Flight school vs college timeline


I’m Andy and I’m a high school sophomore. After reading some answers, I still have a few clarifications, sorry if this is repetitive

so if I go to ATP after 4 years in a regular college(like UT Austin), with no experience, and then after 9 months, I should be an instructor for ATP so that I can get my hours, and once I do, the next step is to apply for regionals or majors correct? There’s no more schooling, no more stuff I need to learn, I’m done with all certificates, tests, etc, I just need to apply for my dream job?

And let’s say I went to an aviation college like Embry riddle or Purdue instead. Do they teach you all the things you need to become an airline pilot or are they called “aviation colleges” just because they offer good aviation degrees? And let’s say they do teach you all the things you need to know to become an airline pilot, after the aviation colleges, I don’t have to go to another flight school because I already got my training in the aviation college, right? And the next step after the aviation college is applying for a job?
I’m sorry if this is confusing or if it was answered previously. Thank you!

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Hi Andy,

Let’s see if we can’t clear things up a little for you.

You’re correct on the first part for the most part. The only discrepancies are first, after you build your time instructing you’ll be applying to a Regional not a Major. Flying for a Major is the pinnacle of our industry and will only come after years of hard work and experience. Second you need to know the training and testing NEVER stops. Once you’re hired by an airline they’re going to need to teach you to fly the actual plane you’ll be flying. There’s yearly recurrent training, line checks, upgrade training to Capt and transition training when you change aircraft. It literally never ends.

As for degree programs many do actually include flight training but what licenses and ratings you earn can vary. If they don’t include everything you may need to go to a flight school to complete your training. If they do you’ll still need to find an instructor job (or other entry level flying position) and build the required time. For the record I’m generally not a huge fan of aviation degrees. They’re generally very expensive and time consuming. Most important the airlines neither require nor prefer aviation degrees, and should flying not work out for any reason, you really have no backup.

Hope this helps,



I’ve done lots of investigation into this over the years. Let me help you figure out what’s more beneficial to you. These are just my opinions and what you can find online.

FIRST and FOREMOST go take in INTRO Flight, anywhere. Go try it out and see if Flying is for you. Then…

We will use Embry Riddle and Purdue flight programs as your example.

Purdue has a multitude of different Degree Programs in Aviation but most that want a Flight Career chose their Professional Flight Degree program.

Around $50,000 just in total flight fees (Up to the Commercial Multi Engine rating) plus your tuition ($15,000 ish per semester) for the “Degree” part of it all. Flight fees include some pretty cool Simulator time in their A320 & B737 trainers.

Degree & Comm ME for around $170,000 after all fees and tuition

Embry Riddle I wont break down as much (Same basic thing) 4 year Aviation Degree with up to Commercial Multi Engine Rating. Possibly more but those are elective classes.

Flying about $70,000 + additional for CFI and on plus the degree tuition of $160,000 equals $230,000 for same ratings and equivalent degree.

UT Austin random 4 year degree (assuming your a Resident of Texas since you mentioned UT Austin) $6,000 per semester roughly $50,000 for your degree. (Maybe work with a local FBO or Flight school and get your Private Pilot license ahead of ATP, that’ll possibly save you some cash and time as well on the back end.)

ATP $90,000 for all ratings up to Commercial Multi Engine Instructor and most likely an Instructor job at the end to help build your hours required for ATP.

At $140,000 I’d say go UT then ATP route it’ll save you time and money I do believe.

ALL ABOVE college costs is just TUITION, does not include books, housing or fees*

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Adam and Darrell,

Thanks so much for your feedback. After reading your replies, I think going UT then ATP may be the better route, because it’s cheaper, and there’s a high change of becoming an instructor for ATP after the 9 months. Thanks again!

Andy Zhu

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