I need help planning

I’m going to be a high school senior and just wanted to get a head start on my future. The plan I have so far is to graduate and wait a year of working to accumulate money before joining the ATP program. After I finish I would be old enough to go into a regional airline job as they don’t require a college degree. The next step would be to get into an online college while I work in the regional job to obtain a degree and then gradually build my way up from there.

Is there anything I should tweak or add to the plan that I missed out/forgot about?


As a rule we recommend college first. Should flying not work out either my choice or circumstance it’s good to have a backup and as you mention you’ll need a degree.

That said the choice is yours. Just know the program is very challenging and requires considerable dedication, focus and self-study. Just make certain you’re up to the task.

Btw, you don’t mention any flight experience? If you don’t have any I strongly recommend you take an intro flight or lesson before you do anything else.



I’d tweak your plan just slightly to complete at least the associates degree prior to starting ATP. That would check the box of some college experience for ATP admission requirements while also making considerable headway towards a bachelors. That way you only need to finish the last two years online while at the regionals.

I think this is a better plan because:

  1. You won’t save nearly enough money to truly pay for flight training in the one year working. A loan is inevitable, plus you can include living expenses in the cost.
  2. The college experience will better prepare you for the rigors of the program.
  3. The time spent at the regionals before getting hired by a major is dwindling by the day. A few years ago, at least 4 years at a regional would be average. Now, people are getting hired right after upgrading which is within 2 years. It would be frustrating to not have the degree finished in time when all your peers are getting hired.

Just some food for thought…



I would recommend at least two years of college first. This is nothing personal at all, but we have found time and again that two more years of schooling really helps with the maturity that is needed to be successful in the program. Also, ATP now requires either two years of school, or two years of full time work experience:

I think splitting a degree with two years before flight training, then getting to a regional and finishing then is a great plan and many successful people have done just that.