) as that requires 1500hrs and that you’ll earn after you’re hired by a Regional as part of your training.

Adam

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Noah,

The bottom line is that you will need a degree. As you will see if you scroll through the threads on this forum, this is a very common question that we the mentors always answer the same way. Getting a degree now would be the best time to do it, while you are still fresh out of high school. You are still in learning mode and you have the time to do it.

Your best bet would be to do what Adam suggested. Get a 2 year degree now, attend ATP, and then finish up the 4 year online once you start building hours. You won’t have much left to complete between the ratings (between 30-35 credits) and the Associate’s degree.

Yarden

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Awesome. I know I keep saying this but your knowledge of all of this is really helping out. What is a good college I can earn my degree from that is on the cheaper side? (30000 or less). Thanks again!!!

Noah,

I would give your local community college a good look. In many states you can transfer all of those credits to a state university and the community colleges are much less expensive than traditional schools.

Chris

It is a good idea to consider where you may want to finish as well and coordinate your classes, most universities have a requirement that some minimum number of credits must be earned at that school to earn a degree from their institution.

I saw earlier it doesn’t matter which school you receive your BS from. Is that really true? Majors don’t care if you receive a BS/Aeronautical Science degree from ERAU or a Lewis University? It seems ERAU requires separate fees for ratings/flight school while Lewis’ tuition INCLUDES the ratings/flights school training.

Kristi,

It does not matter which school you get your degree from, as long as it is an accredited school. Furthermore, the airlines do not really have a preference for what your major is, as long as it is something reasonable. My degree is in business administration, I have known people to have degrees in history, sciences, even music composition. Of course there are plenty of people with degrees in aviation as well. Bottom line, just get a four year degree.

Chris

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Thank you very much for your quick response.

Anytime. Let us know how else we can help you!

Chris what could you tell me about the Skywest Cadet program, and how would that fit in to a preferred timeline of 2-year degree, then flight school, then finish up 4 year degree. (If my question makes any sense)

Noah,

In this post Yarden (who’s a SkyWest Pilot) gives a good explanation regarding the Cadet Program:

As far as your plan goes it would fit in just fine. You simply would be committing to SkyWest earlier and gain some benefits of that arrangement.

Adam

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Noah,

The Cadet Program at SkyWest wouldn’t really take much part in your plan. Basically, the whole things takes all of 2 days at some point during your time as a CFI. Afterwards you won’t really be doing anything through the program other than speaking to your mentor every once in a while.

Check out the link that Adam posted for a little bit more info regarding this program and shoot over any other questions that you have here in this thread. By the way, the nice thing about this program is that unlike other places that offer a cash signing bonus, this is free and requires no commitment from you to SkyWest.

Yarden

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Hello Adam,

I am currently 15 years old and a soon to be sophomore. I was wondering if You could review my current plan on how to become a pilot.

At 16 i would preferably like to start learning the basics by going to flight schools to build some hours, and do that till i graduate HS. After that, I would study online at the night school National University to get my associates and get trained at ATP after. Then continue my BA at National University while being a CFI to build my hours. Eventually, this will lead me to become a commercial pilot.

I guess what I’m really asking is, does ATP give me the hours to become a commercial pilot after I finish, or will I have to continue to build my hours after the course?

Holly,

First at 15 you’re too young to participate in this forum but you’re welcome to read the FAQ section as well as the MANY threads we have on the subject.

As to your question while yes ATP provides the hours, licenses and ratings to be a Commercial pilot (ie, a professional), I believe you’re probably using the word “commercial” to mean an airline pilot? If that’s the case NO flight school can provide the required 1500hrs you need to fly for an airline. You’d need to build that time on your own (most commonly flight instructing).

Adam

I’ve always wanted to be a pilot since I was a child and I am trying to learn as much as possible about what my future has in store thank you for your response.

Hello everyone,

What is more recommended, go to flight academy and do your training or join 4 years Aviation program in university? I am trying to see the best option that give me the higher chances to become a commercial pilot.
Does it really matter where you do the training or is it only about how many hours and experience you have?

I live in Chicago area and there is ATP academy that I am thinking to join, any other recommendation is highly appreciated :slight_smile:

BTW, I am 28 years old, I have my master degree in IT. I have decided to pursue my career as a pilot since it is my dream since I was a child.

I appreciate if you can give me your insight weather the school name makes any different.

Thank you :slight_smile: