What Should I Study at School to Become an Airline Pilot?

What subjects should you study in school to become a pilot?

To become a commercial airline pilot, almost all airlines require you to have at least 5 grade A to C (or equivalent) GCSEs, including maths, English and science. In school, try to work hard in all subjects, but especially in these three main areas. These are the minimum qualifications you should aim to achieve.

Outside of the core areas of math, science, and English, your choice of subjects at secondary school level doesn’t matter too much. Geography is likely to be a good fit for obvious reasons, but even subjects like music or art are likely to help you become the well-rounded individual the airlines are looking for.

Ideas for extracurricular activities for future pilots

While you’re in high school or equivalent education, there are a number of extracurricular activities you can take part in that will help you develop the skills and attitude you need to become a pilot. It will also help you make sure your resume stands out from the competition. Airline recruiters like to see someone who has been actively involved in activities beyond just showing up for school. These include:

Air Training Corps (Air Cadets) / Army / Navy Cadets – Join your local chapter Air Training Corps (ATC) or other armed forces cadets is a big positive and you will find that many pilots were once part of this organization. This will help you develop a set of skills that are highly transferable to the commercial pilot role, such as improving your leadership, teamwork and communication skills. It will also give you the chance to try flying for free to give you a taste of what flying an airplane is really like.

Sports Teams – Get involved with a local school or sports team. This demonstrates the ability to work as part of a team and build social relationships, thereby improving communication skills.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DoE) – This covers a range of skills and attributes many of which are transferable to a successful flight training and career as a pilot. Airline recruiters love it!

Pathfinders – a team organization that participates in adventure exercises, etc. You can join at a young age before moving on to the Air Training Corps.

What should I study at A-Levels/Higher Education if I want to become a pilot?

Some airlines also require you to hold A levels or higher education equivalent. Whichever airline you wish to apply to, we recommend that you complete your A-Levels, as most of the people you compete with hold such qualifications and you will be too young to apply for one. cadet program at the end. of your GCSEs. It also gives you the opportunity to gain valuable life experience, such as having a part-time job while studying.

We suggest you choose a few strong core subjects for your A/Higher Education levels, such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry, English and Geography. Not only do these topics look good on paper, but they will provide you with a solid theoretical foundation from which to continue and complete the theoretical aspect of your flight training, which is heavily science and math based. .

It’s fine to choose other topics as well, airlines are looking for well-rounded individuals, but a few basic topics are probably a good idea.

You should aim to achieve at least a C grade in all your A-level subjects.

While in graduate school/A-Levels, try to stay involved in the extracurricular activities outlined above.


The decision whether or not to go to university is not easy. There are pros and cons to either option which are discussed on our dedicated page.

In the end, you could start your very expensive flight training having already racked up £/€30,000 in debt if you live in a country where you pay to go to university. As pilots earn high salaries, you will almost certainly have to pay off all that debt and it will add up to a good chunk of your paycheck! Since you can start your flight training without a degree, is the extra debt and potential lost earnings worth it?

On the other side of the argument, if it all goes wrong, like losing your medical pilot or getting fired (due to something like the Covid-19 pandemic), if you already have a degree at least you have something to lean on to help you find a job outside the aviation industry.