How to become a commercial pilot?

Hey IFC. I know a lot of people here are already commercial pilots or at least working towards it so I had some questions about it and how I would be able to get there. I live in the US and am nearing the end of high school so I wanted to get some information on how I could start my way in becoming a pilot.

What degrees are required to become a pilot? Is there a path recommended on how to get there? Do I go to a flight school instead of college? During college? After college? How would I apply to become a pilot? I have searched google for these questions but I wanted to get real life pilot’s input on it.

Sorry to overload on questions but I really just want to know more information on how to get there and as I said, I searched on google but wanted to know what real life pilots have to say about it. Really just any information you all have would be very much appreciated.


Full disclosure I haven’t done it yet, but this is what I’ve found in my research for the same path…

You can do flight school through college, or separately, that choice would be based on a lot of personal factors, but really all the airlines look for at the end of the day is that you have all the certifications and flight hours, and a related degree, so that would be stuff like aerospace engineering, meteorology, etc, or there are some college programs that will sort of give you a little of everything in some sort of professional pilots degree. It depends a lot on where you are on your path and what’s appealing to you, and I’m not the best guy to ask since I haven’t done it, but as I face the same path as you, sounds like the two things I mentioned above are the boxes you need to tick, all needed pilots liscenses and endorsements, and a related degree…


Well I’m on the college route right now and I couldn’t agree more
Find a program that works for you (whether through college or somewhere else) and focus on the quality of the training you’ll get rather than the name of the institution where you get it. At the end of the day, your endorsements and hours do more for you than the school you attended.


Do you have an estimate on how long it would take to start flying for a regional airline from the time you begin college?

@Josh_Suarez and @Erj145 might be able to give you a better estimate than I could because they’re among the people on the IFC who’ve done it (at least the ones I’ve spoken to)
I think it depends on the program and institution but I’m not sure how much difference it makes

This too


1 Like

This is a question for @DeerCrusher


All I have to say is go to college. My dad never went, and he regrets it.
Just being a pilot is fulfilling but, if it’s not for you, you need a back up plan.


Couldn’t agree more. I’m planning on pursuing a Master’s or higher in Macroeconomics with a Bachelor’s in Aerospace as a fall-back degree if Wall Street doesn’t work out.

1 Like

I am currently in flight school working towards being a pilot. I have many family friends who are pilots so I have a little insight. firstly I would recommend going to flight school but it is not necessary you can also go to college and get a degree in aviation and they will teach you and help you get your license. If you do go to flight school still go to college! To be a pilot there is no specific degree that is needed you Technically don’t even need a college degree but airlines heavily favor people with one. Any degree will work not just ones in aviation. Many aviation schools such as Western Michigan, Ohio state, Lewis university, and embry-riddle have partnerships with airlines to help get jobs and if not going there will make it easier. To be a pilot you need lots of flight time so you will need to get a smaller job before you go to the airlines jobs such as Flight instructor (requires CFI license), Skydiving pilot, banner pilot, or working for a smaller airline like Air choice one or mokulele airlines just two off the top of my head. After those jobs you will have enough flight hours to apply for a job at the airlines. Many smaller airlines will post job availability at larger ones like for the U.S. Delta, United, or American most will start through a smaller airline that flies on behalf of one of the larger ones like Skywest. then once you get there the large airlines will teach you to get your commercial pilots licences then you will learn to fly regional jets such as ERJ’s and CRJ’s. Then you can work you way up to the larger jets.

Hope this helped if you have anymore questions I will be happy to help just PM me.


Some great advice here Brad. Also there are some closed threads that will answer your questions. But I’ll do some quick answers for ya.

What degrees are required to become a pilot?

Anything. That’s one of the beauty’s of becoming a pilot in the US. Most pilots do some sorta aviation deg or aviation mgt. Personally , mine are in literture , finance, biology, and one language.

Is there a path recommended on how to get there?

My personal recommendation(pre COVID). After high school go to an accelerated flight school. Knock out all your ratings. Go to a univ and get a deg that you are passionate about but also get a practical one - ex- buss admin, chem, anything IT related (comp sci. Comp E. ). While you are in school instruct at a local FBO to build flight time and experience . By the 4 yrs done you will have enough flight time to go the regional airline route or Corp aviation

Do I go to a flight school instead of college?

Eventually you will need a deg to get a job with the majors, so you will have to do college at some point.

During college? After college?

See my previous answers

How would I apply to become a pilot?

Once you have enough flight time you will make an account at airline apps and send out your apps to the airlines of your pref.

Hope this helps :)


Very much, thank you. Just one question, is foreflight required for flight schools? Just asking because I am going to be getting an iPad Pro in the future and I know foreflight needs wifi and cellular version

Hi Brad! I’m also a high school student with just a year left so I get all the questions you have. I found that both regular flight training and going to college are both acceptable ways to becoming a commercial pilot. However, in order to get hired as an airline pilot you do have to be at least 21 so the college option is a great way to go as you not only get great training but also get a degree which is something I found that some airlines prefer. Along with this, after you graduate you are usually offered a job to become a CFI at the university in order to build your required 1500 (give or take some) hours in order to get your ATP certification. There is also airline programs that ensure a spot with their company once you receive your ATP like United Aviate or the American Cadet Academy. If you have any questions about what colleges offer a commercial pilot major or about anything else feel free to message me as I’m going through this process as well. :)

1 Like

hey @Brad I also live near chicago and i’m in high school and the flight school I go to does not require foreflight and I am pretty sure most do not.

1 Like

Okay. Is it recommended? Or do a lot of pilots use it?

I know a lot who use it but I personally never have so I’m not to sure.

1 Like

You are in a flight school in high school? How do you get into one?

there is no age requirement for flight school I am flying about once a month so I can stretch it out until I am 17

1 Like

So would I just need to find a nearby flight school and just schedule flight lessons?

Essentially what I’m doing this summer to get my private
Find a local FBO and schedule lessons with them