Real Answers from Real Pilots

Should I get my 2 year degree first?

First off I wanna say I love this forum you guys are really informative and specific for a lot of questions being asked you answered majority of the questions I would’ve had but I’m still unsure as to which route I should take to becoming a flight pilot. I know you guys push going to college first and getting your degree then focus on getting your flight training done along with your PPL, CL, Multiple engine rating, your various instrument ratings, ATPL, and other certifications and licenses you would have to have. I’m 21 about to be 22 in a month and I still haven’t gotten my associates degree yet due to slacking off in school and just really unsure as to what I wanna study. But recently I had the idea to wanna be a professional pilot and have been trying to research as much information as I can about it. I would love to eventually fly for the majors but I know it’s literally almost impossible without obtaining a 4 year degree so my question is this upcoming spring I plan to re-enroll in school and really hit the books and get my grades back up to standards and eventually get my associates degree and apply for ATP training. Hopefully get through ATP get hired at a regional and finish my BA degree online so I can have a shot a flying for the majors. Do you think this route is the best and quickest route? And do you believe it’s possible for me to achieve it? Also one more question. For ATP training do you receive all of your certifications, ratings, licenses, and flight experience besides your ATPL? And if you do can you get hired for a regional without having your ATPL(1500 flight hours)?

Mack,

Your proposed route to the airlines sounds good and is in fact what we usually recommend.

Unless you go to an aviation college, or the military, there are no exceptions to the 1,500 hour rule. If you do your training at ATP, you will have all of the licenses necessary, except the ATP, which your regional airline should help you with.

You will need to plan on flight instructing, or some other way of building hours, until you have the 1,500 hours that are necessary for the Airlines.

Chris

Mack,

First to just get it out of the way, ATP requires either a 2yr degree, a PPL or equivalent work experience to enroll. Since you say you’ve been in school but have been “slacking off” it’s doubtful you have the equivalent work experience so that should make your decision easier. I have to say I appreciate your honesty. We get many people on here with any number of excuses why they’ve accomplished nothing since high school but none of it is ever their fault so kudos. In case your wondering why ATP has this requirement it’s specifically because the program requires a tremendous amount of hard work, discipline and focus and they need something to demonstrate that a person has that, hence the degree, the PPL or the work. Make sense? Aside from that it’s also a good idea for you. If you’ve got your 2 yr degree AND getting credit for all your licenses and ratings, getting that 4yr degree is very manageable while you’re flying at a Regional. If you don’t it becomes a much harder thing to accomplish.

The good news is you’re 100% correct. The ATP Career Pilot Program gives you ALL the licenses and ratings you will require except of course the ATP cert. Complete the training and do well, accept your guaranteed instructor position (and at 500 hrs accept conditional letter of employment with the Regional of your choice and start collecting Tuition Reimbursement), reach 1500hrs and the Regional with complete your ATP cert training as part of your newhire program and be flying as an airline pilot in about 2yrs from when you started. Mack I know this may sound like it’s too good to be true or a commercial with the fine print at the bottom that says “these results are not guaranteed and yours may vary” but the fact is ATP placed over 300 pilots at Regional airlines last year alone. This is literally the best time in history to start this career.

Adam

Chris,

Thank you so much for the helpful feedback. I see that you mentioned aviation college and the military for flight hours? If I got into an aviation college would I receive all my licenses and ratings in school? And would I still have gain 1500 flight hours after graduating from school?

Adam,

Thank you so much for your insight on the matter you’re super informative and helpful. A quick note I see you said if “I get my 2 year degree AND get credit for all your licenses and ratings.” Do you mean those licenses and ratings can be transferred into college credit? And once I finish ATP and do well to become a guaranteed instructor do I have to have 500 hours before accepting the conditional letter of employment? And once I’m hired for a regional am I hired for an instructor position until I reach the 1500 hours?

Mack,

Ok let me clarify. First there are many colleges that will a) allow you to transfer some (or all) of your credits from your 2yr degree and b) yes if you go for an aviation degree some will also give you credits for your licenses and ratings. The time can vary but generally the Regionals will allow you to sign a conditional letter of employment at approx. 500hrs (can be more, can be less but 500 is average). After that you’re required to continue instructing with ATP until you build the 1500hrs if you want to use the Tuition Reimbursement. By staying with ATP as an instructor the airline has a way they can monitor your progress and they also have a good idea of when to expect you’ll be ready.

Adam

Adam,

Thank you for clearing that up for me but one more question. Once I finish ATP training will I have enough time as an instructor to start classes online for finishing up my BA or would it still be putting to much of a strain on me? Should I wait until I actually start flying for a regional to start online classes towards finishing up my BA?

Mack,

I would absolutely wait until you were at a regional before starting any online classes. The demands of instructing are just too great to be trying to manage a school load and instructing.

Chris

Mack,

Definitely wait till you’re at a Regional. ATP flight instructors are kept very busy and it’s just a bit too much. When you’re at a Regional however you’ll find you have quite a bit of spare time.

Adam

Chris,

I can’t thank you enough you been a tremendous amount of help helping me to grasp a better understanding of the steps I should take to become a professional pilot.

Adam,

I can’t thank you enough for helping me with all my questions I had and questions I may have in the future you’ve given me a better insight about how I should go about it. I really appreciate your advice you’ve given me for my future endeavors.

No worries, my friend. That is what we are here for :slight_smile: