Pilot Career -
Wednesday, 12 October 2005 12:10
Hello Captain Lim,
My name is Aaron and if its not too much trouble, I have a few more questions for you.
I have definitely decided to make flying as my career but have become slightly discouraged due to the fact that only the top educated get all the best jobs. I have only a High School Diploma and to fly as an ATP, nearly everyone says that you need a minimum University degree or some kind of advanced education.
Could you tell me what the main reason for that is? I mean, I just can*t see how some guys with a Masters degree in Law or Business could help fly a plane any better. I am guessing that it*s the appearance of status - that you look like someone important. I know that when your are in the air; it*s all about the feeling, the control, the judgment, the intuition and so on.
Do you have a degree as well? And finally, what are the chances of being employed without a degree?
Thank you for your time.
It is not true that only the top educated get all the best flying jobs. Whilst there is no such requirement, most airlines would prefer you to have a degree from the University. The market forces generally determine this requirement and statistics have shown that the education levels of most pilots getting hired are not those with the minimum qualifications. The rationale of airlines is simple - if they have the choices, they would go for the graduates because they have proven themselves that they can stick to a challenging curriculum and succeed in their rigorous training. This is one of the qualities that the airlines would like to know before they invest the money to train you to fly some of the multi-million-dollar flying machines.
Nevertheless, do not be discouraged! I will tell you a secret. Flying is a unique profession. You don*t need to have a Master degree to fly well. I have known of a doctor who failed to make the grade as an airline pilot! I also know many high school diploma holders who are naturally good pilots and are doing very well in the airlines. Flying well require some inborn skills and an average mental capacity.
Do I have a degree? No - initially. I only had a High School Diploma and the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom was prepared to train me as a pilot. Nevertheless, I did acquire a law degree (self-study part time) after I became an airline pilot; but I am not a practicing lawyer (because I love flying more).
What are the chances of being employed without a degree? To be employed, you need flying experience - something not easy when you are starting a flying career. I would assume that you would acquire your flying training from a local flight school rather than from those professional Colleges/Universities where graduates end up with a degree and ATP certificates. Yes, training from the flight school will take longer and the instruction may not be as rich, but remember, all commercial certificates are treated equal in the eyes of FAA. So you are not disadvantaged!
In the past when there were shortages of pilots, some airlines hired pilots without certificates or experiences and trained them up. This is no longer the case but it is still widely practiced outside the USA - especially in Asia where aviation is booming. Today, major US airlines no longer hire a pilot with a freshly minted pilot*s certificate and with only about 250 flying hours. So, sad to say, you have to start your career up the hard way - accumulating hours and experiences with the general aviation first.
Well, it looks like your flying career path may be a rough one with many changes of employers, and if you are lucky, starting with the secondary airlines (regional or commuter) before you can see some lights at the end of the tunnel - the major airlines. It is possible! :-)
Wish you all the best!