Degree/Time in service

Good afternoon - First and foremost, this tool is excellent for a someone like myself who is in the research phase, looking to potentially enroll - Thanks to all those willing to dedicate time and energy to responding -

A little about myself:

  • I’m a 32 year old, looking to realize my dream of flying professionally.

  • Bypassed a four year school out of high school, to enlist in the Armed Forces. I’ve completed some course work, but haven’t secured a 4 year undergraduate degree yet, due to trying to figure out/narrow down a realistic interest path.

  • Exited the military in 2012 and have spent the last 10 years trying to pursue a course in life that merely made sense - I’ve since restored a certain level of passion to my life, as one does when a chapter ends, and a new one begins.

As I’ve researched the topic of needing a 4 year degree to be desired applicant, tends to go back and forth on most online forums, so I figured I’d pose the question to the experts, and figure out a realistic path forward for myself.

I’ll put it plainly, am I wasting my time going through the ATP pipeline without a degree as a 32 year old with no prior flight experience/what would you do in my position, going forward.

Any and all responses welcomed, again, thanks for taking the time to respond -

David Hamilton


This question gets asked daily and there are literally dozens of threads on the subject. I’m not sure what other forums you’re in but on this one we don’t waiver. If you don’t have/obtain a 4yr degree you’re severely limiting your options for advancement. The Regionals don’t require a degree and you can have a nice 30yr career at one maxing out at about $100k. You might also be able to move up to an LCC (Spirit, Frontier, etc) which would get you closer to the $200k range. If however you aspire to fly a heavy around the world and earn the big bucks ($350k+) you’ll need that degree.

Whether or not it’s worth it is entirely up to you.


Perfect - Thanks for that, Adam -

Up to this point, I hadn’t created an APL/ATP account, which left me with the vast world of Google answers - In retrospect, this route was a better route to pose the question, and the turn around time was fast!

Got it, I’ll definitely keep this in mind moving forward -


Welcome to the forum. To answer a few questions here, no, you are not wasting your time to attend flight school without a degree, but your options will be far more limited.

I just had a jump seater on my flight who was an Allegiant Captain. While he had positive things to say about the airline, he was looking to make the jump to a legacy airline like Delta. He has thousands of hours of flight time, much of it in A320s. None of the legacy majors will touch him without a degree.

There is the option of getting hired at one of the American Airlines carriers and flowing through to AA, but that is limiting yourself only to AA.

Military experience is great, but it doe snot check the college degree box.

The good news is that while you are a regional pilot, you should have time to work on a degree online and many colleges give credits for military experience and flight training.


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Chris -

Thanks for your reply. That info sharing regarding the pilot with flight time/no degree was a great example of what it can look like on the other end of the pipeline without a degree -

I’ve come to the conclusion, that a degree path is inevitable, and I just need to be aware of the timing and execution -

Thanks again, and best regards moving forward on your journey -



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

Also, check out this link about earning college credit as a pilot: College Credit for Airline Career Pilot Students / ATP Flight School


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Got it! Thanks for that link, Chris -

I’m getting close to comfort level on the research phase, now onto taking a closer look into the financing side, and the exact pipeline I will take -

I’m weighing options between Flex/Fast - My initial instinct is that: in a career field such as this, it requires 100% commitment -
With that, I’m more prone to lean towards the fast track, and committing myself to the time and energy towards my next overall step -

I’ll be sure to loop everyone in on progress/actionable intel that could be useful for those inbound behind me -

Thanks again -


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