Real Answers from Real Pilots

ICAO to FAA Conversion (No degree)

Hey there,

First post so be gentle!

37 year old U.S. Citizen, GCAA ATPL-A holder with 2300 hrs on A320, all with a major carrier in the Middle East. Awaiting to embark on my next adventure in Asia on B787 but considering taking up an ATP-CTP course to potentially return and fly in the states.

I don’t have a four-year degree, only an Associates Degree as I used to be a chef and had a career change at 30.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but could anyone please guide me as to what prospects I should expect coming out the other side with my experience and a shiny new FAA license?

Any chance at the majors without a degree? (Not attempting to curcumvent getting a degree or find a loop-hole, just getting a feel of what to expect realistically)

Thanks in advance,



While there’s always a chance, I don’t see that happening. First the Majors are clear, they want a 4yr degree. Second, while you’ve got Airbus time, 2300hrs is far from the competitive mins to get hired. Lastly, if it were me on your hiring board, honestly I’d look at your lack of degree and time away as someone who’s consistently looking for shortcuts, and that’s not who I’d want to hire.


Hey Adam,

That’s understood regarding the majors.

What more plausible career path should I expect if I were to consider moving back to the states with the afore-mentioned qualifications?

Thanks for your answer.

That’s easy. You need to check some boxes. Take your associates degree plus credit for your licenses and ratings and get your Bachelors in Aviation online in short order. Then pay your dues at a Regional or LCC until you’re competitive.


Much appreciated for your quick response and valuable input!


With your current experience and education, I think you will need to go to the regionals to build some US experience before going to the majors. You will also need to finish a four year degree.


Thank you Chris. It’s what I was expecting to hear to be honest.

Thanks for your time