Real Answers from Real Pilots

Straight out of High School

I’m 18 years old and this upcoming August, I will be attending the University of Iowa as an undecided major… I don’t really know what career path I want to head down, but that’s okay. Aviation and piloting have just recently become an interest of mine, but I honestly have no clue how to obtain a job, where to start, what schooling or training I need to complete, or if becoming a pilot is even something I want to do for the rest of my life. I haven’t done much research, mostly because I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for, but my questions are these:

  • how much time do pilots have with their families? Do you see your family often? Is piloting just one of those jobs where you are out of the house for weeks at a time?
  • does the job come with more stress than most other jobs?
  • again, I haven’t looked into it, but would there be anything at the University of Iowa to evolve my interest in this occupation?
  • what would be my best move as of right now- I’m interested in piloting, but unsure?
  • is flight school expensive?
  • do I complete college with a bachelor’s degree? Does it matter what field of study?

Hi Colon and welcome,

I’ll try and answer your questions as best I can but to be honest there are many variables that effect many of the questions.

  1. Depends. There is no standard answer. Different airlines have different operation. There are airlines where you can be home every night, others you’ll be gone weeks at a time. It’s really up to you to decide what you want to do and pursue that job. That said, most pilots start at the Regionals and start with minimum seniority so you won’t have much choice where, when and for how long you fly for a few years.

  2. Depends on you. Some people find the job very stressful, some create their own stress. Personally the cockpit is my “happy place”. I recently got a fitness tracker with built in HR monitor and my pulse is actually lowest when I’m at work.

  3. Obviously aviation courses would be a good gauge of your interest but I have no clue if the University of Iowa has any?

  4. Right now there are 2 things you should do. First take an Intro flight. It blows my mind that people would consider a career in aviation having never flown an airplane. They see planes or have ridden in the back but that has little to do with what we do. Before you entertain it as a career you need to try it. Second finish your education and do well. It’ll serve you for the rest of your life.

  5. Depends on what YOU consider expensive? The complete cost of your training at ATP is $65,995. While that’s certainly not cheap, it’s cheaper than many advanced degrees and has the potential to earn you over $300k a year.

  6. To fly for a Major airline you will need a BA degree and being so young you’ll definitely want to make it to a Major so yes you should complete your degree. Field of study doesn’t matter, they simply want the degree. I always encourage people to study something other than aviation as a backup in case you change your mind or things simply don’t work out.

Adam