Flight Training After High School
As summer looms the hearts and minds of high school students across the land become hopeful, nervous, joyous, and concerned. The culmination of their mandatory educational journey is coming to an end, but the adult world lurks just beyond graduation.
What to do? What to do?
Many will attempt to delay the inevitable by enrolling in a four-year college program. Continuing education is a worthy goal, provided it benefits the student in some material way. Degree programs that focus on engineering, or accounting, have real value. Others, less so.
The point of higher education is to prepare the student/customer to achieve greater earning power in the working world. This leads to an improved quality of life. That has value. If the educational path doesn’t directly benefit the student/customer financially, that education is of dubious value.
One educational opportunity that achieves that goal well is flight school.
Aviation has become an integral part of the world economy. Becoming a pilot, a critical position that is in high demand and will continue to be for years to come, is well within the capability of most young men and women graduating high school. Yet few pursue this lucrative and highly appealing career opportunity until they’ve spent years engaged in other pursuits.
The requirements to become a commercial pilot are not as daunting as you may have imagined. The FAA lists a short series of specific requirements which include…
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English.
- Complete a specific training program.
- Pass a knowledge test (written test).
- Complete and log at least 250 hours of flight time.
- Pass a practical test (oral exam and flight check).
None of these requirements are beyond the capability of the average high school graduate. Best of all, the entire course of training and testing can be accomplished in a year or less. Literally, within a matter of months a new high school graduate can establish themselves in a career as a professional pilot.
Consider this incentive. Airline pilots are famously well paid. In 2023 the median wage for pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers was over $200,000. Starting pay is on the low end of the scale, while pilots with years of experience can earn considerably more than the median. The earlier that career starts, the longer the pilot is in the system earning their way toward the top pay scale. Starting the process straight out of high school, four years earlier than their college bound peers, opens a pilot up to an additional four years of the top pay scale before mandatory retirement kicks in at age 65.
That additional four years of income could easily top $1,000,000.
Is it possible to get into flight training straight out of high school? Absolutely! Three years out of high school, as your former classmates are finishing up summer break to head back for their senior year of college, the students who took the flight training route may find themselves behind the controls of a commercial airliner, already earning a salary their former classmates can only hope to earn someday.