Those dreaming of a career in aviation could hardly be living at a better time right now. Today, aviation is a thriving industry that's growing all the time, and well-trained flight personnel are in high demand. A college degree isn't necessarily required to become a pilot, as there are other paths to a career in the air, but like any other profession, those with a degree will be given preference. An associate's degree in aviation flight technology is the first step. Luckily there's no lack of aviation schools in the U.S., offering flight training from basic to Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) level.
Many Exciting Opportunities
Most students entering flight training at aviation colleges plan on becoming a pilot for the airlines, but there are many other opportunities for trained airmen. Cargo transport, air taxi and air ambulance, search and rescue, pipeline and power line inspection, sightseeing tours, banner towing, crop dusting, and flight instruction are all lucrative and rewarding careers that can be realized with an associate's degree in aviation. Flight instruction is the traditional gateway into these other opportunities and is a place to earn money while gaining the flying hours and experience needed to be attractive to potential employers.
A Demanding Course Of Study
Flight training at one of the nation's aviation schools towards an associate's degree isn't easy. A student must first earn a private pilot's certificate, which requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, both with an instructor and solo, and then learn to fly by instruments alone to earn the instrument rating. Then they'll work on their commercial license, which will allow them to carry passengers for hire.
After that, most will choose to earn their Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating, and then multi-engine instrument, and eventually the ATP rating, although it's not essential for many pilot careers. Students must do all of this while taking the usual required courses in English, math, science, etc. It's demanding and requires discipline and determination.
A Bright And Rewarding Future
The future looks good for airline and commercial pilots. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for pilots was over $102,000 in 2015, and jobs were expected to grow by 5% through 2024. It should be noted that this doesn't take into account opportunities in flying drones, a field that's just beginning to take off.
An associate's degree from one of the many aviation schools in America is a ticket to a great career.