Do I need a bachelors degree to become a professional pilot?

 I need to make a decision on whether or not I should be pursuing an associates or bachelors degree or go straight to ATP flight school's professional pilot program. I'm 26 years old with a high school diploma and have been working in my family's business since I got out of school and I'm looking for my next step in a career. I would much rather go straight into learning my profession and get a job in the industry then go through four years of college which would put me at 30 years old just getting started with flight school. Is having a college degree on my resume worth the delay in getting started with training and getting a job in the industry? I would love some advice.


2 Replies
1431 Posts

@Levi Haney
It depends.  Are you absolutely sure a) you want to be a pilot, and b) you'll stay healthy enough to keep a First Class medical the rest of your working life?  If so, go straight to the cockpit.  If not, get the degree first.


@Levi Haney If you have a real interest in flying and no medical issues, then flight school might be the best next step. Some of the airlines and freight carriers have dropped the requirement for a college degree and the demand for pilots is high now. Flight training is relatively short compared to a 4-year college education, but it takes a while to build up the 1,500 minimum hours needed to work for the airlines. Historically, pilot demand fluctuates depending on the air transportation market. Another pandemic like COVID and demand could drop like a rock, putting you out of a job and leaving you with no other marketable skills.

However, if you are not really interested in flying, then the college education might better prepare you for other employment and a higher income. Flying is not for everyone. Flying with the airlines is more like being a systems engineer due to the complexity of the aircraft. The number of high paying airline pilot jobs is a lot smaller than the number of airline pilots and it takes a lot of flight time at much lower salaries before you have the seniority to get one those jobs. In other words, don't expect to make a lot of money for many years.