At What Education Level Are Most Pilots?

Pilots are required to undergo extensive training before they are allowed to fly commercial aircraft. This training involves learning new skills such as flying, navigation, communication, etc.

At What Education Level Are Most Pilots? 

While undergoing extensive training is required, what kind of education is required to be a pilot?

Commercial Pilot Education Requirements

Most commercial pilots have bachelor’s degrees, and about half of them have associate degrees.

Utah Valley University and the University Of North Dakota are the top schools for pursuing a career as a commercial pilot.

Do You Need A College Degree To Be A Pilot? 

Due to the extensive training that is needed to become a pilot, a college degree is not needed. However, many airlines do prefer it if their pilots have a degree. 

While these airlines tend to accept any kind of major, some of the ones that may get you ahead of the game would be; Aviation, Aerospace engineering, Aeronautical science, and Air traffic management. 

Do You Need A Degree To Become A Commercial Pilot? 

A commercial pilot does not work for a major airline, but they can work in the following professions: 

– Flight instructor

– Charter pilot 

– Air ambulance pilot

Training to be a commercial pilot can begin as you leave high school, and you are not required to have a degree for most entry-level pilot jobs in the commercial category. 

Do You Need A Degree To Work As An Airline Pilot? 

To work as an airline pilot, you need to go through a rigorous process called the FAA’s flight academy. The first step is getting your private pilot certificate.

After this, you will take a test called the knowledge exam (also known as the practical test) which tests your ability to navigate by instruments alone.

If you pass this test, you will then be able to apply to be a student pilot with one of the major airlines. Once you complete all of this, you will be ready to start working on your commercial license.

In recent years, there has been more demand for pilots. Therefore, a degree is not generally a requirement.

However, if your dream is to work for one of the major airlines, then, although they may only state ‘degree preferred’ in their applications, you should definitely have one as it will put you ahead of others in the application process.  

How To Complete Your Degree To Become A Pilot

The way to becoming a pilot is by undergoing extensive training and then completing a set number of hours of flying in order to get to the next step.

This may have you wondering when and how you can complete a degree. 

There are a few ways you can do this. 

Traditional Degrees

Going down the four-year college route certainly has some perks.

Many college courses enable you to complete some flight training alongside your studies, reducing the overall flight hours needed for the ATP to 1000. 

This does have some drawbacks, as you will not be able to start working until you’ve completed your four years.

This means you’ll still need to find an entry-level job to complete the flight hours required for your ATP to be able to apply for the big airlines. 

Unfortunately, this method does take longer and can be more expensive. 

Accelerated Degrees 

Accelerated degree programs offer the best of both worlds’ scenarios. They allow you to work on your degree via an online platform while completing flight training at a partner school. 

The flight training is normally done in semesters and takes around 2 years to complete.

Once this has been completed, students can begin to work towards completing the 1000 hours that are needed for the ATP. 

On the side of this, they are still involved in the online classes working towards their degree. This enables students to apply for federal funding as they are involved in a degree program. 

This method also enables them to be able to apply for airlines after 3 or 4 years. 

Full-Time Accelerated Flight Training

At What Education Level Are Most Pilots? 

This is probably the fastest way to get started working for airlines. During this process, students will work full time on their flight training, getting 7 certifications from private pilot to CFI. 

They can then begin working as a CFI, building their 1500 flying hours to reach ATP. 

Once they have been working as a CFI and have made it to work for a regional airline, they can then begin their degrees while they work, allowing them to complete it while they are a First Officer. 

This can really put aspiring pilots ahead of the game, allowing them to build on their seniority, while they complete their degrees. 

Pay As You Go Schemes 

For those who would like to complete a degree that is not necessarily related to aviation but would still like to train as a pilot, they can use pay-as-you-go programs.

This is where they complete training outside their degrees, paying for lessons as they go. 

This is a great option for those who want to save up and would rather not take out loans, but it is harder to keep to a schedule as there is no one holding the aspiring pilot accountable. 

How Long Does It Take To Get Your Private Pilot License? 

The time it takes to receive your private pilot license depends on how much experience you already have.

If you have no previous flying experience, it could take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year.

If you have any prior flying experience, it could be less than half that amount.

The exact time frame will depend on what type of aircraft you fly and whether you choose to do solo or multi-engine flights. 

It will also depend on how you go about your training. If you enrol in a flight school, it can be done in less time than if you use a pay-as-you-go program. 

A private pilot’s license (PPL)  is given to people who have passed all the tests required by the FAA to obtain a private pilot certificate. 

Pilots with a PPL must hold a current medical certificate issued within six months before taking the exam. 

Pilots under 18 years old may not take the written test unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. You need to pass a knowledge test, check ride, and practical test to earn your PPL. 

You can only fly single-engine planes, so if you plan to fly multi-engine planes, you’ll need to wait until you’ve earned your instrument rating. 

In addition to earning a PPL, you should also consider earning an aeronautical document such as a commercial pilot license or flight instructor certificate.

These documents allow you to teach others how to fly. 

Final Thoughts 

To conclude, many pilots may have degrees, but as it is not a requirement, you may encounter some that do not. 

While a degree that is related to aviation is helpful, the most important part of becoming a pilot is the vigorous training and flying hours that are needed. 

The fastest route to becoming a pilot would be enrolling in a flight school and dedicating yourself to the schedule they provide you with.

If obtaining a degree is important to you, there are various ways to do this. 

However, if you aspire to be a pilot in as quick a time as possible, then it is best to complete your flight training and then work towards completing your degree while you are working for an airline, building on your flight hours. 

Jacob Stern
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