36yo no degree, zero experience and about to start!

I have done my introductory flight and i love it. I will have my first class medical done this week and if is all good i will make the deposit, once I have access to study material I will prepare for all the written exams that i plan to do before start.

I have no degree, i am originally from Brazil living here for 15 years and i am also a american citizen. Based on my work history i am eligible for ATP school.

I have no aviation experience, i am very determined and i know this wont be a issue, and I am glad i have the funds so I wont need a student loan.

Based on my research i know that i will need a degree in order to work at the majors, but because i will be close to 40 by the time I start, I am not sure if will be the best move to get a degree during the time i am at the regional, and then go to the majors and start all over as a new hire.

My question is can i have a good career working only at the Regionals? Have a good schedule and make good $? What is the salary for a capitan at the Regionals? And how long until i am there?

Also i have a wife and a kid, my wife has a good job here in Los Angeles. Are the odds in my favor to get a job based here in LA?

This forum have been very helpful for me to make this decision, I really appreciate you mentors for answer all the questions, and Adam you been one of my big inspirations to do this, i know you start at 39 and i plan to start at 37, you are the proof that i am not too old and this is very possible!

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Thanks for your kind words. I often say I was very happy flying for a Regional and if that’s as far as I went I would’ve been fine with that, really. I flew for ExpressJet for 9 years and loved it and I have many friends who are still there and still do. We flew EVERYWHERE in the US, Mexico and Canada and it was an amazing experience. Money wise most Regional Capts max out in the high $80’s (which may or may not be decent money depending on your expectations and expenses). There are also other opportunities if you’re eager to make more. I was an instructor. Working in the training dept for most Regionals can get you over $100k if you’re so inclined? Upgrade times have been decreasing with the average being 3-4yrs these days which also isn’t bad. One of the biggest caveats when we talk about being a “career” Regional pilot is the volatility of the business. Regionals don’t sell their own tickets, they have contracts with the Majors they support and in the past if that Major found a better deal things could take a negative turn quickly. The good news is like the Majors there’s been a lot of consolidation amongst the Regionals (thinning the herd). More important the Majors have been acquiring interest in many of the Regionals which has stabilized things greatly. As for getting a job in LA ALL the Regionals are hiring like crazy so it’s simply a matter of finding one in the area and applying (https://pilotjobs.atpflightschool.com/airline-domiciles/). It shouldn’t be an issue if things continue as they are which they’re predicted to do.

The only other thing I’ll throw out there is while the Majors without question want/prefer degrees this industry is changing rapidly. While I like the fact you’re receptive and content with a career at a Regional, in 5-7 years as an RJ Capt you may feel different and the industry may be as well. I don’t want to give you false hope but you never know (as a matter of fact Atlas Airlines will hire pilots without degrees and they LOVE foreign born pilots if cargo flying interests you at all).