Career plan seems to good to be true?

I made the decision that I wanted to be an airline pilot a few months ago when talking to my brother (pilot in the army) and doing some research. I’m 17 years old going in to my senior year of high school and have been constructing a plan for my training after I’m done with high school. My plan is as follows.

  1. Graduate high school
  2. Go through ATP’s program
  3. Become a flight instructor at ATP
  4. While instructing, obtain my BA online (I figure this because on the ATP website it says CFI’s only work 25 hrs per week so online school shouldn’t be too much of a hassle)
  5. After 4 years of online school and instructing, I’ll have the hours built up to become an airline pilot.

I was going over this plan and it seems almost too simple or as if there’s some sort of a catch. Any advice, comments, or tweeking to my plan would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want to commit to something too expensive and time consuming without some advice. Thanks!


The first problem is ATP requires either a 2yr degree (or equivalent work experience) or your Private Pilot license to enroll and you have none of those. Second we always encourage people to continue their educations (at least to the 2yr mark) in order to mature and gain some life experience. ATP did not always have this requirement but found that people that enrolled directly after high school simply didn’t have the work ethic or focus to be successful and ultimately failed. The fact that you missed this on the website tells me you really haven’t invested that much time or energy into the research (I’m also not sure where you got that ATPs instructors only work 25hrs a week? They may only FLY that much but they have many other duties and responsibilities). Next it should only take you about 2yrs to build the time to fly for a Regional but you do have to be 21. Flight training isn’t cheap and requires ALOT of hard work. I recommend you spend some time in our FAQ section as well as on ATPs website.

You also do not mention if you have any flight experience so I’ll assume you don’t? If that’s the case you really need to take an intro flight at the very least (ATP requires that as well). While many people believe they want to be pilots until you actually start flying you really don’t know.

You may disagree but regardless without one of the 3 above you will not be able to enroll.



There are some issues with your plan, let’s take it point by point.

  1. Good idea.

  2. You will be unable to enroll in ATP until you meet their criteria of: 1) two years of college, 2) two years of work experience, or 3) a private pilot license.

  3. Once eligible, great idea.

  4. Negative. ATP instructors might fly around 25 hours per week, but they work much more than that. It is a full time job that really does not allow much extra time for studying. You will have far more time available to you as a regional pilot than you will as an instructor.

  5. It should only take two years to build the flight time needed to be a regional pilot.

Take a look at the FAQ section as there is a lot of good information there that will help set you on the right path.



Your plan should look more like this:

  1. Graduate high school

  2. 4 year college degree

  3. Attend ATP

  4. Instruct

  5. Get hired by regional

Or this:

  1. Graduate high school

  2. 2 years college or equivalent work exp.

  3. Attend ATP

  4. Instruct

  5. Get hired by regional and finish degree

Or something close to either of those. Bottom line is that you won’t be manage online classes while teaching. Sure. 25 hours a week, but that’s flight time only. You haven’t considered any of the other time for ground and sim. I easily put in 50-60 hours a week when I was teaching.

Also, you won’t be able to enroll in ATP’s program immediately after high school. ATP requires at least 2 years of college experience or equivalent work experience.