ATP is this a good plan for my future in aviation?

Hello I’ve always wanted to go to ATP and I will but there are so many ways I can plan my future with ATP and this is one of those plans and I just want to see if this is an advisable thing to do. so I would first work and go to a community college for 2 years then go to Atp flight school for the 9 month period and then flight instruct for 15 months and after that then i would get hired by a regional airline and finish my last 2 years for college while woking as a regional pilot. i was kinda thinking about it but i just wanted some insights on how it would work to be a pilot and go to college at the same time. Is it possible? Could I do it physically or would I have to do it online? Thank you


It would be very difficult (if not impossible) for you to go to college traditionally, particularly as a new FO with little control over your schedule. Online is definitely the way to go and the route most people take.

The thing to keep in mind is online university requires a fair amount of self discipline and some find it challenging when flying around the country having a grand ole time. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about who you are. If you think you’re up for it, great, and it’s def doable. If not perhaps think about doing all your schooling first then ATP after you graduate.



Before the lockdown, I would say that your plan is excellent. Many others have followed that path. Now, your plan might need to be slightly altered. It will depend on the state of things when you finish the program.

The first half of your plan is great. 2 yrs of CC, followed by flight school, I’m all for that approach.

When you finish the program, there may or may not be a surplus of flight instructors. If there is, you will have to compete for your CFI job or find an alternative way to build flight time.

Once you reach 1500, you may not get hired at a regional right away, you may need to continue flying in some other capacity until the hiring demand at the regional level picks up again. Airlines are uncertain about the 3rd and 4th quarter and 2021.

The good news is that you won’t be in a position to apply for a regional for at least 3.5-4 years from now. The optimistic side of me wants to say that the economy and health care system will have had enough time to recover by then, but we don’t know what we don’t know.

No matter what happens, if this is something that you really want to do, I wouldn’t delay your plan to become a pilot. You will be ready to go when the time is right. Your path just may not look like you mentioned. The middle of your plan could include any number of the options I’ve listed below.

CC > Flight School > CFI, Traffic Watch, Aerial Photography, Cargo or Corporate > Regional > Major

Completing college while working as a pilot is most often accomplished if the college is conducted online.



To add my voice here, I like your plan, it makes a lot of sense and is how many before you have done this. Just make sure that you have the discipline to return and finish your degree, often people can get side tracked along the way, but the majors will really want to see that four year degree.

You will need to complete your degree online while you fly for the regionals as it would be very difficult to maintain a schedule that would allow in person classes. The good news is that the airlines respect online degrees, as long as they are from a reputable college.


Thank you for your opinions on my thoughts. I’ve thought about it and I realized that it would not be advisable go to an online school and finish my 2 last years and work for a regional Airline at the same time due to me not being motivated enough. I would’ve thought to myself that it would be a waste of time cause I would already be a pilot and then decide to not complete my degree! so to be safe right after High School I’ll go straight to a community college get my 4 year bachelors degree and then go to ATP flight school and continue on from there. Again thank you all for your help. :slight_smile:

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


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Hi Chris,

Im currently a 17yr old in highschool graduating 2022 and hoping to become a pilot. Is a major airline pilot the main/safest option to become after flight training? what is the differences between working for a regional and a major airline such as things like hours, schedule, requirements, job opportunities, tuition costs, and salaries? Finally, if there are other good paying jobs as a pilot out there, what would you recommend?

thank you, Cristina

Hi Cristina,

I think it’s past Chris’ bedtime so I’ll jump in on this one.

As far as being “safest”, I’m not sure if you’re talking about safe career wise or actually safety or maybe both? As far as actually safety goes, all airlines (Major, Regional or LCC) are all subject to the same rules and regulations as dictated by the FAA and therefore all share a very high level of safety. Career wise, flying for a Major is the pinnacle of this profession and requires a tremendous amount of work and dedication to reach that level. For those fortunate enough to get there, flying for a Major is a very stable and “safe” job.

Regional airlines are just that. They fly regionally which generally means shorter distances and smaller aircraft. They don’t actually sell tickets and support their larger Major partners. After building your time this is an entry level airline and as such the pay is considerably less than the Majors.

Next comes National and LCC (low cost carriers). These are airlines like JetBlue, Spirit, and Allegiant. Bigger planes, some longer flights and more money.

Finally you have the Majors which generally means the big 3, American, Delta and United. Again this is the pinnacle of our profession. Heavy widebody aircraft flying worldwide (though all do domestic flights in smaller airplanes as well) and the top of the pay scale with senior Capts earning close to $400k.

Obviously the lower paying jobs are easier to get. Schedules are similar as again all airlines have to follow duty and rest rules. Training is the same for all. It’s a matter of building time and experience to climb the food chain.

There are many other flying opportunities (corporate, charter, cargo, scenic tours, etc etc). The salaries and schedules can vary greatly.

Others will chime in but I recommend you visit our FAQ section as it goes into more depth on many subjects as well as browsing the forum.

Hope that helps,



Good morning and welcome to the forum.

The major airlines are an absolutely great goal, but keep in mind that it will take several years to get to one. The majors fly their own people or packages, the regionals work for the majors, so there is inherent job stability at the majors. The majors typically offer much better pay and benefits than the regionals do. The regionals are of course easier to get hired at and are usually seen as the stepping stones to the majors, although some people do decide to make a career at the regionals. Schedule wise, the majors typically fly less flights per day, so the schedules tend to be better. In short, your goal should be to get to the majors.

Now this is not to say that the regionals are bad, far from it, there are many that are great places to work and there can be some really fun flying at those airlines.

As for tuition costs, the cost of flight training is just that, the cost of flight training. You need to get all of your ratings and licenses, then apply to the airlines. Check out this link as it really explains the steps to becoming a pilot: Pilot Career Guide / ATP Flight School


Thanks for replying!

I was thinking of becoming a flight attendant some time before beginning my career in piloting. I think it would be good to get used to the long hours and schedule of being in a plane. Although I am stuck on when I should take time to do this and for how long… and I could use some input. Should I take the time after getting my bachelor’s in college but before flight training or after…? Right now after reading the forums on here for a few hours my plan is to first do 4 years of college and go straight into flight training after that and so on.

Thank you, Cristina


I think these mentors will tell you the same thing, since you are young still, go to college and complete the four year degree. At that time you can look at flight training. If your ultimate goal is to sit in the pilot seat there isn’t a need to be a flight attendant. If you want it for the experience that is another thing. It sounds like you have a good plan with completing a degree first. Enjoy your college experience but keep your goal in focus.


We always recommend finishing school first for a number of reasons. You’re young and already in school mode. Some people find it challenging to return after they’ve started their professional lives. You may also find you have other interests or ambitions and flying really isn’t for you.

As for being a flight attendant is your goal is simply to get in the air and travel that’s a much easier route. Thing is their job is very different than ours and there’s really no need nor benefit to getting used to the long hours and schedule in that way. That said I do know many pilots who started as FAs. They saw the pilots sitting up front making considerably more than they were, doing considerably less manual labor and having a much better view and decided “I want to do that”.

Ultimately the choice is yours.



I would recommend finishing your bachelor’s degree, then focusing on your flight training. I would not spend any time being a flight attendant. They are very different jobs and being a FA will not do a thing to advance your pilot career.