Fast Facts

Being a commercial pilot is a job many dream of but think is beyond their reach. You can become a commercial pilot at Henderson State University. Henderson State is the only college in the state of Arkansas where you can obtain your commercial pilot certificate while simultaneously earning your Bachelor of Science degree. Henderson State's Department of Aviation also has Restricted-Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP) certification authority from the FAA. This certification allows our graduates, that follow the R-ATP curriculum, to become an airline pilot in two-thirds of the time otherwise required.

Thanks to the quality of our graduates, along with the stellar track record of our graduates getting airline jobs, our students can work on becoming an airline pilot sooner if they can elect to participate in ExpressJet's Airline Pilot Pathway Program (also referred to as AP3).

How much money will I make as a pilot?

Below is a generic career timeline for Henderson State's professional pilot students that fly for the airlines.  The age range depicted is the typical starting time at that position for a traditional student. The wage range depicts the beginning wage to top-out wage, based on the time employed with the company.

Age 21 to 22, Flight Instructor, 22 to 28 dollars an hour; Age 23 to 26, First Officer Regional Airlines, 23 to 43 dollars an hour; Age 26 to 30, Captain Regional Airlines, 65 to 102 dollars and hour; Age 32 to 35, First Officer Major Airlines, 66 to 139 dollars an hour; Age 42 to 45, Captain Major Airlines, 187 to 254 dollars per hour; Age 65, retire from major airline, 254 dollars per hour


We hire most of our flight instructors from our graduates, and even hire some before they graduate. We also have a signed agreement with ExpressJet Airlines to hire our graduates as airline pilots, so long as there are positions available along with other qualifying requirements. Plus, Boeing Industries projects a large growth in aviation for the next 20 years, resulting in a pilot shortage.  Getting a job as a pilot has never been easier!

Our students can start flying their first week on campus and work as a commercial pilot and/or flight instructor before they graduate. Plus working for an airline doesn't mean you have to move away from your hometown. Many Arkansans live in Arkansas, drive to the airport and jump-seat (commute) to their home base on an airplane just like a passenger, but without having to buy a ticket.


Airlines are not the only way to fly. Not only do our graduates go on to fly for airlines, they also fly in corporate flight departments, the military as well as in the agriculture/forestry industry.

Not only is it a rewarding job, but most airlines offer nice travel benefits to you and your family.

Some of our graduates pursue flying in all branches of the military while other graduates fly for corporate entities like Tyson, Stephens, Wal-Mart, and even the Dallas Cowboys.

Our flight training conforms to the FAA minimums, but it also goes beyond those minimums and gives you all the training necessary to get you the job. It works, and it works well - just ask our alumni.

Discovery flight

If you have dreamed of becoming a pilot, but feel that it is beyond your reach, please come visit us and try it out for yourself. A Discovery Flight only costs $98 and is the best way to experience flying first hand to ensure being a pilot is the career path for you. By scheduling your Discovery Flight, you are paired with one of our incredible flight instructors and taken on an introductory flight. During this thirty minute flight, you will actually take the controls and get a taste of what flying is all about. To schedule your Discovery Flight, please call 879-230-5584.

Aviation is more than flying

Henderson State offers an aviation management track as well. We provide the education not only to students that want to fly, but also to manage the airports they serve, or manage the fleet they fly. Our faculty and staff have wide ranging experience in aviation to help you choose which program is right for you. We also offer a minor in aviation, which gives an overview of the field with such courses as Aviation Safety, Aircraft Systems Theory, Aviation Legislation and other elective courses you can select.

Committed to aviation education

This commitment is shown by our investment in the $3.5 million James T. Caplinger Airway Science Academic Center, equipped with high tech classrooms, computerized testing for FAA and other exams, three flight simulators - including a Redbird FMX with full motion - and over $2 million worth of aircraft. We have 17 aircraft in our fleet; some of which are equipped with "glass" cockpits, which means our students not only train with the latest, most modern equipment, but that there is always aircraft time allocated to each aviation student.