Real Answers from Real Pilots

2yr college and military

So I am looking at a 2yr community college for aviation, then joining the military. I ONLY want to join the military if I can fly. Is this a good route to take? Should I join the military and just skip college? I’m about to graduate high school and need to make some big decisions soon. I have other options for college that will get me 2 degrees one in aviation and the other in whatever else they offer but it would be a 4 yr college. I would prefer not to do that because I really don’t want to stay in Michigan and this community college would be in North Carolina (much warmer). I know the college in Michigan would be much better because it gives me two degrees but really I’d be getting the same 2yr aviation program wherever I go. I would much prefer going to the military than instructing or whatever other job I would get. Will the major airlines still consider me with a 2yr degree and military experience or do I NEED the 4yr degree? Thanks.

Brian,

If you ask ANY pilot who served in the military they’ll tell you enlisting to learn to fly is a terrible reason. If your desire is to serve and defend your country then by all means, but it’s a huge commitment. Simply not wanting to instruct is definitely not enough.

Further with the exception of the Army, you’re not getting anywhere near the cockpit of an airplane without a 4yr degree. The Army will let you fly helicopters but you’ll still need to transition to airplanes at some point which will add to your commitment.

Finally while the airlines respect military service, a 2yr degree and military service does not equal a 4yr degree. If you want to fly for a Major airline you’ll need to get one and even then there’s no guarantee and definitely no shortcuts.

Adam

Brian,

Welcome to the forums. Joining the military should be something that one does solely because they want to serve their country, not to get free flight training or seek out some short cut. A few other things here, military pilots are almost all officers, this means that they have four year degrees. Also, the major airlines will want to see a four year degree as well, so you might as well get one now.

Take some time and read the FAQ section of this website, it should help answer a lot of your questions.

Chris

Brian,

I used to think that I only wanted to join the military only if I could fly as well. Then I realized I just wanted to find a way to not pay for flight training because I didn’t want to take out a loan. My conversation with a recruiter ended pretty quickly and I never received a follow up from the recruiter. Shocker :wink:

If your goal is to become an airline pilot, the fastest way to do that is through a civilian accelerated flight training program like ATP and the best way to build time is by instructing. We recommend you reconsider your priorities.

Tory

Okay I have been thinking about it some more, and who knows it this is going to be my final decision or not but I’m just looking for some type of input on it. So I have thought quite thoroughly and realized that the military is probably not my ideal route to go. Instead, I am thinking about taking a gap year to build up more funds and flat out become more responsible and mature. With that, Are there any ways I can start progressing during this next year out of school or should I just wait? I definitely plan on getting some simulators and other similar equipment but what about actual courses and things of that nature. I could definitely do more discovery flights but I would want to do more actual flying or at least get closer to it. Finally, after the gap year would I be able to do a 2yr college and then atp? I’m not sure if atp counts as college education or not. Sorry for asking so many questions but I really appreciate the feedback, thank you.

Brian,

These are adult decisions only you can make. You can definitely go to ATP after a 2yr degree but know to be successful in airlines you’re going to need a 4yr degree.

If part of the goal of your gap year is to save money I wouldn’t waste any on simulators or anything of the kind. Using a flight simulator without proper guidance or instruction is not only a waste of money, it can actually cause some bad habits you’ll need to unlearn. In my experience the people who show up saying “I’ve got 5,000hrs on MSFS” are some of the worst students ever. Many think they have skills when all they are is good at a video game. ATP will teach you to fly and provide you with everything you need.

Fun fact: anyone can show up at the DMV and take the written and road tests. The FAA requires a specific amount of instruction and a I sign off from a licensed instructor before you can test.

Adam

Brian,
Glad you have decided against joining the military. As others have said, I think it’s a bad idea unless you have a strong deserve to serve your country. What is the reasoning for a gap year? You need a four year degree (eventually) and you need to accomplish flight training, but a gap year does nothing to further either of those goals. If it’s to save money, I can understand that. But what if you use that year to start at community college with very little costs, and work a part time job on the side? That way you can save money and still be progressing towards both goals? You absolutely would be maturing along the way taking college classes and working.

-Hannah

Brian,

I am not a fan of computer based simulators. I find that they often teach very bad habits and a false sense of knowledge. I recommend saving your money and putting it towards flight school, not a simulator.

Two years of community college will help you meet ATP’s entry requirements, but it combined with ATP will still not be equivalent to a four year degree, which you will need for the majors.

Chris