Finish 4 Year or Begin ATP ASAP?


As I dabble in the AirlinePilot.Life forums, talk to current pilots, and research on the Google, one question seems to remain between me and pulling the trigger on enrollment next year: Do I remain at my stable job and use the GI Bill to finish my bachelors degree or do I get into ATP ASAP?

My background: I am 23 years old working in the government sector and have just finished my associates. I am looking to escape the clutches of Uncle Sam and believe aviation might be just what I am looking for.

With the way my life is set up at the moment, I see two viable options…

  1. Remain in my current job for the next two years at minimum, leveraging the high payout of the GI Bill here in Hawaii to complete my 4 year and be more competitive when looking to move up to the majors in the future (all the while saving a bit of money to live off of while in ATP)


  1. Close out here in Hawaii by early next year, make the move to complete ATP, get a job with a Regional and finish the bachelors as I work my way up and put in hours.

From what I have gathered, time investment is crucial in the airline pilot world. Suggesting that if I can get my foot in the door earlier and still find the time while working to finish my 4 year before I am up for the Majors, I would be better off choosing option 2. Opinions? Is studying and working at a regional viable?

My buddy who flies for Hawaiian is of the opinion that a 2 year degree is fine for now and I should get into ATP as soon as I can due to the lucrative need for pilots now and in the assumed near future versus the uncertainty for how long it will remain that way. While I am taking his advice seriously, multiple sources typically increases confidence levels.

Your feedback is much appreciated!


I agree with your friend. You’re already out of school and sooner is always better.


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I think your buddy is right on the money. Time (seniority) is everything with the airlines and a few years can make an astronomical difference in a career. I would not delay one bit, but that is me.



If you can start training now, I would. The only reason I would delay is if you’re unable to secure financing.


Adam, Chris, and Tory, thank you for your input. It weighs heavily as I make my decision.