I’m 17 and currently a junior in high school. My dream is to fly commercial airlines for a major company. I’m applying for a Delayed Entry Program this summer and enlisting into the Air Force next summer. I’m currently in the Civil Air Patrol and my rank within the program would enable me to become an E3 in the Air Force. I had originally planned on going into the Air Force as an officer but I didn’t want to serve the minimum of 7 years of service because I want to get started on my commercial flying career as soon as possible. I want to enlist into the Air Force for around 3 years because of all the benefits I would be receiving like the GI Bill. I would like to know if I need or should get a degree before attending flight school and if so should I use the GI Bill towards my college degree or flight training? I would also like to know what enlisted career in the Air Force would benefit me the most when transitioning from the military to becoming a commercial pilot. If I do have to attend college or you’d highly recommend I get a degree before flight training what would you recommend I major In to help me in the commercial airline business? I want to start my flying career as soon as possible after high school with the least amount of debt.
Thanks for your time and if you have any other advice I would love to hear it.
There is a lot going on here with your statements. To begin with, there is no quick, easy way to an airline pilot career and there really is not an inexpensive way either. You will need a degree for the major airlines. With that in mind, we usually recommend that future pilots complete their college education, then go to flight school. There is a maturity that is needed for flight training and college usually helps with that.
There really is no career as an enlisted Air Force member that will benefit you as a pilot. Besides actually flying, all other jobs do not really add much on your path to being a pilot. I would encourage you to look through the FAQ section as there is some very good information there. Also, do not look for the easiest or cheapest path, but instead look for the best path.
As someone who was you a few years ago, and did end up enlisting, consider looking into the air national guard for your state. It may allow you the best options including free in-state tuition. Not every state offers this but look into it. You can do your enlistment while going to college and using the benefits. This is what I did and it saved me A TON in college costs.
As far as enlisted careers, the only thing that would really work is either a Boom Operator or a load master. I’m in maintenance and specialize in the fuel systems on a tanker aircraft. I would steer you away from AC maintenance unless you really want to do that. However, the issue here is that Boomers and Load Masters tend to be away from home a bit more and could make college difficult.
It’s not the fastest but does remove a lot of costs that can be associated with the process. Do you’re research and make sure it is something you want to commit to. Also, CAP make transitioning to the Air Force super easy (in my past real world experience). Another thing to consider is that some jobs get a bonus which can be used for flight costs or college costs as you see if… don’t go blow it like most people.
Let me know if you have more questions, I personally have not been through ATP yet so I can’t comment on that process. Next year hopefully…
Your statement is sort of conflicted. While I appreciate your desire and need to save money, joining the military, other than providing you with the finances for school, will only delay your career.
As Chris said we always recommend college first. You could do community to save money but the sooner you start training and actually flying the sooner you’ll be at an airline.
Take a look at our FAQ section for the various routes we recommend.
I can’t remember if I already posted this or not, but another option would be to earn your ratings first and then instruct at a university 141 program. As an employee of the college, you would be getting paid well with benefits and receive free or extremely discounted tuition towards a degree. I’m seeing more and more colleges across the country either ramping up their existing flight schools or adding new ones altogether.