On the Possibility of Starting Flight School Before College

Hello all, I’m currently 18 and I’ve been thinking about becoming a pilot for a long time. But in the last year or so, I’ve become dead set on it. My goal is to work at a major, so I will need a degree.
I worked for a year on a farm in Germany when I was 17, and now I’m working as a Ramp Agent at a smaller international airport where I live. This has made me even more determined to become a pilot.

I would go to college first, but I live in the sticks and we have a tiny community college that doesn’t really offer programs I’m interested in. I was thinking perhaps I could get flight training done first, since I can get a loan and guaranteed job at ATP and later a likely job at a regional, and then I would have more funds to obtain a Bachelor’s degree at a more interesting school, and later, hopefully, fly for a major.

I’ve read on the ATP website that they require an Associate’s Degree for the Zero-time program, but I thought you guys might know if that is a strict rule, and more importantly, if the high school diploma I have gives me the knowledge I need to start flight training.

Thank you, and I look forward to your answers and insight.

The Mentors will be able to help further and I’m sure will be here soon but to your question on the Zero Time yes the mentors have answered in the past that the Associates Degree, or, 60 college credits, or equivalent work/military experience is a requirement as they want someone that can demonstrate the commitment/dedication/time management.

They also normally suggest someone your age goes through college first if your able to as your still in “school mode” and its easier to finish the degree if your already in school mode; also if I remember correctly you would have a restricted ATP until 23. With all that said it would be for you to decide after weighing your options on what the best path for you is.


You will need to meet the requirements listed on ATP’s website to enter the program, these are hard and fast rules for a variety of reasons.

I suggest that you go to the community college and just major in general studies. The basic requirements for a degree are the same for just about any type of degree.



As the others have said the 2yr degree, comparable work experience or your PPL are hard fast requirements. Know that ATP created these requirements because they found the vast majority of students who came straight from HS simply lacked the dedication and life experience to handle the program. To be frank even if you had your PPL I would still recommend you at least get your 2yr degree. At some point you’ll need it and there’s no better time than now to earn it.


Thank you all for your advice. I think I’ll start school this summer and get at least a two year degree.