How do I become a pilot? What’s the process?

Hi there, I’m 16 years old and still in high school, but I’ve been exploring the idea of becoming a pilot and I was wondering what the process looks like. I’ve read that I should go to college before flight school, but is there anything I can do in the meantime to make sure flying is what I really want to do? Also I was considering going into the military, is the process for becoming a pilot different if I do that? Thank you!


At 16 the best thing you can do is do well in HS so you can go to a good college and finish your education. What I would recommend at some point is for you to take an intro flight or lesson to see if flying is something you really want to do and enjoy vs something you think you want to do.

As for the military that’s definitely a possible. To get a flying slot you do need to be an officer and that also means college first. That said while it’s very admiration, military service is a HUGE commitment. If you’re desire is to serve your country it’s definitely worth investigating but if you simply want to fly, every military pilot I know will tell you that’s not the reason to serve and there are far easier and faster routes.


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Welcome! At your age, just enjoy high school, make good grades and fly for fun. Your high school GPA will be one of many things being reviewed for future interviews. So think of it as building a good foundation for your future applications. Take some intro lessons and talk to pilots you may know.

You’re really in the researching stage. Once you graduate high school, you can make a more concrete plan. Typically we recommend at least some college, two years minimum, and then an accelerated program like ATP with the plan on finishing the degree while flying for the regionals. Or the full four years securing a bachelors and then pursue flight training.


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Adam wrote a great post on this topic a bit ago. Check it out here: How do I become an Airline Pilot?


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Thank you all for the wonderful answers! I’m gonna try to keep my GPA high and then go from there. :slight_smile: