The Federal Aeronautics Administration does not require people to have an accredited degree from a college to become a pilot, however, most employers will favor candidates who have degrees in relevant fields.
Some airlines will require you to have a bachelor's degree to become a pilot where some will not require you to have one.
Some of the best degrees for becoming a pilot are:
- Bachelor of Arts or Science in Aviation
- Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology
- Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
- Bachelor of Aeronautical Science
- Bachelor of Science in Air Traffic
- Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management
- Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance
- Bachelor of Computer Science
- Bachelor of Science in Physics
- Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
Some of these degrees can be done around various colleges in the world, however, only some of these will be available at colleges that offer aviation degrees.
What are the best colleges for becoming a pilot?
As much as employers won’t admit it, they’ll take a strong viewpoint on where you went to college or university and what you studied.
Candidates who studied at highly regarded colleges for aviation or aeronautical studies will be looked upon favorably, whilst those who also gained an accredited degree from the United States Air Force Academy will also have more prospects when it comes to becoming a pilot.
The best colleges for becoming a pilot in the US are:
- Purdue School of Aviation and Technology
- University of North Dakota (Department of Aviation)
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
- Lewis University in Illinois
- Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies
Which bachelor’s degree is best for a pilot?
Bachelor of Arts of Science degrees in fields like Aviation Technology, Management, Maintenance, Aerospace Engineer, Sciences or Air Traffic that also provide you with flight training programs are the best if you want to become a pilot.
To become a commercial pilot you will need over 1500 hours logged flying time to acquire the Air Transport Pilot License, so any bachelor degree that can contribute to this log or even fulfill this requirement is excellent.
Which engineering is best for a pilot?
The best engineering degree to become a pilot is Aerospace engineering, whilst it doesn’t directly prepare you for becoming a pilot nor may they provide you with flying opportunities, a prospective employer will look favorably on your application because of your experience with elements of aviation degrees like thermodynamics and aerodynamics.
However, aerospace engineering is a lot more difficult than other aviation degrees and is focused more on the education side than the practical flying skills. This will result in you still needing to do additional training to become a pilot, however, the comprehensive education will prepare you for a good variety of other careers if your pilot dreams did not work out.
If you were looking to take the quickest route to become a pilot then a bachelors in aerospace engineering would not be the right choice. Most aerospace engineering degrees range from 3-4 years and even after you’ve completed those you’ll need to do additional pilot training and find somewhere to log your 1500 hours of flying time to get your pilot license.
Going to a specialized pilot school would be more recommended as you’ll gain an accredited degree whilst also getting quality flying time.
How expensive is pilot school?
The cost of training to become a pilot will depend on where you go to school and what licenses you are trying to acquire.
On average the cost of becoming a commercial pilot can cost in the region of $25,000 to $85,000. This is not just the cost of your education alone but also involves the medical, written, and practical exams that you have to take to become a licensed commercial pilot.
If you intend to do a bachelor’s degree in something like aviation technology or aerospace engineering before training to become a pilot on a training program then you could be looking at paying upwards of $80,000 quite easily.
Can I become a pilot for free?
It may not be impossible to become a pilot for free, but it will prove very difficult.
If you can get a sponsor or scholarship to cover the costs of your pilot training then you won’t have to worry about paying, however becoming a licensed commercial pilot for an airline will be difficult, if not impossible to do without paying a dime.
Some people can end up paying nearly $200,000 to get all their qualifications to be a highly regarded pilot, so it seems hard to believe that someone could reach this level at no cost at all.
Are pilots in demand?
Yes, there is a demand for pilots at the moment and the demand is growing as many current serving pilots are nearing the retirement age and the industry will therefore need new pilots coming through the ranks to replace them.
Boeing forecasted that the aviation industry will need nearly 700,000 new pilots before 2035, so now sounds like the right time if you were considering becoming one.