Flight Training: A Guide to Aviation Education | Best colleges


From flight training to aeronautical management and mechanics, colleges prepare to meet the workforce challenges facing airlines.


Over the next 20 years, the aviation industry will need 790,000 new pilots around the world, according to a 2018 study by the aircraft manufacturer Boeing. The study predicts a need to recruit an additional 206,000 new airline pilots in North America alone. Likewise, Boeing forecasts a worldwide need for 754,000 technicians and 890,000 new cabin crew members over the next two decades. While these numbers are bleak for airlines, they are a positive sign for aviation major looking to get a job after college.

To attract students and fill labor shortages, airlines are partnering with colleges to strengthen flight training programs.

“Many of our industry partners have stepped up and offered scholarships and pathway programs to try to give a little more certainty to students considering entering the profession. And it has certainly paid off. Many students take advantage of these programs, ”says Jim Higgins, director of the aviation department and professor at the University of North Dakota.

As an example of how industry associates with colleges, the Associate Dean of the College of Aerospace and Aviation, Professor Elizabeth Bjerke, mentions the UND pathway programs offered by various companies. aerial. Pathway programs offer graduates a direct way to work for an airline while scholarships help students pay for college.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires 1,500 flight hours in order to obtain the airline pilot certificate necessary to fly commercially. A holder of an aviation degree is granted a lower threshold for the required flight hours. A graduate of an institution authorized by the FAA only needs 1,000 flight hours to fly commercially if he has obtained a bachelor’s degree in aviation. Graduates with a associate degree must register 1,250 flight hours to obtain an airline pilot certificate.

But colleges are struggling to keep up with the growing demand. One of those challenges is finding enough seats for potential pilots, says Mike Wiggins, professor and director of the Department of Aviation Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which has campuses in Florida and Arizona.

“We’ve hit about the maximum we can handle here on the Daytona Beach campus, and our Prescott campus is also at about full capacity. From what I understand, most of the other flight schools reach their capacity at this point, ”said Wiggins.

Wiggins suggests that students who may be interested in a career in aviation begin training in high school. Students can earn a private pilot’s certificate at age 17 by logging a minimum of 40 flight hours. Pilot training must include at least 10 hours of solo flying.

“There are several reasons for this; this will speed up their flight training time in college, and it will ensure that this is what they really want to do before they invest a considerable amount of money in flight training beyond that point. It’s something you’re either going to like or you aren’t, ”says Wiggins.

University graduates can earn overtime by acting as flight instructors. Bjerke says pilots can often hit the 1,000 hour mark in just over a year as flight instructors. From there, Higgins says many pilots are joining regional airlines that are often hit hardest by the shortage due to the more lucrative salaries and benefits of the big airlines, prompting employees to work there.

While pilots are at the forefront of the aviation industry, experts also stress the need to fill often invisible technician positions.

“There’s some evidence that the technician shortage is actually going to be worse than the pilot shortage, but nobody is really talking about it. Maintenance technicians are no longer behind the scenes; few people see or know them. be a shortage of these (technicians) going on as well, and these are actually fairly well paid jobs“Wiggins says.

Salaries and hiring in the industry have increased in recent years, with the demand for personnel increasing steadily.

“The big airlines are finally hiring at rates that we haven’t seen since before 2001. When there are opportunities, more young people are interested in entering the aviation industry, which is great, but Right now, the increased demand presents some challenges as we try to accommodate all of these people, ”Bjerke says.

“It’s a great time to be in the industry. Once you’ve chosen this career path – no pun intended – the sky is the limit,” Suckow said.

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