Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is it possible to be a regional jet pilot without a degree?

Ever since I was 5 flying an airplane was my main goal in life. Now I am on the cusp of graduating high school and I am kind of impatient about going another 4 years of college (to get the 4 year degree for the majors) and then doing flight training and instructing for another 4 years with ATP. So is it possible to fly for a regional jet airline like Express Jet with a high school diploma?

Justin,

Flight training and instructing with ATP is two years, not four. https://atpflightschool.com/airline-career-pilot-program/flight_training.html

Yes, it is absolutely possible to get hired at a regional airline without a college degree, but you will be be severely limiting your career potential unless you plan to get a degree while you are at the regional as the majors are all going to want to see one on your resume.

It should be pointed out that ATP requires two years of college experience or work experience or a Private Pilot license before entering their program, so as it stands right now you would not be eligible to join the program.

I would strongly recommend that you bite the bullet and get your degree, you will be glad you did when you are applying to the majors.

Chris

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Justin,

As Chris said you’ll be severely limiting your potential AND you also wouldn’t be able to train at ATP (which is the most efficient route to an airline career. I would encourage you to maybe compromise and at least get your 2yr degree. First it’ll give you a degree which is never a bad thing, 2) it’ll allow you to train with ATP which is a great decision and 3) WHEN (not if) you’ve been flying for a Regional for 6yrs or so and start seeing your friends moving on to the Majors, flying around the world and getting paid 3 times what you are you’ll already be halfway to that 4yr degree which you can bang out while still flying for the Regional.

Adam

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Justin,

I agree with Adam and Chris on this one, you will not regret getting a degree. I am 27 years old now and my learning ability is much less than when I was your age, let alone my motivation for schooling, so getting my degree now while working at a regional is much harder than if I would have knocked it out right after high school. It is definitely doable and is pretty common among pilots to work on a degree while flying at a regional, but I would have much rather have done it earlier.

What Adam suggested is a very good idea because you will be able to get a significant amount of credits for your pilot certificates and ratings once you finish ATP’s program (or any other flight school) towards a Bachelors degree. This means that you can finish up a 4yr degree with minimal time and effort later when you are building seniority and flight time at a regional.

Yarden

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Thank you Chris! You have further solidified my decision on why I will be going to college first before training with ATP. I plan on getting a degree in Education so that if I ever have a falling out in aviation I will have a degree to fall back on!

Thank you Adam! I appreciate your comment! It is not every day that high schooler can seek the wisdom and knowledge of a pilot! Thank for your input I will use your advise and still go to college!
Thanks,
Justin

Thank you Yarden! I hope that you will complete your degree soon so that you too can work in the majors and reach the full potential of commercial aviation!
Thanks,
Justin

Justin,

I think that is a great idea. An education degree could certainly come in handy if you ever decide to enter the training department at your airline.

Chris