Real Answers from Real Pilots

College Degree with Cadet Programs

Hi guys, I have a quick question. Say I join the Envoy air cadet program without a college degree. I’ll have all my ratings and be 21, just without a degree. Do the Cadet programs need you to have a degree? I have read a ton on it through atp flight school, but can’t seem to find anything on it. There’s nothing that says you do need one. Just wanting to see what you guys think before I get $100,000 in debt at 18 years old… ahaha. Thanks

Adding to this: I am entirely fine with putting my whole career into one company knowing it limits my options. Felt I should add that in there.

Hi Evan!

You are correct, a degree is technically not a requirement in order to be eligible for the Envoy Cadet Program. I personally don’t like to see prospects put their entire career on the line by foregoing a degree. Just because these programs don’t require that you have a degree, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

I think it’s a good idea to earn your degree at some point. We’ve seen the most success when students finish their degree before flight training, but of course there are other ways to earn a degree and your ratings too. Another alternative is to complete your degree online while at a regional.

Education is never a bad thing. You never know when you might need to use your degree or what doors it may open for you if/when you need it to.

Tory

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Evan,

You say the above but do you really know and understand what that means? Last year Compass, one of Delta’s primary feeds went out of business for good. All their pilots were stuck scrambling for jobs and those in the Delta program were no longer in the Delta program. What if for whatever reason AA goes into a hiring freeze and simply doesn’t need pilots while everyone else does? I saw this at Continental Express years ago. Pilots with a flow agreement waited and waited for years for a flow that never came. Continental was bought by United, those pilots were stuck at ExpressJet until they folded last year too.

In this industry you NEVER want to limit your options.

Adam

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Evan,

You can flow to AA without a degree if you are part of one of their cadet programs.

I have to ask, why at such a young age are you willing to limit your options to just one carrier?

Chris

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Hey Chris. I really feel comfortable about limiting myself to one company because I would be highest on seniority with that company, and also I was really thinking that was the safest and most risk free way of getting into the airlines, but with what Adam said previously, I’m now second guessing myself.

Evan,

I’m not trying to dissuade. Envoy and AA are great airlines and if that’s where you aspire to be then there’s nothing wrong with working towards the goal. Again the point of not to limit your options.

Adam

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Evan,

You bring up a good point, if ypu got hired at Envoy at a very young age, and then flowed to AA at a young age, you would end up being rather senior at the airline. That is counting on a lot of pieces of the puzzle fitting exactly as they should, but if they did, it is a good plan.

Either way though, I would encourage you to complete a degree online once you are flying for the regionals.

Chris

Evan,
I think it’s incredibly short-sighted to put your entire career on one narrow track. Could your plan work? Yes it could but you are walking a very thin line. The flow could pause or stop entirely and you may never make it to American. With no degree you also would have no hope of going to any other major. Also, you should know that a career in aviation is riddled with highs and lows. The highs are amazing and the lows are LOW. Just take Covid for example, thousands of pilots were handled furlough notices in the span of a few short weeks. I know so many pilots that got furloughed during their career and ended up getting hired on by a different airline. That wouldn’t be an option for you because you would be reliant on only American and ONLY through the flow. Definitely not a risk I would want to take with nearly $100,000 debt. Just something to think about…
-Hannah