Aims Aviation
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Professional Pilot Option

Associate of Applied Science Degree

The Professional Pilot Option is designed for those seeking a career as an airline pilot. Students interested in corporate or fractional flying careers may also want to choose the Professional Pilot Option. The curricula include Private, Commercial, and Flight Instructor Certificates and Instrument Rating.

How to become an airline pilot

  • Obtain your Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates and ratings. The usual sequence is:
    • Private Pilot Certificate
    • Instrument Rating
    • Commercial Pilot Certificate
    • Multi-Engine Rating
  • Airlines hire pilots based on the applicant's total flight time. Most pilots will have about 260 flight hours upon completion of the program. When the supply of pilots is low compared to hiring needs, the airlines will require a lower number of minimum flight hours; when the supply of pilots is high compared to hiring needs, the airlines will require a higher number of minimum flight hours.
  • When the supply of pilots is high, airlines will use college degrees (A.A.S. or B.S., etc) as a decisive factor.
  • Many pilots choose to become flight instructors to build their total flight time up to the hiring flight-time minimums
  • Your first airline job will be at a regional airline flying turbo-prop and/or regional jet aircraft
  • Eventually you will have accrued enough flight time to apply to the major carriers such as American, Continental, Delta, United, or US Airways

Life style and qualifications

A professional pilot must also consider the lifestyle and airline qualifications when choosing a career path.

  • Airlines operate 24/7
  • Pilots bid their flight schedule and domicile (home base) by seniority
  • Pilots are away from home about 16 days per month, more if they commute to their domicile
  • Pilots receive recurrent training and check-rides on a regular basis
  • Extensive background checks, including driving records, are conducted prior to an employment offer
  • Airline pilots must hold a First Class Medical Certificate, requalification is required every six months
  • Must be able to read, speak, and understand the English language (meet International Civil Aviation Organization level 4 standards)
  • Pilots are subject to pre-employment, random, and "for cause drug screening
  • Current FAA regulations require pilots to retire from the cockpit at age 65

Salary range* (per month)

Small regional: Salary

First year, First Officer

$1,200 - 2,320

First year, Captain

$2,475 - 5,680

Twelfth year, Captain

$3,600 - 8,080
Large regional Salary

First year, First Officer

$1,444 - 2,870

First year, Captain

$4,270 - 4,800

Twelfth year, Captain

$6,375 - 7,910
Major Carrier Salary

First year, First Officer

$1,800 - 4,056

First year, Captain

$1,800 - 13,572

Twelfth year, Captain

$11,400 - 15,444

*Note: Some employers pay relocation/hiring and other types of bonuses

Course of Study

Estimated Costs


In District




College tuition and fees*

$ 8,585




Flight-training lab fees*





Approximate total costs for program:





*Costs subject to change at any time.
*Flight costs based on FAA minimum flight hours.  Individual students may require additional flight hours.
*Costs may vary with choice of electives.