Real Answers from Real Pilots

Prospective pilot from canada

Hey everyone, I have few questions about becoming a pilot.

First off I hear a lot of chatter about how it’s hard to get hired on a major airline without a degree. Is this true? I do not have a degree ( I am an Agricultural technician) , but I do have my Red seal (Diploma from a college for completing the apprenticeship program).

Another question I have is about my financial situation. I am making very good money at the job I am working right now and am wondering what the best way/ way that makes the most financial sense to get my license. I am going to be taking a FAM flight at a local flight school and if all goes well, will be getting my private pilots license as a part time endeavor so that I can still be making money to help pay for flight lessons. Once I have my private pilots license would it be beneficial for me to get my pilots license taking lessons full time or to work away at it while working full time? Also I should also mention that I am at a stage in my life where I already own a house and a vehicle along with a couple toys (quad, snowmobile) so I would like to prolong working as a flight instructor/on a ramp as long as I can as I understand those jobs do not pay near as well. That being said, I do understand that if I want this to work and want to make this a career I am going to have to make some sacrifices and I am willing to do that, but would like other’s opinions on how they would do it if they were in my shoes.

Thanks in advance for the replies I appreciate you help.

Nathan,

To get hired at a major airline you will need a four year college degree. I am not versed in the red seal, but I can tell you that the majors will be looking for a full degree.

I am one that believes that if you really want something you should jump right in. Taking longer to get through your licenses simply means taking longer to get to where you want to be. As to prolonging flight instructing, the FAA requires that airline pilots have at least 1,500 hours of flight time, instructing is the way the vast majority of pilots build that time, so you would only be prolonging getting to your career goal.

I know that it is tough to make such a big leap of faith, but sometimes major change requires that.

Chris

Hi Nathan,

While it’s not entirely impossible to get hired without a 4yr degree a) you’d severely be limiting your options and b) far less competitive than EVERYONE else that does.

Not only am I a fan of full time training, personally, I believe if you want to be a professional there is no other way. Flying skills need to be built on and the only way to consistently progress is with consistent training. Now you also say you “make good money”. I have no idea what you consider that to be but let me offer this, senior airline Capts earn over $300k a year (I just did a trip to PEK with a senior Capt who got double time for a last minute call. We dep Sun night at 11pm and were home Tues afternoon at 4pm. He earned $13,000 for that trip. To me that’s good money). Now if training full time saves you just 1 year (it will be more but I’m being very conservative) that’s one more year you could be making $300k which will buy ALOT of toys. In my mind it’s not a question.

Adam

Thanks for the replies guys. I should have clarified. I’m 25 years old. Last year I made right at 100k. To me that’s good money but I guess compared to 300k that doesn’t seem like much ha ha. I will have to say I’m kinda bummed out over your replies (no fault of yours). I just can’t see myself going back to school to get a degree, while attending flight school without having to sell my house and pretty much everything I own to be able to pay for it.(I can live without toys but i don’t like the idea of going backwards and having to sell my house.) That being said I’m not sure I would even qualify for a student loan because of owning a house ect… do you guys know if it is equally as hard to get hired onto regional airlines without a degree? I don’t know how much regional airlines pay but I’d be happy making what I am now(after working my way up the ladder of course) as long as I am doing what i love.

Nathan,

There is no degree requirement at all for the regional airlines, you will be fine getting hired there without a degree. As to the finances, call the admissions department and talk to them, they are the experts on finances.

Chris

Nathan,

At 25 making $100k a year, if you tighten your belt, save a few dollars then take a Home Equity loan, I don’t see why you would have a problem or sell your home. As Chris said you’d have no issues getting hired without a degree at a Regional where you’ll top at around $100k after a few years. Also there’s nothing that would preclude you from applying to the Majors just don’t be surprised if you see your peers getting picked up while you’re not. I know many fines pilots who after getting frustrated decided to get their degrees online while flying for a Regional and then getting picked up. No need to get “bummed” but you do need to be realistic.

Adam

Thanks for the replies guys! Appreciate your honesty and feedback!