Recently, I was wondering if I could directly go to an aviation school after I'm 18 to pursue my career as a pilot. But, asking some people I was told that I would need some sort of an engineering degree or there would be little to no growth in my career.

So, I have the following questions:

  1. Will having a degree help me get a better career and a good growth?
  2. Will not having a degree affect me/ my career?
  3. Do airlines give priorities to pilots with degrees?
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ in which country? for which company? I never heard of such requirement, but I also don't know every single legislation/company policy $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Commented May 2 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico In India and for any airline eg Indigo. Does it impact us? My friends told that we may just be flight engineers or stuff like that without a degree and wont be actually flying planes... I did check sources but im not sure $\endgroup$ Commented May 2 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ A degree would definitely help you become an engineer $\endgroup$
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 2 at 10:27

1 Answer 1


A college degree or specifically an engineering one is not a legal requirement to become an airline pilot in any country that I know of. For military pilots, it's required, since pilot billets are normally commissioned officers, and officers in most countries need a college degree, with some exceptions. Test pilots undergo education that covers key parts of an AE degree.

Modern airliners are extremely complex, filled with dozens of distinct systems with different redundancy implementations. Most of the pilot's job is managing these systems, not just the flight controls. An engineering degree, especially one in aerospace engineering, can be very helpful in diagnosing and resolving issues with the plane.

According to statistics, only 4% of airline pilots don't have at least an Associate's degree:

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It's legal to hire pilots without a degree. But if there is any competition for pilot positions, an engineering degree is a clear advantage. From what I've heard, in India it's a de-facto requirement - there's enough candidates with a degree to skip over ones without it. Furthermore, for India, it's recommended to have a degree specifically in aerospace engineering, aviation, or aviation management. Out of these, aerospace engineering is by far the most relevant to a flying job, as it specifically deals with system design and behavior.

In other countries, where there's a shortage of pilots or candidates, a degree isn't quite as obligatory. AE is still worth pursuing early on if you have the means, as it's a high-effort degree that will be very hard to fit into an airline's schedule later, and it carries more cachet than just any degree.

  • $\begingroup$ Does that mean that a Bsc.Aviation is ok? Because after seeing what we are thought in it, it does not seem very useful... $\endgroup$ Commented May 2 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ @SambhavKhandelwal I'm not sure. In the West, aerospace engineering is normally the best aviation-related degree - but I'm not closely familiar with this particular degree. B.Sc in aviation appears to be a generic and somewhat watered-down mix of engineering, flying, and business knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Commented May 2 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ In my experience, test pilots seldom have aerospace engineeering degrees. Attending test pilot school is considered a graduate degree (like a Masters) by the military. There is lots of aerospace engineering required (and an AE background would be a strong benefit), but your 'average' TPS class has many non-AE members. In general, the military seldom matches degree area with job function for uniformed officers. They favor breadth over depth. When they need career technical experts (that do one thing for 25-30 years), they use civilians. $\endgroup$ Commented May 2 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @RobMcDonald Hmm, perhaps you're right, I've been going off a small sample of a few names and not the real thing. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Commented May 2 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Therac No worries -- it is a small detail. Certainly to be a military pilot (except an Army Warrant Officer) you need a college degree (to be a commissioned officer). Past that, options are pretty open. In the civilian world, there is no such restriction, but a college degree will help. An engineering degree is not required to be an airline pilot. $\endgroup$ Commented May 2 at 17:22

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