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Home > Education > Must one have a University degree to be an airline pilot?
Must one have a University degree to be an airline pilot?
Pilot Career - Education
Wednesday, 12 October 2005 12:10
Hello Captain Lim,

My name is Aaron and if its not too much trouble, I have a few more questions for you.

I have definitely decided to make flying as my career but have become slightly discouraged due to the fact that only the top educated get all the best jobs. I have only a High School Diploma and to fly as an ATP, nearly everyone says that you need a minimum University degree or some kind of advanced education.

Could you tell me what the main reason for that is? I mean, I just can*t see how some guys with a Masters degree in Law or Business could help fly a plane any better. I am guessing that it*s the appearance of status - that you look like someone important. I know that when your are in the air; it*s all about the feeling, the control, the judgment, the intuition and so on.

Do you have a degree as well? And finally, what are the chances of being employed without a degree?

Thank you for your time.

Aaron Lakusta

Hi Aaron,

It is not true that only the top educated get all the best flying jobs. Whilst there is no such requirement, most airlines would prefer you to have a degree from the University. The market forces generally determine this requirement and statistics have shown that the education levels of most pilots getting hired are not those with the minimum qualifications. The rationale of airlines is simple - if they have the choices, they would go for the graduates because they have proven themselves that they can stick to a challenging curriculum and succeed in their rigorous training. This is one of the qualities that the airlines would like to know before they invest the money to train you to fly some of the multi-million-dollar flying machines.

Nevertheless, do not be discouraged! I will tell you a secret. Flying is a unique profession. You don*t need to have a Master degree to fly well. I have known of a doctor who failed to make the grade as an airline pilot! I also know many high school diploma holders who are naturally good pilots and are doing very well in the airlines. Flying well require some inborn skills and an average mental capacity.

Do I have a degree? No - initially. I only had a High School Diploma and the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom was prepared to train me as a pilot. Nevertheless, I did acquire a law degree (self-study part time) after I became an airline pilot; but I am not a practicing lawyer (because I love flying more).

What are the chances of being employed without a degree? To be employed, you need flying experience - something not easy when you are starting a flying career. I would assume that you would acquire your flying training from a local flight school rather than from those professional Colleges/Universities where graduates end up with a degree and ATP certificates. Yes, training from the flight school will take longer and the instruction may not be as rich, but remember, all commercial certificates are treated equal in the eyes of FAA. So you are not disadvantaged!

In the past when there were shortages of pilots, some airlines hired pilots without certificates or experiences and trained them up. This is no longer the case but it is still widely practiced outside the USA - especially in Asia where aviation is booming. Today, major US airlines no longer hire a pilot with a freshly minted pilot*s certificate and with only about 250 flying hours. So, sad to say, you have to start your career up the hard way - accumulating hours and experiences with the general aviation first.

Well, it looks like your flying career path may be a rough one with many changes of employers, and if you are lucky, starting with the secondary airlines (regional or commuter) before you can see some lights at the end of the tunnel - the major airlines. It is possible! :-)

Wish you all the best!

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Hi captain Lim,
if i have a diploma in aerospace engineering, and short sighted of about 400degrees. Im an ex student from SYFC, dont know if this helps. Is the chances of me getting hired by SIA very slim.
Hope to hear from u soon.
Ken , 06 Feb, 2009
how can i become a pilot
what course should i take off then???
jeremiah , 25 Jan, 2010
If I only hold a diploma, would they want to check on my A level on Maths and Physics?
Hello Captain Lim,

I heard that from my friend which works as a flight attendant in Cathy Pacific. She said that if you want to be a pilot, the maximum age that they will recruit you is 30 years old and have a minimum education of A level study in Maths and Physics. Nevertheless, if the person shall hold a degree than the above aspects do not apply to him. I am just wondering does this apply to most airlines across the world. And what if I hold a high diploma, do I still need to have a certificate of A level Maths and Physics?
Sam , 01 Apr, 2013
Pls reply
Hi,

I'm from the Philippines and I am currently 3rd year high and would graduate next year. I want to become a pilot here but my problem is the tuition fee. As of now, I don't have any knowledge in how pilot works, whether what course should I take. My question is, should I go to PATTS and have "Bachelor of Science in Air Transportation" as my course?( http://www.patts.edu.ph/bsat.html )or should I have a different course but I want to become a Pilot.

- Ace
Harvey Lallave , 03 Jan, 2014
Pls reply
Hi,

I'm from the Philippines and I am currently 3rd year high and would graduate next year. I want to become a pilot here but my problem is the tuition fee. As of now, I don't have any knowledge in how pilot works, whether what course should I take. My question is, should I go to PATTS and have "Bachelor of Science in Air Transportation" as my course?( http://www.patts.edu.ph/bsat.html )or should I have a different course but I want to become a Pilot.

- Ace
Ace , 03 Jan, 2014
University
Do you need to go university for being an airline pilot? I want to join a cadet like CTC Wings or Oxford Aviation.
Marco , 15 Aug, 2015

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