What do I need to become a pilot?

Hello Pilots!
My name is Natalie and im currently 15 years old. My goal is to one day become a pilot, but i really dont know how to get to my goal the best way. Advice on which shools to go to and what I can do now to become a pilot would be much appreciated.

                      Thank You!!!


At 14 the best thing you can do is study hard, do well in school so you can get into a good college. Airlines want to see a solid education on a resume. After you graduate you can then start your flight training.


I don’t mean to bother you guys, but I am a current high school junior looking into my college options to best prepare me to become a pilot. I am taking 4 AP classes this year and plan on taking an additional 3 next year. To be honest, I have been looking at Purdue and other university flight schools, which lead me to a few thoughts. First, there really wouldn’t be any way I could go to one of these schools without massive scholarships that I hopefully could get alongside financial aid, since my family is quite lower-middle class. So another option would be goto school anywhere else and do ATP afterwards. I could then get any degree as a backup. Only downside with that is I cannot get financial aid/scholarships for the ATP tuition. So I guess what I want to ask is do airlines care about names when it comes to hiring? For example if there are two identical candidates (hours wise) but one has a degree from Harvard and the other from U Mass Boston (I’m from MA, obviously) does the Harvard degree help, at least in your respective airlines? Also, in your experience, what is the makeup of your coworkers in terms of where they got their flight training? My dream is to become an airline pilot one day, and I want to make smarter, educated financial decisions, so I really appreciate our help!

P.s What I really like about this forum is the fact that while you obviously are ATP advocates, I don’t feel like I’m going through a sales pitch every time I see responses. I love this forum because of that.


First I want to thank you, I’m always a little concerned we’re coming off like salesman, which we honestly are not.

On to your question. The Majors want a degree and they want it from a reputable school. Now I’m not going to lie, would someone who’s going through resumes say “hmmmm” and be mite impressed if yours said Harvard? They probably would, but that’s generally not how these things work. When you apply your application will need to meet the requirements and if so it’ll get screened. The main thing they’re looking for is your flying experience as that will trump all else. What I’m saying is if all things were equal would the Harvard degree maybe help get you in IF there were a single slot? Maybe but first there isn’t a single slot there’s many and again experience out weighs everything. Going side by side, you go to Purdue, get a 4yr degree in aviation and then you still need to build your flight time so you’re talking 6yrs to a Regional. If I go to a local school, then ATP I’m also at 6 yrs BUT I’ve saved a ton of money and have more multi time. 6 yrs later we’ll both be applying for a Major with the same quals and we’ll both get hired. Might someone like your Purdue? Maybe but there’s an equal chance they’ll be an Indiana fan. Save your money.


Thanks! I love getting to hear perspective from current pilots like this. And no need to thank me, thank you for not being overtly biased like other forums out there!

My question is: in addition to a commercial flight license from a flight school, do you HAVE to have a college degree, and if so, what sort of classes do you need to take? I am 14 and I would like to be a pilot, but I am not so sure what I need to do to get the job. Also, do you need an ATP certification to be hired? Or just the license?

Furthermore, is it worth getting a private flight license before going to commercial flight school to get the discount, or would it be better/less expensive to just get it during commercial training?


Please consult the frequently asked questions section for the answer you are looking for.

I am not sure what you mean by ATP certification versus license. To be hired at a regional airline, you need a commercial pilot’s license and 1,500 flight hours. The airline will help you get your actual ATP license.


We find that students actually do better and in fact save money by waiting to get their private license until they begin their full pilot training cycle.

Hi my name is Kevin.
Thank you Chris for your message.
My dream as a little boy growing up was to be a pilot. Everything I had and did was about planes.
Unfortuanitly by 12 I made some mistakes that carried into my adult life and soon my dream became impossible. Well many years later I found my mistakes were a blessing cause I was able to help teens and adult men not make the mistakes I made. Theres a reason for everything, we just don’t get to know. Ive got to help a lot of people. I believe it was my per pose in life.
That purpose drove me to continue to help others and in doing so I met a man whom keeps his airplanes at his house and that neighborhood has run ways. He had 7 planes in daytona beach and 8 yachts in Fort Lauderdale. I lived in Lauderdale, but I grew up in the daytona beach area. I had my own business detailing when I wasn’t working at the treatment center and he asked me to fly back to daytona with him one day. Im from there my family is there so yeah absolutely . He knew my dream growing up was to fly so he asked me mid flight if I was ready to fly.
I took the controls and felt I had full control of the aircraft and looked out the window and started to cry. “I’m flying, im really flying, I’m doing it”
DREAMS DO COME TRUE!!! . God don’t know what the word impossible means. I now firmly believe anything is possible. Over the year of working with him I got to fly many many times. All 7 planes i got to fly. I learned to land first and then perfected taking off The aircraft I first learned to fly was much simpler to fly it was a Sesna 2012 Columbia 350. Very technically advanced.
I’ve got more than 30 hrs flying in it, but never logged then so it probebley won’t count, but anythings poss right. Lol
I also learned how to fly a 1975 Sesna. A Citation 1000 jet. Still have much to learn about it.
So I said all that to say this. I am a convicted felon over 10 years ago and I want to become a pilot. I love to fly. I even traveled the U.S a lot and love flying commercial airlines. I just am and have always been obsessed with flying.
Chris be honest I can handle it. What are my chances to become a pilot at 43 years old after all in my story.
I really really want to be a pilot.
Dreams do come true I have proof.
But I want more I want to pursue this, but don’t know where to begin.
Thank you for allowing me to write my story. I apologize to all of the length. I fell I needed to share it, maybe it’ll help someone. That’s what I do. Thats what I’m good at.
I can fly to. Lol


A mistake or 2 when we’re young can be excused but based on your post it sounds like you’ve been in trouble for most of your life. The simple fact is airlines have a problem with a single offense. Decades of bad behavior can and will not be overlooked and I don’t believe you have a chance.



It really depends on the nature and severity of your crimes. Neither the airlines or the FAA are fans of criminal records, so you might have a difficult time. Again, it really depends on what you were charged with and convicted of.