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Old 02-05-2007, 11:23 PM   #1  
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Question Questions and Thoughts Regarding Degrees.

First post: I'm a lurker/newbie poster. Reading this forum brings up a couple questions:

1) How necessary is a degree for a career as a pilot? I know the statistics show that most pilots for majors have a four-year degree of some type, but there are those who don't have theirs. What got these pilots hired? Experience? Shortages at their times of hire? Do the majors presently hire or are they likely to hire pilots without degrees? Is an otherwise experienced pilot without a degree automatically disqualified from being hired at the majors?

2) Is an aviation degree as useless as is sometimes professed here? Admittedly, I don't know much about collegiate/university-level aviation degree programs, but from my experience in the work force, a degree is a degree is a degree. I can understand that an aviation degree could be most useful in an aviation profession, but isn't it generally true that for someone applying to an entry-level job in most professions, most bachelors degrees will be as competitive as most others?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that I'm of the opinion that bachelors degrees in aviation aren't as useless as some people say they are. I'll also admit that I'm attempting to get my ATP and start my aviation career before I finish my degree. I'm mostly interested in whether or not this is a useless pursuit.
Thanks for everyone's help,

John
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Old 02-05-2007, 11:52 PM   #2  
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Hey John.

Those that get an upper tier job in this biz without a degree have three things going for them. The experiece and background to make up for it, a good deal of networking, and luck. If you want to roll the dice, then more power to ya.
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Old 02-05-2007, 11:52 PM   #3  
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It isn't that the aviation degrees' uselessness is "sometimes" professed here. It's pretty much constant, and supporters of the degree are mainly those working on one. Of course, they can't be expected to acknowledge that their current pursuit is an absurd waste of time and money...that'll come with experience.

Case in point--
9/01/06:
Quote:
Originally Posted by JMT21 View Post
...our discussion begin with you unfairly chastising avation degrees. As a reasonable person with many freinds who have aviation degrees and been successful with them, I simply put a few of your assessments into perspective.
1/28/07:
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Originally Posted by JMT21 View Post
In all honesty, commercial aviation is a complete bull**** degree. It's not challenging and useless other than for filling a line on an application. You would be doing yourself a real favor getting a non aviation degree.

Last edited by Uncle Bose; 02-05-2007 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 02-06-2007, 08:03 AM   #4  
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Some say that an aviation degree will help you as a pilot. There is really no truth to that. Yes, you will know a little more about aerodynamics and weather, but nothing that is required to fly a plane. Some aviation degrees will get you reduced hiring mins at some airlines, but that isn't because you will be a better pilot, more because money is being passed around to make the deals.

The reality of it is, any degree will get you the job as long as you have the experience and IFR knowledge to go with it. The reason that airlines look for people with degrees, is because people with degrees have proven that they know how to learn, so they are more likely to get through ground school.

In this way, aviation degrees are a waste of money and time. You could get another degree in law, business, accounting or something else that you find interesting, and have a back-up. Even if you never need a back-up, many corporate companies would sure like to have you with one of those other degrees, now they know what you will be doing when you aren't flying. Definitely make you more marketable than someone with an aviation degree.

I started with the aviation degree because it was a four year degree and it helped me get financial help to learn to fly. Now I am looking at Masters degrees that I will go right into once I finish this. Not only to have something to fall back on, but also for personal enrichment. It is okay for some people, but I don't want to go through life with some useless aviation degree as my highest education.
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Old 02-06-2007, 08:53 AM   #5  
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A degree is a degree, no matter. I'm in an aviation degree, but I'm no supporter of everyone getting one. I have another degree, and a back up job, hell flying is a 2nd career after I retire from my first one. I've got different goals, so the aviation degree works for me.

The reason I'm not a supporter is because if you don't have all the other stuff going for you, and you only have the aviation degree, what happens when you end up not flying? How well will that aviation degree help you get non flying jobs?
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Old 02-06-2007, 09:06 AM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblueone View Post
First post: I'm a lurker/newbie poster. Reading this forum brings up a couple questions:

1) How necessary is a degree for a career as a pilot? I know the statistics show that most pilots for majors have a four-year degree of some type, but there are those who don't have theirs. What got these pilots hired? Experience? Shortages at their times of hire? Do the majors presently hire or are they likely to hire pilots without degrees? Is an otherwise experienced pilot without a degree automatically disqualified from being hired at the majors?

