Real Answers from Real Pilots

What path should I choose to become an airline pilot?

Hey everyone, my name is Gabby and I’m 16 years old. My whole life I never really knew exactly what it was I wanted to do for a career. One day I was reading a book that was talking about pilots and flying and all that jazz, and the idea of being up in the sky would NOT leave my mind. I started researching how to become a pilot and what the life of one entailed, and ever since I’ve been hooked.

I’ve attended meetings at local airports and “put my foot in the door” of the aviation community, so to speak. My question to you guys is, when starting training as a pilot(with the major US carriers as a goal), is it smarter to get a degree in a non-aviation related subject and attend a flight school like ATP or PEA afterwards… or go to a school such as UND or WMU and get a 4 year degree while getting my licenses and ratings?

I know there’s a huge cost difference between the two, but do airlines REALLY not care about where you went to school and what you majored in?

Thanks a ton!!


Airlines really do not care what your degree is in. My degree is in business administration, I have known people to have degrees in history, English, finance, piano composition, etc. Just get a degree from an accredited school and you will be fine.


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okay thank you so much for the advice!!


I am 17 and currently in the process of applying to colleges going into my senior year of high school. I am looking at schools that have majors to become a commercial pilot. I was thinking of trying to get my PPL at a local airport before I go to college however, so that the flight labs wouldn’t be quite as expensive.

So my question would be for the mentors, do you think it would be better for me to go through college majoring in professional flight and doing my flight training through that program, or to go to college and major in something like business and do my flight training on the side at a local airport?

Like, which way would be smarter with my goal of becoming an airline pilot? Both cost-wise and with trying to get to an airline as soon as I could after all my training.

Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you,


I’ve never been a fan of aviation degrees simply because you’re putting all you eggs in one basket. Unlike many other professions the airlines don’t require a degree in the field, they just want a degree. That and of course aviation degrees with flight training can be ridiculously expensive.

I’m also not a fan of piecing together your own flight training at a local school. If you notice both the military and the airlines do their training every day. The reason for that is because pilot skills are cumulative as each skill builds on the last. Without consistent training there’s a tendency to take 2 steps forward but one back. That’s why I’m on this forum as an advocate for ATP and their type of training. While you wouldn’t be able to train while you’re in school I believe you’d save a lot of time and money by diving in full time after you earn your degree.


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