Dreaming of being a pilot? Since the invention of flight, people have been enamored with the idea of flying above the clouds, reaching destinations ten times faster, relaxing as the blue sky rolls by. As a pilot, you have a literal front-row seat to it all, not to mention access to the whole, wide world.
If you’re serious about your dream, you may have an idea of how much schooling is involved. Years of education followed by months of training may seem like a lot, but the good news is, there’s a faster way. While you can choose to go the traditional route of a 4-year school, you can also opt for flight school, which will shave years off your training and get you closer to the captain’s chair that much sooner.
So which is best for you when it comes to flight school vs college? What’s the difference between the two approaches? What are the considerations vis-à-vis length, resume, and financing? Let’s take a look.
Should I Go Straight to College vs Flight School?
Naturally, there’s nothing bad about getting a college degree. It can open many doors, including that of a commercial airline pilot. However, if you’re sure this is what you want to do for your career, college might prove to be a waste of time and money.
Why? Because most 4-year degrees require you to take coursework and electives that don’t end up relating to flying an airplane, which means you’re paying for education that doesn’t advance your career. Plus, even if your degree is in aviation, aeronautics, transportation, engineering, or a related field, you will still have to complete flight school once you graduate.
This is where many people get confused. But, they wonder, don’t I have to get a bachelor’s degree to become a pilot?
Yes. Most airlines do require their pilots to have a bachelor’s degree as well as flight training. That means to be competitive in the field upon completion of flight school, you need a bachelor’s in hand. Here’s the secret, though: you don’t need to attend a 4-year college or university in order to get that degree.
If you go to a combined college degree and flight school program known as a bachelor’s of science in Aviation (B.S. Aviation), you can avoid wasting money on an expensive degree program before paying for a separate FAA-certified flight training.
How Long Does Flight School vs College Take?
Another reason to consider flight school vs college is the time you will spend completing your education. A 4-year degree takes – you guessed it – 4 years, plus an additional 1,500 hours of flying time before you can become a commercial airline pilot. If you wait until graduating from college to begin flying, you can expect another 2 years to pass before you’re able to apply.
On the other hand, a bachelor’s of Aviation combines the necessary coursework for a college degree with flying time at the very beginning. You don’t have to wait to put your boots on the ground (or rather, your boots in the air), because flight is woven into instruction from Day 1.
As a result, you’re looking at closer to 30 months from start to finish from an accredited program such as JA Flight Training. If you prefer to take summers off, you can still be done in 3 years.
Even if you have flight hours you still need to get in, you will be certified as a flight instructor, which you can use to achieve the rest of your hours before applying for commercial airline pilot jobs.
What Do Airlines Want to See on Your Resume?
Of course, before you make such a big decision, you want to make sure airlines will be happy with the coursework you’ve completed and the flying time you’ve painstakingly racked up. Although the demand for pilots is growing, you still want to be competitive when it comes time to apply for a job.
On a resume, airlines want to see:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited program
- The requisite 1,500 hours of flight experience, as required by the FAA
- A range of flying experience, such as handling large-turbine planes and navigating difficult weather conditions
- Proper licensing and certifications
Choosing a combined flight school and degree program will help you do just that. Of course, you still need to finance your education.
Flight School vs College: Our Flexible Financing Options
Ready for some more good news? Because JA Flight is a combined degree program and flight school, you have similar financing options to college. In fact, as a Liberty University School of Aeronautics Flight Training Affiliate, we encourage you to use our college tuition assistance through Liberty University.
Many of our students have saved thousands of dollars per year with tuition assistance, allowing them to complete their programs without undue hardship later on. Some students are surprised to learn that they have all the financial benefits that students at a 4-year college or university have. These include:
- Financial aid
- Low-interest student loans
- Parent Plus loans
If you have a military background, you may be able to count some of your experience toward your required flight hours and get federal funding based on veteran status. If you belong to a specific religious or ethnic group, look for scholarships and grants geared toward college students in those communities.
Bottom line: whatever a college student can do regarding financial aid, you are likely able to do as well. That’s what makes a combined program like this such a smart move.
Get in Touch to Learn More About Flight School Today
Ready to learn more about how to achieve your dreams? Get in touch with us here at JA Flight Training to hear about our distance learning model, which allows you to get credit hours for flight training at facilities around the country. Our team would love to answer your questions today!