A Potential But Promising Career


My name is Navin (pronounced like Gavin but with an ‘N’), and I would like to be a commercial pilot. I have some questions I would like to ask, and any clarification that can be given would be greatly appreciated!

Firstly, aviation does not run in my family. At all. I would be the first and only pilot in my family, anywhere in my lineage. With that being said, this fact has created some doubts in my mind as to whether or not I can actually do it. This has been my dream ever since I was a kid. It all started when I went into the cockpit of a Caribbean Airlines Boeing 737-8 (prior to 9/11). Though I was quite young, I can remember seeing the control panels, the pilots, and the most beautiful view from the cockpit. I also received a replica of the Captain’s Commercial Pilot Wings (which I believe I still have… somewhere). Ever since then, I have wanted that cockpit view to be my “office” seat. I also did not come from money, and nor is it my main incentive. I would be financing flight school with no help, besides loans and a co-signer. I truly believe that being a pilot is the only career I would thoroughly enjoy.

I am 25 years old (I will be 26 in September) and in college pursuing a degree in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation. I am currently getting my prerequisites done at one college before transferring to another to get my bachelor’s. This is the cheaper, and some may say better, route, for me. Once I have transferred, I will have approximately 4-5 semesters (approximately 2 years) left before I graduate.

My question is this: due to the current pilot shortage and some airlines having dropped their four-year degree requirement (Delta, for instance), would it be wiser to not finish this degree and instead work at my current job for two years to get my finances sorted? I am not in a position right now where I would be approved for the massive loan required for flight school, so I will be attending flight school in at least 2 years. My options are to either spend 2 years finishing my degree, while working to pay off debts, or work more and pay off my debts faster while not pursuing a degree, taking advantage of this opportunity of the degree requirement being dropped.

I mention Delta because that it the airline I would love to fly for (if I stay in the US). I am aware that you most likely will not go into the majors, let alone the legacy airlines, straight out of flight school. I am okay with working for Endeavor (if hired), or another regional carrier for x amount of years, amassing the required hours for the majors. I am also aware that not many pilots switch airlines once they have a job with one. I have many decisions to make, and much more research to do.

As an aside, I watch a live stream on YouTube from an account called L.A Flights, where they live stream the action at LAX. Without going off on too much a tangent, the Captain of a Lufthansa 747-8 was on the stream one day and participated in a Q&A session with the viewers. I asked if he had any advice for an aspiring pilot trying to get in to the industry, and my question was posted on air, to which Captain Kim responded. His advice was to be persistent, follow your dreams, and build a network - talk to as many pilots as you can.

That is why I am here. Because of Captain Kim’s advice. I knew all along that I wanted to be a pilot. I went to business school to please my family, and ended up dropping out. Now I am pursuing another degree, but my fate may be the same. I wish I was more persistent and believed in myself more when I was younger. Either way, I have much of a future ahead of me even if I do make it in the aviation industry.

Sorry for any extraneous ramble, but I felt it necessary to give a bit of detail. My question is ultimately do you as pilots foresee this shortage persisting, and if so, do you foresee more airlines dropping the degree requirement? Would you recommend just getting a degree as a safety, something to set you aside from the others? Or would you say it is time to capitalize on this opportunity?

Thank you to any and every one who reads this, and a special thank you to anyone who comments.

Oh! If anyone has any reviews of the ATP Flight School in Daytona Beach, FL, that would be greatly appreciated! I currently live in FL and hope to attend that ATP school.



  1. the shortage is forecast to continue at least through 2030 BUT no one has crystal balls and things can and do happen. 9/11, COVID-19, another major recession, things like this can seriously throw a wrench in the works. Thing is there’s only been a pilot shortage for the last few years and pilots have been getting hired for decade. While the shortage has made the process easier, it really shouldn’t weigh into your decision if you really want to be a pilot.

  2. While Delta made a big deal about dropping their degree requirement, the reality is a) no Major airline in the US requires a degree, but b) they ALL desire one and list it as a “preferred” or “competitive” minimum. This is why they ALL still ask and why those with a degree will get hired first.

  3. Absolutely. As I said, if you want to fly for a Major like Delta your odds of success will go up exponentially if you have a 4yr degree. Second its always a good idea to have a backup should flying not work out by choice or circumstance.

Btw, you mention you “most likely will not go into the majors, let alone the legacy airlines, straight out of flight school”. There is no most likely. You will not be going to a Legacy (or any airline) right after flight school. You’ll need to build the required 1500hrs before you can fly for any US airline.


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Thank you, Adam, for your response.

Thanks for the clarification on the current shortage; I will try not to focus on that as much. I really do want to become a pilot but figured this shortage has made the process easier, and I was not sure if I should chase this window of opportunity. I just want to learn how to fly as soon as possible to build up seniority.

I figured all major airlines would still require a 4 year degree. Thanks for answering that. I will continue to pursue my degree in that case, and wait to attend flight school. I know it will be experience lost since the aviation industry stresses the seniority principle, but it does not sound like there is any way of skirting around it. Calculus, here I come (for the second time)!

From one New Yorker to the next, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.


Adam did a great job answering your questions, so I will just add a few things.

I come from an airline background, do you know how much good that did me in training? Almost none. The point is that family background or not, we all go through the same training and have to meet the same standards. There is no aviation gene that gets passed down from one generation to the next, it is just that some of us see what are parents do and it seems appealing to us. Your ability to be a pilot or not has nothing to do with your family and everything to do with you.


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Thanks for your response, Chris.

I appreciate your words, and definitely needed to hear that, so thank you very much. :slight_smile:

Anytime. Please let us know how else we can help you.