Becoming an Airline Pilot without a College Degree

gliderpilot3

Well-Known Member
I have looked at other threads similar to what I am asking in this but it is hard to get a definitive answer from most. I am currently enrolled in a 4 year university for a BS in political science and I am looking at just making it by with college tuition. I have always have had a passion for aviation and there is no doubt that it is the career for me. I am only going to college with the intent to check the box for "has a college degree" when it comes time for resumes and job applications. The problem I face is going to school for a degree I will never use and frankly do not enjoy learning. The two thoughts I have are one transfer to an aviation college. And two, which is why I am here to see if its even possible...

What I am here to really ask is it not only possible but likely to happen for a person without a college degree to get employed and fly for a regional such as Envoy then use their guaranteed interview with American to land a job with a major later on? All without having a college degree.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
You can certainly become an airline pilot without a degree.

Whether or not the airline that will hire you without a college degree is worth making a career out of is highly debatable.

Stick it out, finish the degree and the aviation world is your oyster.
 

skypilot6

Well-Known Member
Its certainly possible, in today's hiring market you wont get far into the airline ranks without it.

Its best to stick it out and get the 4yr. Many people (myself included) didn't start with a degree and are now trying to play catch up.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
And don't listen to flight school salesmen or certain regional recruiters.

So many people I know went for the "Oh, hurry up, get your ratings and come work for us while finishing your degree online!" that, almost a decade later are bitching at me about why my airline won't hire them without a degree even though "I'm already flying your airlines passengers, how is this fair?"

If I had a dime...
 

Cessnaflyer

Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
Take it from someone with only a high school diploma and 'some college', (few classes short of a BA) just get it done. Life has worked out really well for me in other cockpits but getting past the regionals is difficult.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Something too is that when you're young, four years feels like an eternity. But when you look back in your 30's and 40's, you're going to realize that "damn, four years is like a long weekend and I could have cranked that degree out and wouldn't have to worry about it."

*cough* @DPApilot *cough*
 

jtrain609

Anarcho-Bidenist
I have looked at other threads similar to what I am asking in this but it is hard to get a definitive answer from most. I am currently enrolled in a 4 year university for a BS in political science and I am looking at just making it by with college tuition. I have always have had a passion for aviation and there is no doubt that it is the career for me. I am only going to college with the intent to check the box for "has a college degree" when it comes time for resumes and job applications. The problem I face is going to school for a degree I will never use and frankly do not enjoy learning. The two thoughts I have are one transfer to an aviation college. And two, which is why I am here to see if its even possible...

What I am here to really ask is it not only possible but likely to happen for a person without a college degree to get employed and fly for a regional such as Envoy then use their guaranteed interview with American to land a job with a major later on? All without having a college degree.
If you think that you'll be an outlier, getting hired at a career airline without an undergraduate degree, do yourself and take a stats class before you drop out of college.

At least then you'll understand why your chances of success are low without an undergraduate degree.
 

Kingairer

'Tiger Team' Member
Don't you have to be 23 anyways now? Wouldn't do any good to drop out if your say, 19, and then sit on your hands for 4 years. If you are 30, have some flight time and don't want to get a degree, then you could go somewhere that has a non-interview flow through agreement.
 

z987k

Well-Known Member
Don't you have to be 23 anyways now? Wouldn't do any good to drop out if your say, 19, and then sit on your hands for 4 years. If you are 30, have some flight time and don't want to get a degree, then you could go somewhere that has a non-interview flow through agreement.
18 to have a commercial and work most 91 and a lot of 135.
 

Finny

Well-Known Member
Speaking as a 29 year old old who works for a regional, finish your degree now when it is easy. You do not want to be doing online classes, while going through upgrade, while commuting for the first time, and trying to prepare your house because your first kid is on the way. Ask me how I know...

Just. Finish. College. Meow. Period.
 

word302

Well-Known Member
Don't you have to be 23 anyways now? Wouldn't do any good to drop out if your say, 19, and then sit on your hands for 4 years. If you are 30, have some flight time and don't want to get a degree, then you could go somewhere that has a non-interview flow through agreement.
21 for the RATP.
 

chrisreedrules

Master Blaster
I’m all for college as long as you don’t incur a massive amount of debt. I’m not convinced that a 4 year degree (or lack thereof) will be a show-stopper in the coming decade. There are massive retirements coming and not really enough pilots in the pipeline to fill all of the jobs.

