College needs

I’m Hannah and I am currently a first year in college for engineering. I have realized that engineering is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have been researching becoming a pilot and I have seen that it is important to have a college degree. Would I need to finish 4 years of college before starting any flight programs? I am generally just wondering what my next steps would be to become a pilot. Also I am 18 years old.


First and foremost I recommend you visit our FAQ section as well as ATPs website ( In there you’ll find the answers to many common questions as well as some common pathways.

As a rule we generally recommend finishing college first. This gets any educational requirements out of the way and also provides a backup should aviation not work out for any reason. While nothing precludes you from starting your flight training while in school, training part time or in weekends is incredibly inefficient and will inevitably cost you fast more in the long run. That said you obviously can do as you like.

Btw, you don’t mention any flight time? While many people believe they’d like to fly, until you sit up front in a training aircraft you won’t know for certain. Sitting on the back of a Boeing going on vacation is a very different experience. If in fact you’ve never been up I strongly suggest you take an intro flight or lesson and see if this is in fact something you’d like to pursue.


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The regionals do not require a college degree, the legacy major airlines do. You could start flight school at anytime and finish your degree later, although we generally recommend finishing college first as it is simply easier to stay in school mode and far more difficult to return to college once you are in the workforce.


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Thank you! so I should get a degree, and then I would do flight school at ATP. Would that provide all the training and schooling to eventually pilot for a legacy airline?

Thank you that’s really helpful! I will certainly get some flight time before I decide being a pilot is what I want to persue.


Eventually…yes, but after flight school you would need to build flight time towards regional airline eligibility. Then you would need to build about 5 years experience at a regional to be a competitive candidate for a legacy.

So eventually, yes, but there are several years of experience required after flight training.