Bachelors degree or ATP? Pay?

Hey, I’m currently a sophomore at Kalamazoo Valley Community College with plans to transfer to Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation. WMU has a great aviation program, however, with the classes I’ve taken so far I have another three years before I graduate. That’s assuming I get accepted into the college of aviation next semester. I just want advice on what you would do personally, take the time and graduate or pursue certifications through ATP and fly commercially in half the time? I get that majors heavily favor applicants with a degree but how severely does this impact income outlooks? I don’t want to spend all of this money to make less than 100k a year. I am passionate about aviation, but let’s be honest, it’s still a job and I would like to make a decent amount of money in my lifetime. With that, what does pay actually look like? I have seen so many different numbers from 30k a year all the way up to 500k. I’m not in this to be rich but I want an understanding of what to expect.


I vote for doing both. Finish your second year of college then do your training with ATP. While you’re at a Regional building time you can complete your BS in Aviation online with credit for your 2yrs and credit for your licenses and rating in very short time for min cost. You’ll have your 4yr degree AND already be building time and experience for a Major. Easy peasy!



Having that second year of study under your belt will put you ahead and on course to getting your Bachelor’s Degree during your time as an instructor/Regional Airline. The top money that you could make at a Major (Company XYZ) to a Regional (Company ABC) is a difference, even at a First Officer level during Year 2 is exponential.

It’s not unknown how much pilots make, but compare the rate of hour a top captain at a Regional is making compared to a Major, that degree could change the way of life: