Help from real life airline pilots

Hello all. I have a question about becoming an airline pilot. So far, from what I am reading, almost everybody says do not go to an aviation program at a university (college degree) to become a pilot because it leaves you with no backup and will cost more than it’s supposed to. So I know that I want to get a degree in something unrelated to aviation and then go to a flight school after to become an airline pilot.

My questions are the following:

  1. Would you suggest this route or the aviation degree route?
  2. Have you got your degree in something unrelated and then became a pilot?
  3. What are common degrees for pilots (other than aviation) that I can get quick and will be a good backup degree in case of turbulence in my aviation career?

@DeerCrusher this sounds like something you can help out on

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At my university, you can be in the flight program and not major in aviation. we offer both part 141 and 61 flight training, Theres pilots i know that dont have a degree aviation but its what they do as job. there degress are in Political Science and Criminal Justice


Go through a flight school. 141 is a massive scam, if you plan to go, do part 61.
My company we operate fixed wing aircraft all over the world on a 135 Certificate. We also are an extremely good paying job and will pay for type ratings. We don’t want a college degree we want some one whose willing to invest in their time and stay at our company. Our fixed wing guys love it and are paid well. As a back up degree get something useful, safety, law, business, ext something that if something happens you can go back on. Mine is in Business.

  1. Yes. Flight training does not come cheap and it can be quite pricy. With good grades from high school and good college entrance exam scores, you’ll likely get some scholarships that would assist with offsetting the cost. I’d recommend considering an aviation degree route.

  2. I have a Bachelors of Science degree in “Aviation Management with a Professional Pilot Concentration”. that’s how its worded on the diploma . Aviation Management will be my fall back in the event that I become ill or disabled in a way that would prevent me from obtaining a medical certificate.

  3. Aviation Management and Aircraft Mechanic/Maintenance often referred as an A&P are always solid options. Air Traffic Control can be a tricky fall back as they too require medical certificates.

But the moral of the story is to have a back up. It sounds like you’re already thinking ahead and that’s exactly what you should be doing. Aviation is a very fluid industry and can change overnight. Its always best to have a plan of action before 💩hits the fan. 😉


Hi, I was looking at possibly doing aviation management. The university near me that offers it is Eastern Michigan University, their aviation management degree awards you the major and a minor in general business. What do you think about this? You mentioned that your fallback is aviation management, what kind of jobs can you get with a aviation management degree? And if the economy is bad and pilots start to get furloughed, will airport jobs suffer?

I’m only 13 years old and not nearly an expert on this kinda stuff. But going through the Air Force is a great way to become a commercial pilot. You can get a great education at the Air Force Academy as well as free flight training. You will get great benefits for your retirement as well as things like insurance. The only thing I don’t know is the transition to an airline. When and how. But a lot of the people my dad flies with are ex-Air Force. Hope this helps.

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All sorts of stuff. It’s fairly universal within aviation. One of the big roles would be an airport manager. Run an airport to working on the operations side of the airport to the business and financial roles.


Thanks for the reply, one more question.

If the reason I need a backup is because of a possible furlough, which means the aviation industry is down in general, won’t that affect jobs in airports also? I am no expert, maybe you know something I don’t.

Also, do you know of anyone who had a aviation management degree as a backup and actually had to use it?

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With an aviation management degree, yes. Now if you look into something that RotorGuy mentioned such as Business, something out side of aviation then you won’t need to worry about the aviation industry.

And no. I don’t know of anyone that has had to use their fall back as of yet. Not saying it isn’t possible, but its always important to have a plan b.


If you want to join the military for army. They don’t require a degree to fly and they have more airplanes then anyone else combined.

The reason I have a business degree is so then I can get office jobs with in the industry, high paying officer slots require a business degree with aviation experience/ I have the experience so just needed the degree!

Military is not an option for me. I need to go the civilian route.

I would like to work at a major one day. What is your opinion on an aviation management degree with a minor in business?

Ok, can you shed some light on some other degrees other than aviation management or business that you know are popular options among pilots?

Thanks for all of the responses, it’s super helpful!!!

One of our pilots has a degree in engineering, another in safety. We have a few businesses, one has a Criminal Justice. It’s all across the board from my point of view. At the last company I was with only one guy had a degree, that was the former CEO everyone else didn’t.

Get yourself a backup and delay the dream by some years. Without any backup I think I would been sleeping on the street right now. So my most important advice: Get a back up with a college degree

I’m 15 and in Higher Secondary right now. My parents are fine with me going to the aviation sector and flying commercial. One thing they emphasize on is to get backup with a Univ/College degree just in case things don’t work out in aviation. Engineering is a pretty big deal in India and it’s something that I wouldn’t mind doing either. I concur with Matt and think it’s best to have a backup with something else you wouldn’t mind doing if Lady Luck isn’t in your favour or there’s some other factors that don’t play out ;)

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No hard feelings but how valuable is a college degree after not being into it for lets say 5-10 years because you managed to get a pilot job after finishing your flight training?

This topic is very difficult, I have seen all situations.

  • People have no backup and got a great pilot job right away.
  • People with no backup who never made it to becoming a pilot and started their degree after flight training, also they did it this way to be able to step out of the degree anytime a job would come by.
  • People who did a degree, then started flight training and got a job as a pilot.
  • Someone who has a degree, got a great pilot job and lost his medical after 7 years. His degree was completely useless as he told me. He managed to become a SFI with the airline he was flying with before he lost his medical.

The whole process of becoming a pilot is so different depending on your location in the world and if you are willing to go to any place in the world to make your dream come true.


After my university I chose to start the sponsored training with an European airline. After I completed, the market crashed. With my degree I was able to start in a good job.
Overall I studied for 4 years, directly after I did my flight training in 2 years.
The chance to get into the cockpit directly, is quite low. As my advice, get a back up and chasing the dream.


Oh wow that is so much bad luck, sorry to hear that. I’ll sent you a PM.