Professional Pilot

Have you always dreamed of being a commercial pilot?

Henderson State University offers the state's only four-year program in aviation, including a degree option to become a professional pilot. We offer experienced faculty, flight instructors and 15 aircraft.  

We provide students the training and education necessary to prepare for a career in the professional aviation industry in the safest environment possible. 


A student who is well-prepared for this program has an interest in travel or in flying commercial or private planes.

Cost and return on tuition investment

Henderson State University's professional pilot program contains in-classroom coursework as well as flight training. The cost for in-class courses and flight training is the same as the university's normal tuition and fees. However, there are additional fees that accompany flight training to pay for fuel and other costs associated with these classes. A student who is dedicated to completing the flight training recommended by the Federal Aviation Association - and in the time period recommended - should plan to spend an additional $50,000 for this portion of the training. 

When they graduate our program, students are often asked back to become flight instructors for less-advanced students. For this experience, which is necessary to become a commercial pilot, they will earn between $22 and $28 per hour. We estimate that many of our students will become captains for regional airlines between the ages of 26 and 30, and in these positions they will earn between $65 and $102 per hour. Our students also have the option of participating in the Airline Pilot Pathway program, where their path to being a commercial pilot will be accelerated. Henderson State also has a contract with ExpressJet for our students to be hired for available positions as long as they meet qualifying requirements. When our students reach the top of their careers - as captains for major airlines - we expect that they will earn up to $254 per hour. 



Courses in the professional pilot program are focused in:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Flight simulation
  • Flight practice
  • Regulations
  • Aviation safety
  • Power plant theory
  • Air traffic control
  • Aircraft systems

Top careers

  • Regional pilot
  • Pilot for major airline
  • Private pilot

Related programs

Related information


Department of Aviation
HSU Box 7611
870-230-5012 phone
870-230-5005 fax