For just a brief background on myself: I am 23 and currently hold a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I have had a love for planes from a young age (I’m assuming like most people here) and have recently started thinking about making flying a reality…but I have NO clue where to start. I live close to 2 small airports and am about 15 miles from MSP in Minnesota. Since I really have no idea the paths you can take to become an airline pilot, are there any suggestions for where a person like myself could start? Also curious if there are other careers in aviation that I could explore. I would just love to be around planes! I’ll spend some time reading all the other posts as well…

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!


Welcome to the forums! You are already off to a great start by having a bachelor’s degree as the majors will all require one.

To get started I suggest that you go to your nearest flight school and take an introductory lesson. You might find that you actually dislike flying, or you might find that you really love it. Either way, you need to get behind the controls of an airplane. Just about any local flight school should be able to handle this.

Beyond that, keep doing exactly what you are doing. Take some time to read through the forums and ask us any questions that you can think of. We are here to help :slight_smile:


If I may add input here, I did my flight training at the lake elmo airport, about 20 miles from MSP. I loved it there. Valters Aviation is a family run FBO and flight school. They have great instructors. I would reccomend looking into them!

That is very close to where I live, thank you for the suggestion. Do you have any idea of what the cost is?
I’m also a little unclear of the typical path, if there is one. Is getting your private license the way to go? Or are there other trainings that are more suited for future airline pilots?

I know there are other topics on this but I will let the pros give you an answer.

Valters is self paced, if you have a free schedual it will end up cheaper. I spent $12,000 over 1.5-2 years but had some extra expenses towards the end due to many cancelled checkrides, (I had THE WORST luck) Most flight schools quote around $10,000.


Everybody that goes the civilian (non military) route gets a private license first. From there you will get an instrument license, which essentially is what allows you to fly in clouds. Then you will build time to 250 hours and train for your commercial license. The next step after commercial is your ATP, but you need 1,500 flight hours for that, so most people get their flight instructor certificate so that they can build flight time by teaching others and getting paid to do so.

I realize that this is probably as clear as mud, it can all be very confusing. Basically you will need every certificate that ATP offers in the Airline Career Pilot Program.


I have to tell you, that is a really long time to get a private license, it just shouldn’t be that long even at self paced. Training at a slow rate is inefficient as you constantly need to relearn what you forgot.

I had a very similar experience when I got my private license at a small school in Virginia, it was beyond frustrating.

I know it was too long. I started lessons in Minnesota in January, and Winter flying in MN is more or less canceling more flights than you get to fly, so real training started in the spring. I had my first checkride schedualed for the begining of febuary the year after but had 3 weather cancellations, followed by the check airman having a heart attack, another check airman having a family emergency, and then being on vacation for a month. I was also in high school/college working full time. So it was a 1.5 years time wise, but I was ready for the checkride in about 9 months. There were many factors working against me and I am happy to be done with it!

I bet you are happy to have that behind you. It was such a relief when I finished mine. Two years at that school was way too long for me.


There are dozens of jobs at the airport and working for an airline if you chose not to fly. There are gate agent and ramp positions, flight attendant positions, dispatcher the list is long. Also keep in mind the airlines are also just another large corporation. There’s everything from HR, marketing, training, regulatory etc. Additionally the govt is actively recruiting Air Traffic Controllers which is a fantastic career. It’s a govt job with great pay, a ton of benefits and THEY train you. Really comes down to what you think you’d enjoy?


Hey Jessica,
I’m hoping I can start the program soon and am wondering about how’s the schedule like, I’m hoping I’ll still have atleast some time for work. And I’m sorry your having so much trouble, I’m hoping I won’t run into so many issues starting up at the Hartford location.


ATP’s program is highly accelerated. They are able to do this by having the students 100% dedicated and focused on flight training. There is no way possible to work while in the program. If you attempt it, I guarantee you that your performance in the airplane will suffer.

I know that it is a tough financial hill to climb, but you really need to be able to focus solely on the flying.


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