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Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:10 am

Hello

I was wondering, did airlines always require pilots to have at least a bachelors degree.
 
cbphoto
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Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:05 am

Not at all for the most part. Maybe a few airlines required it, but it generally was not an industry wide requirement. It was only a recent addition (last decade or so) when the market was saturated with pilots and was used as a tool for the majors to sift through the thousands of applications. As the regional pilot pool dries up, I would suspect that in the near future that degree requirement might go away as well.
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johns624
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Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:34 am

NW didn't have a degree requirement.
 
modesto2
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Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:03 am

Keep in mind that although some airlines don't explicitly require a college degree, it would be very difficult to get hired without one. As another poster mentioned, it's an easy way for the airlines to filter applicants.
 
ACDC8
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Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:07 am

I know several pilots who fly for AC and WS who don't have one.
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Flighty
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Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:05 am

One might argue that as airplanes only get more "cerebral" and systems rich, a pilot has to employ some analysis skills that a college degree might help to train them for. But by and large, the profession does pretty well with on-the-job training and competency checks. There are many smart and effective people who didn't collect a degree, but became educated in other ways.
 
XFSUgimpLB41X
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:00 am

Quoting cbphoto (Reply 1):
Not at all for the most part. Maybe a few airlines required it, but it generally was not an industry wide requirement. It was only a recent addition (last decade or so) when the market was saturated with pilots and was used as a tool for the majors to sift through the thousands of applications. As the regional pilot pool dries up, I would suspect that in the near future that degree requirement might go away as well.

Wrong.

For higher tier jobs, it has been required for the last 50+ years for 99+% of hires.

Regionals and nationals, not as much so.

Get the degree.
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mmo
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:27 am

Quoting johns624 (Reply 2):

NW didn't have a degree requirement.

NW DID have a college degree requirement. I was hired in the early 80s and there was certainly a 4 year college degree requirement. That requirement was in place the entire time hiring was going on.
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flyingturtle
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:21 am

I've heard from several sources that in the old days (+40 years ago) Swissair required a degree from the Federal Institute of Technology in order to be enrolled into the pilot program - a maths, engineering or science degree. Swissair didn't complain, they had were prestigious enough to have lots of applicants at any time.


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Starlionblue
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:37 am

At my airline, passes in all EASA ATPL subjects or high marks in science and maths from high school are alternatives to the college degree requirement.

Having said that, get the degree. Make it in something you can use if the pilot thing doesn't pan out.
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blacksoviet
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:20 pm

Do you have to understand algebra in order to get a college degree? What about geometry?
 
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jfklganyc
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:24 pm

TWA did not have a requirement. I think they were the only major that didnt require it in the late 90s
 
BestWestern
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:25 pm

Does Trump university count?
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falstaff
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:27 pm

Quoting blacksoviet (Reply 10):
Do you have to understand algebra in order to get a college degree?

No.... I have a BS in Automotive Technology and I never took Algebra after high school and I got a D- in it.
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longhauler
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:31 pm

It's all supply and demand.

When there was a huge excess of pilot applicants, a University Degree or Aviation College certificate was just another way of moving candicates up and down the list. In other words when you have say 20 times as many applicants as jobs, it was one of many attributes used to stack the list.

In my opinion though, and being in pilot training for over a decade ... a university graduate is no more capable of flying a jet transport aircraft than a high school graduate. Today's aircraft are very complex, but not so complex that it is a detriment .... and, EASIER to figure out than the myFord Touch system of my new F150!

At the end of hiring sprees in the past, the pilot qualifications of those hired can get pretty slim. I chuckle when I recently talked with one of our Triple Captains, that said he was hired in the 1980s with about 200 hours total time!
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Woodreau
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:34 pm

It's not that hard to get the college degree box checked to fulfill that hiring requirement.

Embry-Riddle will gladly charge you an arm and a leg and your first born to get you an aeronautical science degree (a useless degree IMO) but you could find more useful and cost effective ways to get it checked off.


OP you can use that GI Bill benefit that you earned while you were in the Navy to get the degree if you don't have one and jump on in if thats what you want to do. If you were a snipe or an aviation mechanic, you should have no problems learning about aircraft systems and how they all work together.

But does the day-to-day job anything from getting my degree. - nope, about the only thing I use from the college days to do my job is being able to divide by 3. Everything else I use I learned in kindergarden - how to relate and work with other people - playing nice on the playground - and if something's not right, fixing the problem.

[Edited 2016-06-08 06:41:09]
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FlyingSicilian
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:59 pm

Also for a long time in the US many pilots came from the military, and to be a commissioned officer in the Air Force or Navy one must have a college degree, so for the last few decades non-mil hires were competing with those that did/do.
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FlyHossD
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:00 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 14):
It's all supply and demand.

When there was a huge excess of pilot applicants, a University Degree or Aviation College certificate was just another way of moving candicates up and down the list. In other words when you have say 20 times as many applicants as jobs, it was one of many attributes used to stack the list.

Well said.

The commuter airline that I started at also strongly preferred pilot applicants with a bachelors degree and nearly every new hire pilot had one. Come to think of it, their hiring qualifications then - with a huge surplus of pilots - were higher than major U.S. airlines are asking for now.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
reltney
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:53 pm

Quoting FlyingSicilian (Reply 16):

Not actually true. The air national guard ANG requires you to complete a degree within 10 years of the commission to 2lt. It is often overlooked as my F-16 commander had yet to complete his degree but has been in 23 years as a pilot. I have flown with many other air force (ang) pilots who don't have degrees. My college room mate was a F-106 pilot in 1985 with the Montana ANG and was working on a degree with me at parks college. He transitioned to the viper(16) and a year later finished his degree. Just an odd bit of trivia.

My father retired from Delta Air Lines in 1989 with 34 years as a pilot and still doesn't have a degree. He is still instructing yet has never had one day of college.

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airtran737
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:54 pm

Quoting blacksoviet (Reply 10):
Do you have to understand algebra in order to get a college degree? What about geometry?

No. Airlines don't care what your degree is in. All they care is that you have a piece of paper that demonstrates that you are capable of higher learning.
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badgervor
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:19 pm

Quoting airtran737 (Reply 19):
No. Airlines don't care what your degree is in. All they care is that you have a piece of paper that demonstrates that you are capable of higher learning.

I second that. I knew a pilot who had a degree in soil science
 
a380787
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:22 pm

I don't even know how relevant it really is. My fiancee is a 77W Relief Pilot (half step between Captain and FO) at a Skyteam airline but got a Bachelors degree in classical music performance ... go figure =)
 
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ThrottleHold
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:32 pm

I left school at 18, now 17 years flying, all of it multi jet since 200 hours. Was a 777 Captain at 32 and now a TRI and Line Training Captain.
Never had a degree.
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:41 pm

In Europe it's not a legal requirement. Not sure if a high school diploma is even required.

Certain airlines have additional requirements though.

[Edited 2016-06-08 08:42:03]
 
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cosyr
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:48 pm

I work at a University, and I see military transcripts all the time. While most of the pilot training someone might get counts as college credit, it is not toward a specific degree. When transferred to our school, most of it counts as elective credits, so while highly trained, most of these students would be almost 3 1/2 years away from their degree. Unless they went to one of the academies from the start or took classes unrelated to military training on their own, most of them would never have a reason to seek a Bachelor's degree. I do not know if airlines distinguish between a Bachelor's and an Associates. I would imagine there might be a pay difference for pilots that have no degree and those with a Master's or anywhere in between.
 
BravoOne
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:51 pm

One of Delta's favorite interview questions is what was you grade point average and please explain why it took you five years to complete your four year degree?

[Edited 2016-06-08 09:29:19]
 
Andy33
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:03 pm

Quoting AirPacific747 (Reply 23):
In Europe it's not a legal requirement. Not sure if a high school diploma is even required.

High school diplomas can't be a requirement since several countries covered by EASA have no such thing. Instead there are national exams people take while at school, you get grades in each separate subject, employers recruiting or universities considering which students are eligible to apply for which courses, will look at the grades you have achieved and the subjects you passed. The school issues nothing, it's the exam authority that does.
 
johns624
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:31 pm

Quoting mmo (Reply 7):
NW DID have a college degree requirement. I was hired in the early 80s and there was certainly a 4 year college degree requirement. That requirement was in place the entire time hiring was going on.

Wrong. My brother was hired in the late 90's without a degree, or really any credits. He'd started as an Army CWO helicopter pilot, flew in the oil industry, air ambulance, govt agency and a regional before NW hired him. He now has 22K+ hours.
 
BravoOne
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:36 pm

This has been a much discussed subject on one of the more popular airline websites. I think there is agreement that if you want a job, in the USA at a legacy airline you will need to have that four year degree to get your foot in the door. Planning otherwise will lead to disappointment. Twenty years ago it was a different story and five years from now it may once again be something else.
 
Rdh3e
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:43 pm

From United.com note that it's "Preferred", likely strongly so:


Minimum qualifications

Certification requirements:

Unrestricted FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate with airplane multiengine class rating
Current FAA first-class medical certificate
FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR)
Flight time requirement:

Minimum of 1,000 hours of fixed-wing turbine time
General requirements:

Current, valid passport
Legal right to work in the United States
High school diploma or GED equivalent
Bachelor’s degree from accredited college or university is preferred
Reliable, punctual attendance is an essential function of the position
 
B52overSMF
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:54 pm

On a related note to flying and degrees...