2) Is an aviation degree as useless as is sometimes professed here? Admittedly, I don't know much about collegiate/university-level aviation degree programs, but from my experience in the work force, a degree is a degree is a degree. I can understand that an aviation degree could be most useful in an aviation profession, but isn't it generally true that for someone applying to an entry-level job in most professions, most bachelors degrees will be as competitive as most others?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that I'm of the opinion that bachelors degrees in aviation aren't as useless as some people say they are. I'll also admit that I'm attempting to get my ATP and start my aviation career before I finish my degree. I'm mostly interested in whether or not this is a useless pursuit.
Thanks for everyone's help,

John

1) When considering college degrees, you need to keep in mind that major airlines are the preferred career destinations for the majority of pilots, especially airline types. The regional/commuter airlines have traditionally served as a stepping stone to get the experience needed to qualify for a major job. Historically regionals were very crappy places to work, with very poor pay, quality of life, and benefits... but people would put up with this for a few years just to get a major job. Unfortunately it has gotten much hader to move from regional to major since 9/11, so the competition is fierce and many folks are stuck at the regional level. Depending on the company, this can be anything from a blue-collar-style middle-class job to a living nightmare.

The majors basically require a degree (accredited 4 year, not AA or ITT tech). You will hear of a few guys/girls that got in without one, but that was in the good old days when it was harder to get into and finance college. Unless you know someone (blood relative) at the Chief Pilot or VP level, this is unlikely to ever happen again.

The current hiring climate at the regionals is such that you can get hired without a degree, but this depends on supply and demand and changes every couple of years...when I started in the regional world a few years ago (bad timing) the only guy from my flight school who could not get a regional job was...you guessed it...the poor SOB without the degree. He had started flying pre- 9/11 when the demand was so high that the degree was not an issue. But things change fast.

With no degree, you are doomed to spend your career at a regional, effectively paying dues while your degreed peers and FO's climb over your back on their way to better things. And you might have trouble even getting a regional job, depending. If you can get a degree, definately do so. If you absolutely can't, you might want to reconsider the airline business (you could still fly in general aviation corporate).

2) If you are going to spend the time and effort, get a non-aviation degree in something practical (and hopefully interesting to you). You might need to earn a living off that degree at some point. The aviation degrees are not really helpful (better than nothing!) because they are a dime-a-dozen in this industry and also because in many cases the graduate got a LOT of credit for his flight training towards the degree. Most flight training is not college-level material, and people who have done both know that and do not give that sort of thing their full respect. With that being said, an aviation degree won't hurt you, and will punch the degree ticket. If your life situation is such that you need to apply your flight training towards college credit, it is certainly better than nothing.
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:23 PM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bose View Post
It isn't that the aviation degrees' uselessness is "sometimes" professed here. It's pretty much constant, and supporters of the degree are mainly those working on one. Of course, they can't be expected to acknowledge that their current pursuit is an absurd waste of time and money...that'll come with experience.
Uncle Bose, I see you have been busy digging up dirt on me. I hope the accounting has been treating you as well as it has been me. Have you had any sweet job or internship offers?

John, the fact of the matter is this:

Aviation degrees are easy and you get nothing from them that you can't get at your local FBO. Those that earn them do so for the sole purpose of filling a line on an application. With that said many choose to roll the dice and try to get by with one. Many do so successfully (see Uncle Bose's quote of a previous statement of mine) and others don't (Uncle Bose and those that have lost their medical or been laid off are prime examples).

John, you would be doing yourself a real favor by not taking the easy way out. Get a four year degree in something other than aviation.
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:36 PM   #8  
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Well...you're being a bit disingenuous. It's not that I was unsuccessful with my aviation degree--I voluntarily walked away. It would've taken me to a regional just like it would anyone else. My main problem is that that same level of "success" could be achieved without getting a useless, overpriced degree.

And yes, going into accounting was one of the better decisions I've ever made. At least we can agree on that...
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