Real Answers from Real Pilots

Options when starting from 0 hours and no degree

Im a 28 year old woman and Im just starting this process. I have no degree and almost no experience. Ive flown with a family friend and hes shown me the basics and let me fly a little bit. And ever since Ive been hooked and I know this is what I need to do with my life. My question is, whats the best and most time efficient way to get a degree and commercial pilots license. I plan on going to the majors (hopefully) and I know a degree is required. I would rather not go to school for 4 years and then add the extra time and cost for flight school if possible.(Although I am willing to do anything it takes, even if it means taking 6 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars, just thought I’d ask)

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Alexandra,

You probably don’t wanna hear this but the best thing (I think) is to get a
4 year degree first and then attend a fast-track flight training program.
If you try to do both at the same it will most likely take you longer in
the end.

Tory

Alexandra,

While it definitely takes some discipline and hard work, I’m a fan of breaking up the education. It works out favorably both time and economically. What I’m saying is get a 2 yr degree at a local community college (convenient and inexpensive), do your training and instruct to build your time (obviously I’m a fan of ATP), get hired at a Regional and then complete your 4yr online while working at a Regional. This gets you HIRED and working as an airline pilot (building seniority) in about 4yrs and you’ll have your degree by the time you’re ready to go to a Major.

Adam

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Thanks so much for your input. Whats your opinion on me not possibly even applying for a major until im 34? Will it hinder me a great deal and hurt my chances of being hired?

Thats what I was thinking, didnt know if there were other better options. That sounds like the best plan to me. Thanks so much for your response.

Alexandra,

Not sure I understand what you mean when you say “Whats your opinion on me not possibly even applying for a major until I’m 34?”. I you suggesting that 34 is too old? If that’s the case you should know the MAJORITY of pilots don’t make it to a Major till their 30’s. This is not a job, it’s a career. Careers take time to build and work your way through the ranks. The Majors are the top of the food chain and the reality is many pilots never get there. I’m not trying to discourage you in any way but if you were thinking you’d be flying a 777 for Delta at 25 you’re very mistaken.

Adam

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I understand very well that its a career and long process. I was just wondering what influence my age will have on getting a chance over the younger people applying for the same position. Also, what stops most pilots from reaching the major level?

Alexandra,

The average new hire pilot age at United is well over 35, so I can’t see this possibly being an issue for you.

Chris

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Alexandra,

For most pilots that do not make it to a major airline it is because they lack a four year college degree. Other reasons include numerous traffic citations or a DUI. Get a degree, stay out of trouble, and you should be fine.

Chris

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