Path to becoming A Pilot

Hey, My name is Juan Alvarado and I am currently in Highschool. I was wondering where I should go from here. I was told that I College isn’t required to become a pilot and that you should just go to a pilot training program. If so what steps do I need to take starting from Highschool ? Also is there any schools in the us that you recommend ?

Hello Juan,

First that’s not exactly true regarding college. While you can get hired at a Regional without a degree, your career would basically come to a halt at that point since most Major airlines require a 4 year degree. At your age to restrict your career and earning potential wouldn’t be a very good idea.

That all said before you consider signing up with any training program I recommend you take an intro flight either at ATP if there’s one nearby or your local flight school. While the concept of flying may seem exciting you really won’t know until you actually try. As for schools I did my training with ATP and feel they’re the best route to a career in aviation. But even ATP won’t accept you as a student with no degree or your Private Pilot’s license.


I called the the atp office and they told me that the avitarion laws changed and that they dont need you to have 4 years of college or anything related to college. At least that’s what I was told. They told me that I could just go straight into training with a High School Diploma


If that’s the case they really need to change their documentation. See the following link and note "Admission Requirements"

Regardless of whether ATP has or hasn’t changed their requirements the Major airlines have not. It would be pretty sad being 25 at a Regional and watching all your friends move on to the Majors, making 2, 3 times what you’re making. If you truly want a career as a pilot you really shouldn’t want to limit yourself at such a young age.


Hello Juan.

We appreciate you looking into the program. As Adam mentioned that we require at least an Associates Degree to enter into our program. It is true that you can get into a regional airline without a college degree. However, the majority (if not all) of the major airlines still require that you have a college degree, preferably a bachelor’s degree.

Thanks again for looking into our program and we look forward to helping you when you meet our admissions requirements.


I think there might be some confusion here on two different points. To begin with, ATP requires their students to have either two years of college, two years of work experience, or a Private Pilot license. So the only way that you could enter ATP straight out of high school would be to have a Private Pilot license.

As to the degree for the airlines, there has never been a FAA requirement that pilots have college degrees, it is a requirement that most of the major airlines have chosen to implement. You do not need a degree to get hired by a regional airline, but you will absolutely need one to get hired at the majors.

If I were you I would absolutely plan on attending college and earning your four year degree. From there I would go to a fast paced aviation training program. I think that you might come to regret not going to college immediately after high school as it is often hard for students to get back in the habit of studying ansd taking classes if they take several years off first.


Thanks, so I would finish High School, get my associates degree, then what would I do after that ?


Then you need to pick a school and get trained. Earn all your licenses and ratings and then build time to the required 1500hrs minimum to be hired at a Regional.

Again though I would strongly suggest you go for a flight before you focus your time and money entertaining this as a career.


Yes, an associates degree will meet the minimum requirements for ATP and you can get hired at an airline with one. But, you will need an undergraduate degree to get hired on at the majors and trust me, you don’t want to limit yourself to the regionals. Not that they are a bad place to work, but the majors are where you will eventually want to be.

My name is Donovan and i’m 15 years old in the 9th grade, I live in Georgia just outside of Atlanta so there are about 2 ATP flight school locations in my area. To do a introductory flight you must be at least 18 years old. How can I do an introductory flight at my age and find out if this is really for me. Also can you suggest any colleges I should consider during high school for aviation. Thank you and If your a pilot reading this I think you are really really awesome. Thanks



ATP doesn’t offer Intro flight before 18 because you can’t enroll in the program before 18 (you also can’t get your Private license till 17) so there’s not much point. However most local flight schools will be happy to take your money so I recommend you find one in your area.

As for aviation colleges we’re ATP and really don’t recommend them. They tend to be expensive and there’s not much you can do with an aviation degree other than be a pilot and you always want options. Your best bet is to study hard, do well and get a degree in something OTHER than aviation as a backup since the airlines don’t really care what you study. After you graduate you can focus on flying.


Thanks Adam you’re amazing.

Sometimes :wink: