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Pilots And Degrees  
User currently offlineIncubus From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2001, 78 posts, RR: 0
Posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 1365 times:

I've read in a couple of recent threads that major airlines will only consider recruiting pilots with college degrees. Why is this? Are they so small-minded that they think people without degrees are not capable, or are there so many applicants for so few places that they can afford to be elitist. Yes I do have a degree, but surely they should being judging on merit and technical proficiency first.

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineCaptcjmac From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 86 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 1323 times:

I dont think that the airlines are small minded, just think of it in their shoes. If you have two applicants that are basically equal in their piloting skills and one has a degree and the other doesnt, who wouldnt take the pilot with the degree. I think what is happening today is that even though it might not be required to have one, people are getting nervous that if they go for a job without one, then they might not get the job. I dont have a degree quite yet but I am halfway there!

Good luck to all!

User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3587 posts, RR: 44
Reply 2, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 1314 times:

>Are they so small-minded that they think people without degrees
>are not capable, or are there so many applicants for so few
>places that they can afford to be elitist.

Not elitist, but it sure makes it easy to eliminate candidates from consideration. AA receives more than 1,500 applications per month for the ~100 openings to be filled. Database of qualified candidates who have not been hired remains in the 15,000 - 20,000 range.

*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineTT737FO From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 472 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 1292 times:

I don't think the requirement to have a degree is elitist.

In fact, UAL is one US major that does not specifically require that its flight officer applicants possess college degrees.


Pilot training is like taking a drink from the proverbial fire hose. There are systems to learn, flows to memorize, procedures to explain, and daily tests/quizzes to take--and companies want to avoid the embarrassment and expense of candidate attrition.

A four year degree shows discipline and perserverance. The ability to earn a bachelors degree indicates that one has the fortitude and intelligence to make it through a rigorous regimen. A degree is simply evidence that past performance is an indicator of future success.

User currently offlineCatpac From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 236 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 1277 times:

Not only that guys, people with a degree have slightly broader knowlegde of what aviation is about. When I did my Diploma (CPL,...ME/IFR) I never studied aviation Psychology, or Accident Investigation,... like I am now while I am at UNI. University degrees go into far more detail than what the legal requirements specify...at the end of it all, it doesn't hurt if you know more than what FAA, CAA specifies...

Also, what happenes when I am older and if I loose my Class 1 certificate, with only my flight certificates I could almost go back to McDonald's days, while with a degree I can stay with the airline, but just wear a different uniform...

Regards guys and study hard,...it will pay off.

User currently offlineIncubus From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2001, 78 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 1253 times:

I guess things are a little different in the USA than they are in the UK then. I am acquainted with a number of pilots and they believe that their airlines are much more interested in ability than academic achievement. I agree that the perseverance required to complete a degree indicates certain abilities that the airlines may desire, but there are many people who'd love to fly but have chosen not to take a degree. This doesn't mean that they can't learn.
With the increasing cost of obtaining a degree (students are now being asked to contribute to their own tuition in the UK, something that has never happened before), it worries me that airlines who take the attitude that their pilots must have degrees are putting the profession into an elitist area.

User currently offlineTAA_Airbus From Australia, joined Nov 1999, 726 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1234 times:

Most airlines there days do not hire pilots, they hire managers, or very proffesional human beings who just happen to hold ATPLs, or whatever it is called in other countries other than Australia.

In all seriousness, anyone can fly a plane, its not hard.
In terms of aviation degrees, the content you must cover is exactly the same as what you would if you were doing basic diplomas or just self studying. However, the fact that you are bright enough to get into university and complete a degree says alot about the person. So generally, this is the reason why degrees are held in such high regard.
University degrees are univsersity degrees, they dont just hand them to you on a plate, you have to work hard for them, and even if the end result you know exactly the same amount as the average joe schmoe, it just says that you are more dilligent and self disciplined to make the effort to complete a degree.

Airlines want people who know there procedures. Flying the plane is the easy part.

A degree just helps promote the job applicant. The more things you have to promote yourself, the more chance you have to get a job.

User currently offlineDelta737 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 517 posts, RR: 10
Reply 7, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1236 times:

Well the degree you get doesn't really matter. I've flown with Forestry majors, Liberal Arts graduates and Geology majors... Then, of course, I've flown with captains that were doctors, lawyers and PhD's as well. Almost 100% of new hires at the majors have **at least** a four-year degree.

Personally, I think a college degree is a reasonable requirement for employment as a pilot. No matter what the flight schools tell you, this is an ultra-competitive career. An airline might hire 800 pilots in a brisk year, but there are probably 12,000-15,000 applications from qualified applicants on file for the 800 or so that are hired.

New hire ground school and any subsequent professional aviation training you do during your career is not like going down to the local FBO for private pilot ground school.

You need to have the ability to budget your time between aircraft systems, learning aircraft-specific manuevers for the simulator and finding a little time for an occasional meal. I've got about 60 pages of notes and a stack of flashcards 4-inches thick on the MD-88 and MD-90 systems and limitations.

If you can complete a four-year degree, the same study habits you used to earn that degree are absolutely fundamental skills that you'll need when you're in 757/767 ground school.

Like people said earlier, airline ground school (which is something everyone has to go through until they retire) is like trying to take a small sip from a fire hose of knowledge at full blast.

Unfortunately, it's more cost effective to have a fast-paced, high intensity training atmosphere for pilots and giving those that "fall through the cracks" extra training, because every minute you're not flying passengers, you're costing the corporation money.

Hope I helped!  Smile

Doug Taylor
Delta MD-90 FO

User currently offlineGoingboeing From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 4875 posts, RR: 15
Reply 8, posted (14 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 1206 times:

FWIW - perhaps the best pilot ever to fly any kind of aircraft was Chuck Yeager, who never finished high school.

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