The High School Classes You Should Take To Become A Commercial Airline Pilot

There are a couple of routes you can take if you wish to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot. While you may be a few years away from attending college or joining the military—the two main routes to earning your pilot's certification—there are some classes you can take at the high school level to help your chances of success.


Airline pilots need a strong understanding of physics in order to guide the aircraft safely to each destination. You can learn principles such as velocity, thrust, atmospheric conditions, and weather, as well as the fundamentals of drag and lift. These classes can prepare you for flight school and the mechanics of the aircraft itself and how flight works.

Math Classes

Math is essential to learn when becoming an airline pilot simply due to the abundance in which it is used. You will need to calculate your aircraft's fuel needs, the weight capacity for passengers, or if you are flying cargo, how much weight your airplane can take. You will need to know how to make calculations for speed and elevation and flight coordinates. While basic math classes are essential, it is advised to take classes in algebra, calculus, and trigonometry as well.

Geography Classes

You might think that taking geography in high school isn't a necessary part of becoming a pilot, but in fact it is one of the more helpful classes you could take. You need a good understanding of geography and even topography in order to navigate difficult terrain when you aren't flying at cruising altitude. You need a good education in mountain ranges, lake locations and oceans sizes and depths. You can also begin to learn industry-specific language in relation to geography that will help you in future lessons.


While usually not a mandatory class to take in high school, it is a good idea to learn the basics of programming and how a computer actually works. This can help you better understand an aircraft's navigational system, learn the more advanced computing languages, and better understand how to program coordinates into your airplane's computers.


English classes are usually a mandatory part of high school life, but this subject can prove more important than you might think. It is vital to learn how to communicate well and spell correctly when writing reports, speaking with co-workers and air traffic controllers. An English class can help you strengthen your vocabulary, learn grammar, and learn how to come across as more professional in the workplace.  

For more information, contact an aviation college like the Institute of Aviation at Parkland College.