A degree can be very important though. It just depends on what you want to do with it. I’m going to try and avoid the age old mike Rowe argument of degree vs no degree etc... But for what it’s worth I think a person's individual success is determined by who they are on the inside and what type of drive they possess to succeed. What type of drive they possess to work hard and better themselves. A lot of people lack that inherent drive and a degree does not make up for that.
 

Kingairer

'Tiger Team' Member
Until, of course, the flow agreement ceases to exist.
Gamble for sure. But if you are looking at passing up 4 years of seniority at an airline, that's a gamble as well. I'm not suggesting this route, but it is out there now as regional airlines have become desperate to fill the seats.
 

JDean3204

Well-Known Member
I’m all for college as long as you don’t incur a massive amount of debt. I’m not convinced that a 4 year degree (or lack thereof) will be a show-stopper in the coming decade. There are massive retirements coming and not really enough pilots in the pipeline to fill all of the jobs.

A degree can be very important though. It just depends on what you want to do with it. I’m going to try and avoid the age old mike Rowe argument of degree vs no degree etc... But for what it’s worth I think a person's individual success is determined by who they are on the inside and what type of drive they possess to succeed. What type of drive they possess to work hard and better themselves. A lot of people lack that inherent drive and a degree does not make up for that.
This is something I struggle with comprehending about the industry. Does getting a four year degree show that one has the drive to finish a goal? Absolutely, but so does a five year enlistment then a two year degree that accompanied all of my ratings. Going into further debt for a simple check in the box is hard to talk myself into, although at the end of the day I know it is a necessary step that will hopefully one day pay off.

I know that I will be taking my time at getting it, because commuting while working 4-5 on and 2 off is already a hit on qol. So online classes it will be, while slam clicking on my overnights to get my studies taken care of.

To the OP. If I could go back to being 20, I would have worked harder to earn my degree while in the service. I think just getting it out of the way if you're financially able to do so when young will save you some hair loss down the line when you're stuck at regional xyz. You will be going crazy not getting a call when everyone else is because you don't have that 30,000 dollar check in the box. Plus, life will happen and you may have a spouse and kids by the time you realize that the degree is required for that career job. Don't bet on the flow, some guys bet on that years ago and it didn't pan out so well for them..
 

chrisreedrules

Master Blaster
Until, of course, the flow agreement ceases to exist.
I think it could be argued that American has itself in a bit of a bind with the flow, if their goal was to end it. In such an event they would see an exodus of their regional pilots and their regional feed would suffer immensely. And for most legacies the issue is training capacity as of right now. They can barely keep up. So if they were going to cover the flying at mainline it would take years to spool up. I don’t think the AA flows are going anywhere. If anything slows them or stops them it will be an outside event. Not AA’s doing. And if that happens the whole industry will come to a screeching halt.
 

chrisreedrules

Master Blaster
This is something I struggle with comprehending about the industry. Does getting a four year degree show that one has the drive to finish a goal? Absolutely, but so does a five year enlistment then a two year degree that accompanied all of my ratings. Going into further debt for a simple check in the box is hard to talk myself into, although at the end of the day I know it is a necessary step that will hopefully one day pay off.

I know that I will be taking my time at getting it, because commuting while working 4-5 on and 2 off is already a hit on qol. So online classes it will be, while slam clicking on my overnights to get my studies taken care of.

To the OP. If I could go back to being 20, I would have worked harder to earn my degree while in the service. I think just getting it out of the way if you're financially able to do so when young will save you some hair loss down the line when you're stuck at regional xyz. You will be going crazy not getting a call when everyone else is because you don't have that 30,000 dollar check in the box. Plus, life will happen and you may have a spouse and kids by the time you realize that the degree is required for that career job. Don't bet on the flow, some guys bet on that years ago and it didn't pan out so well for them..
There are many ways of showing drive to finish a goal. But it is hard to quantify that. That essentially is what a degree does among other things.

