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Delta Airlines Removes College Degree Requirement for Pilots

Delta airlines has announced that it is removing the requirement that its pilot candidates have a four-year college degree. It is now “preferred”.

The Atlanta-based carrier becomes the last major U.S. airline to remove the college degree requirement. It joins other major airlines like Southwest, United and American Airlines that don’t require their pilots to hold a degree.

“After a comprehensive review of our pilot hiring requirements, Delta will now prefer a four-year college degree for first officer candidates — rather than require — effective Jan. 1, 2022,” Delta said in a statement. “Making the four-year degree requirement preferred removes unintentional barriers to those seeking a pilot career at Delta, especially those that have gained an equivalency through other operational and leadership experience.”

This decision from Delta comes as many airlines are encountering shortages in pilots that’s expected to increase in the coming years. Delta noted that it’s not currently having difficulties filling its new-hire classes.

The cost of flight training to become a pilot for the airlines is somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000. This is comparable to the cost of a four-year college education.

Once the initial training is done, pilots have to “build time” to get the rating that is required for airline jobs. To get hired by Delta or any other “mainline” carrier, 1,500 hours are required. Many pilots decide that they’d rather postpone or forego a college education in order to train and build time after they graduate from high school.

Delta’s move has been positively received by aspiring pilots and those in the aviation community. Many have said that this change in requirements opens the door for qualified candidates who couldn’t afford a college education.