What Degree Is Needed To Become A Pilot?

PilotThe degree needed to become a pilot is typically a bachelor’s degree if you are interested in flying for a commercial airline. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to get a commercial pilot’s license and an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. Read on to learn more about how to become an airline pilot.

Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree

If you want to become an airline pilot, the first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in any subject. While there is no specific degree that is recommended for aspiring pilots, higher education is a requirement to earn the ATP certificate from the FAA. You may choose to attend flight training at a school that’s certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) while you’re earning your degree, or shortly thereafter.

Earning Your Commercial Pilot’s License

To get a commercial pilot’s license, you must be at least 18 years old and be attending a flight training school certified by the FAA. During your training, you must log the number of hours you spend flying and have this record endorsed by a qualified instructor. The FAA requires that you log a certain number of hours to become a commercial pilot, as well as pass a knowledge test and a practical test. More information about these requirements is available at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations website.

Earning Your ATP Certificate

To earn the ATP certificate, applicants must be at least 23 years old, have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time, and pass written and practical flight exams. Once you have your ATP certificate along with your pilot’s license, you’ll be eligible to work as a pilot for most commercial airlines. However, some may have hiring requirements that go above and beyond the federal requirements.

Becoming a Commercial Pilot

Many airline pilots first work as commercial pilots for industries such as agriculture. This allows them to log the hours needed to transition to work as an airline pilot. Only a high school diploma is needed to become a commercial pilot. In addition, many airline pilots traditionally transitioned from the military, where extensive training was provided. However, today it is typically more lucrative for these pilots to remain with the military.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual wage for airline pilots is $114,200 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, pilots typically start at around $20,000, and earn more based on experience as well as a per diem rate for hours spent away from home. Employment of airline pilots is projected to decline over the next ten years as airlines strive to cut costs, with a net loss of approximately 800 jobs. Pilots with more experience will have better employment prospects, as well as those with regional airlines and other niche carriers.

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While no degree is needed to become a pilot if you’re interested in becoming a commercial pilot, airline pilots must earn at least a bachelor’s degree.