Tough Decision

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening! I’m having a hard problem choosing which path to take on pursuing a career in aviation. I’m 21 and I am currently serving in the Marine Corps. I have about a 1 1/2 years left of active duty service. Option 1 was to go to a college with an aviation program and obtain all my licenses and certifications like that. Schooling will be covered by my GI Bill which will leave me at little to no debt at all. I would graduate college with a bachelors in aviation and have a little bit of flight hours under my belt. I’ve been reading the forums on here and I understand individuals are not to limit themselves to one option and how superiority in the airlines plays a big factor. By the time I graduate college, I will be around 25 to 26 years old. Option 2 was continue online college and obtain a bachelors degree in criminal justice and pay for ATP out of pocket which will leave me going to fly for a regional airline with +$50,000 in debt while finishing up my bachelors degree but I will gain superiority being I started flying in the airlines quicker. Whatever advice there is to spread will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.


First and foremost it’s SENIORITY not superiority (although it may feel that way). Your choice as always but as you’re aware and said we’re not fans of aviation degrees in case the whole flying thing doesn’t work out. I completely understand the desire and the appeal of having zero debt but here’s my issue. Pilots have a limited amount of years they can fly. Top salaries are over $300k. What that means is EVERY year you delay not only do you sacrifice seniority you give up not only a year of that $300k salary down the line BUT YEARS of less 401K contributions with over a 40 year career would equate to many time more than that debt you’re trying to avoid.


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I was talking to a young veteran last night who goes to Embry-Riddle. While his academic fees are covered by the GI Bill, his flight training expenses are not. He still had to take a large loan out for flight training. Different schools MAY do it differently but before committing to a program, look into what is actually covered by the your benefits.