The FAA allows for restricted ATP certificates, that essentially reduce the number of flight hours required to exercise the privileges of an ATP, that are based on particular degrees someone has earned.

Normally, 1,500 hours are required, however here is a breakdown of the required hours based on experience/degree:
750 Hours for military flying service
1,000 Hours for a bachelors (I believe it must be of science, not arts)
1,250 Hours for an associates (I believe it must be of science, not arts)

It applies only for degrees of an "aviation major." The interesting part is that not all degrees that you might think apply. For instance, aeronautical engineering does not qualify, how professional aeronautics, air traffic management, or an aeronautical management degree do.

For instance, I have a B.S. in Aeronautical Management Technology from Arizona State (Sun Devils!). I can knock 500 hours off the 1,500 hour requirement and as such could fly right seat for an air carrier. However, I would not be able to fly left seat until hitting the 1,500 hour mark. Hence the "restricted" part. Whether a particular air carrier will higher a restricted ATP pilot vs. non-restricted, is another story.

Now you know.

[Edited 2016-06-08 09:55:42]
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:11 pm

Quoting B52overSMF (Reply 30):

What is the requirement for a full ATP then? In EASAland, 1500 hours, including 250hours pic(us) and a sim check is sufficient to unfreeze your 'full' ATPL.
 
ThirtyEcho
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:21 pm

Quoting badgervor (Reply 20):
I knew a pilot who had a degree in soil science

Could be useful for off-airport landings. "Get me the sandy loam checklist."
 
BravoOne
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:29 pm

Well if you look at "who has been hired" over on Airline pilot Central I don't think anyone without a four degree at a minimum and at least 2000 hours of command time has been hired at Delta in the last five years I would think that both UAL, AA along with FEDEX and SWA would be pretty much in line with those same requirements? At one time Delta was the largest employer of USAF Academy graduates in the US. In some cases employing as much as 10% of a graduating class.
 
BravoOne
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 5:55 pm

Quoting B52overSMF (Reply 30):
It applies only for degrees of an "aviation major." The interesting part is that not all degrees that you might think apply. For instance, aeronautical engineering does not qualify, how professional aeronautics, air traffic management, or an aeronautical management degree do.

That does not make any sense? I have goof friend who has a Aeronautical Engineering degree from Princeton. I don't think that ever inhibited him from getting hired. Also made Rear Admiral in the USN Reserves.
 
johns624
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:30 pm

Quoting BravoOne (Reply 34):
That does not make any sense? I have goof friend who has a Aeronautical Engineering degree from Princeton. I don't think that ever inhibited him from getting hired. Also made Rear Admiral in the USN Reserves.

He referenced those degrees cutting the number of hours needed to qualify, not that only aviation degrees were accepted.
 
trex8
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:51 pm

Slight OT but you dont need an aviation major for your degree for US military. Most naval academy grads looking to fly actually major in "easier" courses like poly sci/history just to get better grades than they would in eg aerospace engineering to get ranked higher in their class and more likely to get a flight school slot when they graduate.

[Edited 2016-06-08 11:56:29]

edit - clarify


[Edited 2016-06-08 11:57:26]
 
FlyingSicilian
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:03 pm

Quoting reltney (Reply 18):
Not actually true. The air national guard ANG requires you to complete a degree within 10 years of the commission to 2lt. It is often overlooked as my F-16 commander had yet to complete his degree but has been in 23 years as a pilot. I have flown with many other air force (ang) pilots who don't have degrees. My college room mate was a F-106 pilot in 1985 with the Montana ANG and was working on a degree with me at parks college. He transitioned to the viper(16) and a year later finished his degree. Just an odd bit of trivia.

My father retired from Delta Air Lines in 1989 with 34 years as a pilot and still doesn't have a degree. He is still instructing yet has never had one day of college.

Never say Never.

Actually, what I said is true, I said Air Force and Navy, not Air National Guard. It is, and has been public law that Air Force and Navy commissioned officers must have four year degrees.

Lots of things happen in the ANG that do not happen in the Air Force.
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lugie
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:27 pm

In Germany you can start ab-initio pilot training right after school, minimum age is 18 and the requirement is our "equivalent" to a High School diploma (Abitur).

They do however have some minimum requirements in terms of GPAs and grades in important classes such as German and Maths, English and other foreign languages and Physics/Geography.

Given what US tuition costs have come to nowadays it's a bit ridiculous imo to have a college degree as a requirement...
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AirPacific747
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:16 pm

Quoting lugie (Reply 38):

Not only due to tuition costs but how has the US civil aviation been any safer than the European where it's not a requirement to have a college degree? Stupid requirement and experience proves it.
 
