Before we dive into this topic it’s important to know that the FAA does not require you to have an accredited degree to become a pilot. The FAA does require, however, that you complete two months of ground training and log at least 1500 hours in the air before you can receive a commercial pilot’s license. In this list, we’ll cover the top 5 degrees you might want to consider as you begin your journey to becoming a pilot – if you’re set on pursuing a degree.
1. Bachelor of Aviation
The most common type of higher education to pursue for aspiring pilots is a bachelor’s degree in aviation. Some higher education institutions offer this degree as part of a Bachelor of Science (BS) program, and others offer aviation education as part of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) program. Both cover everything you need to know to be a pilot.
Many Bachelor of Aviation programs award you with full commercial pilot certification upon completion. The vast majority of commercial airliners require that their pilots have a full four-year degree prior to training, and these applicants are viewed more favorably.
2. Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology
If you have experience as a military pilot or you’ve already spent time in the air in another setting, a BS in aviation technology is a good path to getting your wings. Aircraft maintenance will also comprise a significant portion of your coursework, and you’ll learn to operate aircraft systems.
Like a BA in aviation programs, pursuing a BS in aviation technology will provide you with everything you need to become a pilot.
3. Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
While a BS in aerospace engineering doesn’t directly prepare you for being a pilot, flight training programs and prospective employers will view your applications more favorably. A degree in this field will open up your potential career options more so than a BA or BS in aviation.
Completing a full aerospace engineering degree might be overkill if you just want to become a commercial pilot. If flying for an airline sounds like a good backup career while you aim higher, pursuing aerospace engineering could be a great educational path.
4. Bachelor of Aeronautical Science
As an undergraduate studying aeronautical science, you will learn how to construct entire aircraft along with the thousands of components that keep them airborne. Aeronautical science is not directly related to piloting an aircraft, but learning exactly how airplanes work and the components they contain gives you a unique skill set that other pilot applicants will lack.
Receiving a BS in aeronautics does not directly prepare you to become a pilot. After graduation, you’ll still need to put in hundreds of hours in training since this undergraduate program never physically puts you in the cockpit.
5. Bachelor of Science in Air Traffic Management
Earning your BS in air traffic management is necessary if your goal is to be an air traffic controller. This specialized career path requires significant aptitude and experience, but most air traffic management degrees only take four years to complete.
If you decide to switch careers and want to be a pilot, your background in aviation meteorology will be very useful.