I have friends who finished college in massive debt. And they still can’t find a meaningful career. Many wait tables, bar tend, and have small lawn-cutting businesses. Cost of living has gone up considerably in many cities. It’s hard to save for a house or to get ahead in life by saving money for things when you can barely pay all your bills every month. Many are just making interest payments on their school debt.

The market has changed. A college degree no longer ensures a successful career. A recent poll I saw showed that many would give up their rights to vote just to have their school debt wiped out. That’s insane but it goes to show you the breadth of the problem. People feel disenfranchised. The fairy tail they were sold by their parents and trusted advisors was a lie.

If you’re going to go to college and incur a lot of debt, make SURE you are doing so for a STEM degree. If you want to be a teacher or a social worker there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re okay with incurring $100,000 in debt for a career that you can barely make ends meet with I would advise you against it. Sounds like common sense right? Apparently not...
 

JDean3204

Well-Known Member
There are many ways of showing drive to finish a goal. But it is hard to quantify that. That essentially is what a degree does among other things.

I have friends who finished college in massive debt. And they still can’t find a meaningful career. Many wait tables, bar tend, and have small lawn-cutting businesses. Cost of living has gone up considerably in many cities. It’s hard to save for a house or to get ahead in life by saving money for things when you can barely pay all your bills every month. Many are just making interest payments on their school debt.

The market has changed. A college degree no longer ensures a successful career. A recent poll I saw showed that many would give up their rights to vote just to have their school debt wiped out. That’s insane but it goes to show you the breadth of the problem. People feel disenfranchised. The fairy tail they were sold by their parents and trusted advisors was a lie.

If you’re going to go to college and incur a lot of debt, make SURE you are doing so for a STEM degree. If you want to be a teacher or a social worker there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re okay with incurring $100,000 in debt for a career that you can barely make ends meet with I would advise you against it. Sounds like common sense right? Apparently not...
Or people continuing school and getting their masters just so they can continue to defer the massive load of debt they already have. Then they still can't find a decent job because they have no experience in the field to accompany their 120k worth of education.

It's sad how things are starting to change anymore, I know on the left coast it feels like you have to make north of 70k to even live what most would call a decent lifestyle.. If you want a house... more like 90k. That is in the NW, down in California you can make 6 figures and still live paycheck to paycheck with the rental rates and housing market down there. That coupled with the outrageous tuition costs makes it a tough place to get ahead for years after your education.
 

chrisreedrules

Master Blaster
Or people continuing school and getting their masters just so they can continue to defer the massive load of debt they already have. Then they still can't find a decent job because they have no experience in the field to accompany their 120k worth of education.

It's sad how things are starting to change anymore, I know on the left coast it feels like you have to make north of 70k to even live what most would call a decent lifestyle.. If you want a house... more like 90k. That is in the NW, down in California you can make 6 figures and still live paycheck to paycheck with the rental rates and housing market down there..
It’s the same everywhere. Home prices where I live have risen at a crazy rate over the past couple years. My wife and I were very fortunate to have the opportunity to make some smart investment while prices were still affordable. Our friends who are just now looking to buy are saying, “We can’t afford a house anywhere worth living”. When the average price of a house in a decent neighborhood is $300,000, think about how much you need to save for a down payment. Not to mention all of the other qualifying factors. The old measure of being middle class was being able to afford a house, a car, and to have a family. Now it’s being able to pay your bills and still save at the same time.
 

z987k

Well-Known Member
It’s the same everywhere. Home prices where I live have risen at a crazy rate over the past couple years. My wife and I were very fortunate to have the opportunity to make some smart investment while prices were still affordable. Our friends who are just now looking to buy are saying, “We can’t afford a house anywhere worth living”. When the average price of a house in a decent neighborhood is $300,000, think about how much you need to save for a down payment. Not to mention all of the other qualifying factors. The old measure of being middle class was being able to afford a house, a car, and to have a family. Now it’s being able to pay your bills and still save at the same time.
This is why I keep saying middle class starts at 100k.
Middle class not being the middle of the bell curve of course.
 
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