IPFreely
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 12:38 am

Quoting Woodreau (Reply 15):
Embry-Riddle will gladly charge you an arm and a leg and your first born to get you an aeronautical science degree (a useless degree IMO) but you could find more useful and cost effective ways to get it checked off.

You can get an equally useless degree pretty quick from the University of Phoenix or some other online school for a fraction of the cost of Embry-Riddle.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 1:32 am

Quoting airtran737 (Reply 19):
Quoting blacksoviet (Reply 10):
Do you have to understand algebra in order to get a college degree? What about geometry?

No. Airlines don't care what your degree is in. All they care is that you have a piece of paper that demonstrates that you are capable of higher learning.

This is true. However a working knowledge of basic mental maths, (very) basic algebra and geometry is a huge help both while doing your ATPL exams and later in the cockpit.

Having said that, you don't need a degree in the sciences or mathematics to have those skills.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 14):
At the end of hiring sprees in the past, the pilot qualifications of those hired can get pretty slim. I chuckle when I recently talked with one of our Triple Captains, that said he was hired in the 1980s with about 200 hours total time!

I've flown with some captains like that. For that matter, I was hired with 275 hours and went directly to a widebody.
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cbphoto
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:15 am

Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 6):
Wrong.

For higher tier jobs, it has been required for the last 50+ years for 99+% of hires.

Regionals and nationals, not as much so.

Get the degree.

I don't get how I am wrong? Yes, a few of the majors required it, compared to the many regionals and national airlines that did not require it. I would say for every airline that required it, there were 10 that didn't. Even today, many regionals prefer you have a 4 year degree, not necessarily require it.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 14):

When there was a huge excess of pilot applicants, a University Degree or Aviation College certificate was just another way of moving candicates up and down the list. In other words when you have say 20 times as many applicants as jobs, it was one of many attributes used to stack the list.

Exactly, pretty much what I was getting at.

At the same time, I wouldn't consider getting into this industry without a college degree. Get one in something besides aviation, so you can always have something to fall back on.
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reltney
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:54 am

Quoting FlyingSicilian (Reply 37):

You are 100% correct.

However as an ANG officer, I can transfer directly to active air force any time and my commander has for 3 years still without college. Great loophole! I saw it at my unit and I lived it.

ANG is indistinguishable from an active duty Air Force guy ....well...except for the polish of the boots and haircut.

Great point. Get college. Need it!
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JetBlue1058
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:06 am

Quoting B52overSMF (Reply 30):

Ill be starting at ASU in the fall in the pro flight program!  
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FlyingSicilian
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 1:49 pm

Quoting reltney (Reply 43):
You are 100% correct.

However as an ANG officer, I can transfer directly to active air force any time and my commander has for 3 years still without college. Great loophole! I saw it at my unit and I lived it.

ANG is indistinguishable from an active duty Air Force guy ....well...except for the polish of the boots and haircut.

Great point. Get college. Need it!

Well, that is also not 100% correct. As a rated Air Force officer, and someone that had the (dis)pleasure of dealing with officer accessions in personnel the odds of getting an active duty regular commission and a flight slot are slim to none and none just left the building without a degree.
Years ago a lot of things happened. DUIs used to be marks of honour that never affected a career, for example.

there are always one off stories in the Air Force. One needs a master's to make Col and Gen. but there is exactly one Brig Gen without a masters. It happens, but normally through odd luck; it cannot be planned for by the majority of applicants.

The whole one team, one fight one Air Force mantra is non-sense IMO. and I have played active duty and reserve...but we are digressing.

You and both agree the degree is the way to go, so lets agree on that  
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tb727
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:37 pm

If someone wants to be a pilot and get a 4 year degree, I highly suggest getting a degree in a field you wouldn't mind having as a backup career plan.
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FlyingSicilian
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:26 pm

timely... I just got an email this morning from Flight Safety Academy noting a new partnership with WVU IT:



"We would like to share some exciting news with you from FlightSafety Academy!!
We have partnered with West Virginia University Institute of Technology to allow students to complete their Bachelors of Science in Aviation Management, while simultaneously becoming a Professional Pilot at our Academy. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please spread and share the news. This exciting program is also tailored for our Alumni Pilots. If you have not yet completed your degree, but have been wanting to, or if you started working on your degree, but never finished, now is your opportunity!!"
“Without seeing Sicily it is impossible to understand Italy.Sicily is the key of everything.”-Goethe "Journey to Italy"
 
reltney
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RE: Did Pilots Always Need College Degrees?

Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:40 pm

[quote=FlyingSicilian,reply=45][/quote

You bet! We agree. ,odd stuff happens.

Cheers!
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OUTLAW KNIVES.

I am a pilot, therefore I envy no one...

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Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos