Real Answers from Real Pilots

Is A Bachelor's Degree Mandatory?

Greetings, I am currently transitioning out of the military and I am interested in leaning more about becoming a commercial pilot. For more clarity, is a bachelor’s degree mandatory to become a pilot?

Hey Bo,

The FAQ section is a really helpful resource that can answer this question, as well as probably a lot of other questions you may have! :grin:

The main excerpt you need is as follows:


The answer to this is both yes and no.

No. To be hired at a regional airline there is no requirement for a college degree, in fact the regionals very frequently hire pilots without degrees. The regional airlines are hurting a bit for pilots and are mostly concerned with a pilot having their 1,500 hours, having a good track record with the FAA, a good driving record, no criminal history and the pilot being a good guy or gal to work with.

Maybe. Many of the National, lower cost airlines, such as Spirit, Sun Country, Frontier, etc prefer a degree, but do not require one.

Yes. The major airlines absolutely require a bachelor’s degree, in any field, from a reputable university or college. When choosing a degree major, choose something that you not only enjoy, but also think you could fall back on if necessary. Now let’s talk about the reality of when an airline states that a degree is “preferred” vs “required.”


At the Major level (AA, Delta, UA, FEDEX, UPS, etc) it will often be preferred but not “required”.
When you look at the pilot corps though 99% have a 4yr degree, so to get hired without one, you pretty much need to be that 1% of your generation.
They keep that vagueness in there so when the one-off case comes along that they want to ignore it (hiring a VP’s kid, etc) they don’t have to actually “break” a rule.

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Thank you for the feedback. The both of you gentlemen answered my question. Flying at the regional level without a bachelor’s degree is possible, but the major airlines prefer a candidate with those credentials. Big standards for big pay.

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