Best path to getting an ATP certificate as well as a 4-year degree?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by surferdude25, Nov 25, 2022.


College with ATP program or seperate them?

  1. College with ATP program

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  2. Seperate college and ATP certificate

  1. surferdude25

    surferdude25 Filing Flight Plan

    Nov 25, 2022

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    So I'm currently still in high school. I'm just trying to figure out the best and preferably cheapest way to get a 4-year degree and getting my ATP certificate. Is it going to ATP Flight School? Or a college with a program such as UVU. I live in California, so whats the cheapest/best way to get there? I'm not opposed to moving out of state, or community college but I don't want to kill myself with student loans. Is going to an online university while going to ATP flight school a good route? What are other ways to get my ATP certificate? I'm kind of all over the place with options at this point. One thing I will note: I don't want to go to a college in Utah (whole slew of reasons)
  2. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Dec 2, 2014

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    Not sure I have a good answer, but I will say that ATP flight school will give you neither a four year degree nor an ATP certificate (at least not right away on the cert).
    They will train you for commercial, instrument, multi, as well as CFI.
    After that you need to build experience to meet ATP minimums.
    It is possible to instruct for ATP in order to achieve those minimums.

    As far as a degree, ATP is full time. You cannot go to school and ATP at the same time.
    If you trained on your own, local to your college, you could do both as your flight training could be part time over the four years.
  3. TravisRNT

    TravisRNT Ejection Handle Pulled

    Nov 24, 2022

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    Get a degree that can make money outside of aviation, or don’t bother with the degree and save the money and time [which is money]

    Go google “Reddit ATP Inc”

    Join a cheap flying club and go to a cheap community college
    Tools likes this.
  4. jordane93

    jordane93 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Sep 9, 2013
    Long Island, NY

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    Get a degree from a cheap state school and fly concurrently.
    J.G. and TCABM like this.
  5. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Line Up and Wait

    Jul 10, 2019

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    Initial Fix
    I think you might be confusing the process of earning your ATP with a singular program instead of earning each certificate then building the hours required for the ATP.

    sure you can absolutely earn some kind of 4 year degree. And attend a flight school separately to earn your certificates. One thing attending a university with a flight program buys you is a lower hour restricted ATP.
  6. Tools

    Tools Cleared for Takeoff

    Aug 6, 2020

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    141 programs command a premium, which is fine. But you CANNOT change schools even once and reap the benefits of lower time.

    If on a scholarship, makes a lot of sense.

    If self funded, buy a cheap plane and FLY. Don’t bother with a hangar… you should be FLYING! There is precisely ONE way to get the hours needed, FLY.

    Im about convinced flying jumpers is good. Schedule works well with school. You wear a parachute, you’re always over an airfield. You will develop stick and rudder skills.

    If you can get your A&P as part of your degree, you WILL be able to find a job and will likely develop contacts FAST that enable flying.
    J.G. likes this.
  7. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

    Oct 25, 2005
    Wichita, KS

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    A four year aviation degree can allow you to get your (Restricted) ATP at 1000 hours instead of 1500. A two-year aviation degree can allow you to get your (Restricted) ATP at 1250. Aviation degrees are expensive…compare the cost with an equivalent non-aviation degree at a cheaper school and just flying your butt off.

    Right now there are Part 135 jet operators hiring relatively low-time copilots, ATP not required. They’ll get to 1500 hours in a year or two. What the market will be like in a few years, who knows.
  8. MarkH

    MarkH Line Up and Wait

    Oct 8, 2018
    Las Vegas

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    Best is very dependent on your circumstances.

    But, if I were 17, knowing what I know now, I would focus on getting a pilot certificate (Ideally PPL, but Sport pilot could work) before starting college.

    After that, focus on aeronautical experience, in other words, you need to fly. Find a way to get in the air consistently, join a club, buy a plane (or partnership).

    Then I would look for aviation schools that offer both an Associates (AS) and Bachelor (BS) that is endorsed by the FAA for R-ATP (, and I can pay in state tuition prices.

    Enroll in the AS program, study hard and fly regularly, when I am approaching graduation look for a flying job with the AS and hours I have. If I get a job that will allow me to build more valuable time, faster than finishing the BS in Aviation take the job, if not continue to the BS in Aviation with the goal of having as close to 1000 hours logged on the day I graduate as possible.

    If I take a job that allows me to build time quickly (ideally pipeline patrol, a 135 position, or something else that will fly more 500 hrs/year), transfer to an online program for a non-aviation Bachelor degree. Work on it part time, with the primary goal of building time to get the R-ATP and a 121 job, go to a 121 carrier as fast as possible (continue working on the degree), focus on logging 1000 hours of 121. As soon as I hit 1000 hours of 121 time, if I have not graduated with a Bachelor, I would bid the easiest schedule I can get and focus on finishing the degree.

    In my opinion this would be the most effective way to get to the airlines quickly, but this plan is not cheap and for that reason may not be realistic for many (or even most) students. But there are some important things to consider regardless:
    1) Get a PPL or Sport pilot before you spend a dime on an aviation college. It helps you to know what you are getting into, and gives you a step ahead to reduce the challenges that come with the college transition + college courses + flight training.
    2) You need to fly outside of training. You can get 1500 hours faster than you can get a 4 year degree, and every regional is paying enough for you to pay out of pocket for college. You can work on your degree while instructing, flying 135 or at the regional airlines. If you cannot afford to attend an aviation college and continue to build time, it may be worth considering building time while attending a community college.
    3) Think about how you are going to pay for it, loans are (in my opinion) the biggest selling point of non-college 141 programs and are still a major selling point of college Aviation programs. If you don't want to use the loans, it may be better to go another route.
    4) There are good flying jobs that don't need a 4 year degree. If you don't choose an aviation degree, it may be worth while to focus on building the skills to qualify for those jobs as a separate priority from the degree.
  9. YakDrvr

    YakDrvr Filing Flight Plan

    Sep 11, 2022

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    My advice, (current pilot at an airline with a great pension and a B plan with industry leading pay rates) would be to first knock out your ratings through CFI (ASAP), then go to college full time while flight instructing part time to cover expenses and build time. Major in something that you can build a career on if the flying thing doesn’t happen. Perhaps consider going to a freight feeder operation (part 135) that’s subcontractor to UPS/FEDEX as soon as they will take you and finish your degree via distance learning. You could conceivably hit age 21 with 1,000 multi-TPIC and 1,500 hours. Take the restricted ATP and a job at a regional/ACMI. By the time you are 23, your bachelors is complete and you are competitive for the legacies, FedEx/UPS, etc.