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Pros and Cons Of Aviation Degree Programs

Pros and Cons Of Aviation Degree ProgramsFor an airplane pilot, education takes many forms, including applied instruction, a high school diploma, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and specialized training. FAA also requires pilots to accumulate a lot of real-world knowledge in the form of flight-hours. Acquiring all this takes years — how many depends on the kind of pilot a person becomes.
To begin flight lessons, a high-school diploma is not required. The requirements are age (usually 18) and ability to read, write and speak English. Private lessons with flight school provide students with initial flight education. If the intention  is recreational flying, the education and training can end by passing the test for a recreational certificate. Most pilots continue on, since the recreational certificate has many restrictions, including no passengers, no night flights and no ability to earn money for flight services.

Learning to fly requires that you obtain the ability to manipulate the controls of the airplane and make it perform certain maneuvers. However, there is another aspect of learning to fly, and that is the academic knowledge required to understand how, where, and when to fly safely. This is accomplished in aviation ground school.

Ground school takes two basic forms: an instructor teaching a scheduled class or a self-paced, home-study program using video or audiotapes and/or a computer-based program.

Which is better depends on you. If you’re a self-disciplined self-starter, the self-paced video programs can’t be beat. You can attend ground school on your schedule and review the tapes as needed. If you need the discipline of the classroom, well, the choice is obvious. Perhaps the best option is a combination of the two. Many flight schools have a traditional classroom ground school and a resource room that contains self-paced materials for additional study.

The FAA requires professional pilots to hold certain certificates and ratings. Ratings prove pilots have proficiency in specialized skills. Pilots test for certificates according to education, experience and training. Professional pilots need at least a commercial pilot certificate, an instrument rating — the pilot can fly using instruments alone — and a multi-engine rating, allowing pilots to fly aircraft other than single-engine planes. Military or flight schools provide the necessary instruction. In flight school, beginners can earn minimum professional credentials in 10 months to two years, according to AvScholars.

Most professional pilot jobs will require an aviation degree. Jobs requiring only a high school diploma include flight instructor, ferry pilot and agricultural pilot. Jobs preferring college include test and charter pilots. Jobs at regional and major airlines almost always demand a bachelor’s degree. Instead of earning a degree separately from flight school, would-be pilots can attend a community college or university that offers flight training for college credit.

Your Decision To Attend Aviation College Depends On Your Goals and What Type of Pilot You Want to Be

When it comes to any career hurried decisions can have negative consequences. Pilots rely on checklists to make a safe flight. The same goes for choosing a flight school or aviation college to attend. Listed below are pros and cons of attending an aviation college.

Pros
  • Top-Notch Instruction: Aviation universities hire only the most qualified professors and instructors. These instructors are aviation experts. You’d likely have retired airline pilots, aviation mechanics and real, honest-to-goodness experts teaching you. Aviation is their specialty, and they tend to teach it well.
  • Strict Standards: Accredited universities have very high standards that they must meet or exceed. On top of the FAA’s standards for flight instruction, these schools have to meet their accreditation guidelines.
  • State of the Art Equipment: You’ll find the best airplanes and simulators at universities that specialize in aviation. The airplanes will probably be brand new, with the latest on-board technologies, like GPS and ADS-B installed. These aircraft will also be very well maintained. Most flight departments at universities take a very conservative approach to maintenance with frequent inspections.
  • Like-Minded Peers: One of the major benefits to an university flight program is that you are completely immersed in aviation. You will likely have roommates that understand flying, and these roommates are good for studying with, learning from and collaborating with during flight training. Studying for checkrides is much easier when you have four or five or twenty other people to bounce questions off of.
  • Networking: The aviation industry is a relatively small one, and being at an aviation university will help you make contacts you’ll need to get a job. Professors, flight instructors and fellow peers will all be immersed in aviation and many following career paths to the airlines. These people can be very important connections to have when it comes time to find a job.
  • Internships: The coveted airline internships are difficult to get, but the idea becomes more attainable if you’re attending an aviation university. Airline representatives like to scope out aviation universities for intern candidates. They usually offer interviews on campus for internships, an opportunity that you’d miss out on if you didn’t attend an aviation university. Today’s internships are competitive, and it helps to have connections and a good aviation education if you want to intern with an airline.
  • Career Placement: Many airlines partner with aviation universities to offer graduates hiring preference, or at least a guaranteed interview. Some airlines even lower their requirements for pilots coming out of an aviation university, since they can assume that the student was very well trained in things like advanced flight operations, aerodynamics, air navigation, jet engines and meteorology.
Cons
  • Cost: By far, the most complained about topic involving aviation universities is the cost. Tuition can be anywhere from $30,000 to $130,000 per year, and this doesn’t always include the cost of flying.
  • No Back-Up Plan: While it’s a good thing to have goals and want to work toward them, it’s also a good thing to have a back-up plan. Getting a degree in flight will only help you if you do, actually, become employable as a pilot.
  • Not only is it a tough industry as far as hiring goes, but what happens if you become disqualified or un-hirable at some point? This can happen if you are denied an aviation medical certificate, happen upon a felony or misdemeanor or just fail too many checkrides. It’s a risky business, and many people recommend spending your time and money on a more versatile degree, like business management, before they venture into aviation.
  • Less Flexible Schedule: Universities are getting better at accommodating non-traditional students, but the majority of aviation university students are still required to attend classes in person, during regular business hours. It’s not quite as flexible as flying at your local airport whenever you want to. At a university flight department, your schedule is put together by a scheduling department for you, and there may be fees if you can’t make it to a flight.
  • Strict Flying Rules: The university flight department and its insurance company will mandate the rules for flying, and they are usually extremely cautious. Instructors and management pilots are meticulous about details, which makes for a safe environment with no room for error. There are standards and procedures for everything, which can take some of the fun out of flying for some.
Aviator College Degree Program

2 year Associates Degree Program

The Aeronautical Science Program prepares the graduate for a career in the aviation industry by providing a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, aeronautical sciences, aeronautical technology, and the aviation industry. The graduate will receive an Associate of Science Degree from Aviator College with flight ratings from private pilot through commercial, with Flight Instructor ratings. This training is necessary to obtain employment, and by completing the associate’s degree you will set yourself apart from other applicants since a degree is preferred in the airline industry.

The flight portion of the program consists of a minimum of 565 flight hours and more multi-engine time than any other college or flight school today. Our large multi-engine fleet is equipped with Garmin 430s, and ASPEN EFIS is being introduced. Single engine fleet consists of Piper Warrior III with all glass (EFIS systems). Ground school is taught in a classroom environment.

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