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An Aims professional pilot student engaged in flight practice in an airplane

Professional Pilot

Mission Statement

Empowering students to become successful aviation professionals.

Earn a Professional Pilot Associate Degree at Aims

Are you fascinated by the traveling lifestyle of a commercial airline pilot? If you have dreamed of piloting jet airliners, a pilot associate degree from Aims can help you achieve that goal. In fact, you can experience a solo flight in your first semester of classes. 

Master the technical and personal skills required to pilot commercial airliners as well as corporate and fractional flights with the professional pilot degree program at Aims.

In this degree program, you will earn certificates for private and commercial flight as well as instrument and multi-engine rating – all in two years.

This degree is designed for people who want to go out there and pursue serious careers as pilots in the industry. Graduates of these programs become cargo pilots, corporate pilots, and, most commonly, airline pilots.

Alex Wernsman
Chief Flight Instructor
Alex Wernsman, chief flight instructor at Aims, poses for a portrait next to an Aims Community College aircraft.

The Aims professional pilot degree program gives you access to the following:

  • A fleet of state-of-the-art aircraft to learn on, all built-in or after 2017
  • Simulators that perfectly match the training aircraft, providing a seamless transition
  • Educational standards that meet FAA Part 141 guidelines
  • One-on-one instruction from experienced pilots
  • Earn approximately 250 hours of flight time

If you are interested in flying small commercial and personal airplanes, Aims also offers a general aviation pilot degree.

Learn on State-of-the-Art Simulators

Aims Degree Video - Aviation - Professional Pilot

Alex Wernsman, the chief flight instructor at Aims, describes the hands-on learning opportunities and state-of-the-art technology you’ll find in the professional pilot program at Aims.

Gain Aviation and Professional Skills

Most dedicated students in this program can build the skills and confidence to earn a professional pilot’s license. As you learn on state-of-the-art, highly realistic simulators, you’ll develop a wide range of skills that you can immediately apply to flying a real plane. These include hands-on control, muscle memory, familiarity with instruments, and thinking clearly under pressure. 

As you progress through the Aims professional pilot degree you will also learn these skills required by the FAA:

  • Private flying by sight
  • Reading and reacting to flight instruments
  • Flying by instrument in adverse weather conditions
  • Operating multi-engine commercial aircraft

Aims is invested in helping you prepare for FAA written and practical exams, which require an 80% pass rate for students of this aviation program. The associate of applied science degree includes courses in communication and professionalism that enhance any career.

Start With a Discovery Flight

Want to get a taste of what it’s like to fly an airplane? Take a disovery flight and experience for yourself what the Aims aviation programs have to offer. For $75, you can spend 20 minutes in the cockpit of a state-of-the-art aircraft with an Aims instructor and see if you’re ready to take your interest in aviation to the next level. Discovery flights are limited to one per person. 

To book a flight: 

  1. Pay for your Discovery Flight here
  2. Then call the Aims Flight Training Center at (970) 339-6355 to schedule your discovery flight.

Careers for Professional Pilots

Professional Pilot - Student Testimonial - Rudy Aist

Watch Aims graduate Rudy Aist talk about his time at Aims Community College and his journey through the Aviation program.

Boeing estimates that the aviation industry will need over 700,000 new pilots worldwide in the next two decades. Even with this shortage, aviation is a highly competitive field with exceptionally high standards.

This aviation degree program involves rigorous one-on-one testing that helps you hone your skills while also developing your job interview skills. When you graduate from Aims, you’ll have industry-ready skills from current simulators and training flights. You’ll also gain the credibility that comes with an aviation program that has produced excellent pilots for over 50 years. You might even decide to become a flight instructor at Aims like other faculty members who are Aims graduates.

7,700 jobs over next 5 years Bureau of Labor and Statistics
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$175,383 - $185,995 average salary Bureau of Labor and Statistics

The path to piloting airlines typically goes as follows:

  • Obtain your Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates and ratings. The usual sequence is:
  • Private Pilot Certificate
  • Instrument Rating
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • Multi-Engine Rating
  • Build your flight time hours. Many pilots choose to become flight instructors to build their total flight time.
  • Build professional experience at a regional airline flying turbo-prop and/or regional jet aircraft. When the supply of pilots is high, airlines will use college degrees (A.A.S. or B.S., etc) as a decisive factor.
  • Accrue enough flight time and professional experience to apply to the major carriers.

Other potential career pathways for professional pilots include opportunities in:

  • Fractional flight (piloting private airplanes with multiple owners)
  • Large cargo flight (large shipping companies)
  • Flight instruction