Of course there are some of them out there ... it is possible to get airline jobs without a college degree. It's just much easier to get the job you want if you have a four-year degree. I've always explained it like this ...
There are always more pilots than jobs. Let's say ABC Airlines has 100 pilot positions to fill on their new A320s. They advertise these openings and receive 1000 resumes. Obviously, they've got to narrow that down ... so they have various ways of doing that. First, they'll throw out any resumes that are littered with grammatical or formatting errors, that spelled the company name or the recruiter's name wrong, stuff like that. Then they'll throw out the resumes that don't have at least X hours total time, Y hours multi, Z hours turbine, etc. After they do that, they've still got 450 resumes left. What now? Time to develop a few more requirements. No ATP? Bye-bye. No college experience? Bye-bye. They've still got too many ... no four-year degree? Bye-bye. Now they're down to 200 folks or so they can interview for their open positions.
I have always tried, and I've always advised others to try, to keep as many of those "throwaway" standards as possible off the resume. So, I have a four year degree, I've gotten all the certificates and ratings I can, etc. That way, I'm in the "let's call" pile instead of the bye-bye pile as often as possible.
Even if a degree is not a "requirement" ... it is inevitably one of those discriminators that will determine whether your resume floats to the top of the stack when it's time to call for interviews or it stays at the bottom. In peak hiring periods the airlines can't be as picky, so maybe they'll overlook the lack of a degree. When times get tight, though, as they are now, it is easy for them to be selective. If you don't have the degree, it makes it that much easier for the overworked pilot recruiter to send you back to the bottom of the pile, or worse, to File Thirteen.
I know one guy at America West and one guy at Alaska. I know a bunch at UPS but they all got hired when UPS started the airline by hiring seasoned pilots from the UPS contract carriers back in 88. Those guys were working for Ryan, Orion, Evergreen...places like that. Those sort of outfits didn't care if you had a degree or not....experience in type was more important. I feel safe in predicting that the number of pilots that will be hired at UPS in the future without degrees will be statistically insignificant.
Ok mtsu, you have struck my curiosity, I know your a college student, what is your flight experience ? I have flown with both non degree and 4 year degree pilots. Both equally sharp and with simular skills, the degree did not give one the upper hand over the other. I once had an instructor who said " give me enough bananas and I can teach a monkey to fly"
If it were me college wouldn't be a huge factor. I've been enrolled at a major university for 3 years now and it all seems like an annoying game designed to get you to pay some beuracracy a bunch of money in exchange for a piece of paper. What you get beyond that piece of paper is mostly useless with the exception of some science and engineering degrees.
That said, finishing college does show that you can "play ball" in a beureaucratic (corporate) environment, adapt as necessary, and complete the tasks you are assigned. If it were up to me, I'd give guys with a 4 year degrees a 25% time advantage over 2 year degrees. So, a i'd hire a four yearer at 1500 hours and a 2 yearer at 2000 hours.
I give 500 hours leaniance to the 4 year guys because that's about how how much time they would have accumulated if they'd been flying during the two years they went to school. In the end, it's not up to me and if you don't get a degree you will be relegated to low paying jobs, unless you come up with a more innovative way to make money than piloting an airplane (michael dell, etc).
But does giving a 500 hour advantage to the degree replace the experience ? To me 500 hours is a lot of flight time. If you go to school full time how many hours a day are spent in the classroom? Then how many hours are spent on the same subject outside the classroom ? OJT and hard knocks can be just as meaningful as lessons learned in a classroom, dont you agree?
A college degree (in anything) shows that you are teachable in the areas that YOU HAVE NO EXPERIENCE, and you have demonstrated ON YOUR DOLLER that you know how to learn.
I am only a CFI, so perhaps I am speaking out of line..
My former instrument instructor just got hired (two days ago) at Express Jet. He said that he felt that the interview process and hiring was geared around determining who they considered trainable... not necessarily who had the most flying experience. Just passing this along.
3 hours a day in the classroom on a typical college day, 4-5 hours a day outside studying. I would argue that OJT and hard knocks are MORE valuable than lessons learned in a classroom. But, a college student could just as easily been racking up 500 hours instead of going to college those 2 extra years....why punish him/her for continuing their education? I don't see any way around demanding that non-4 year applicants have significantly more experience than their bachelor-equipped counterparts. They chose to go to college 2 extra years, the other guys chose to start work. Different choices and they both deserve credit.
College is not just about trainability. There is a lot of personality development that occurs as part of the college experience, and I think that is an incredibly important intangible when entering the job market in any field. I absolutely encourage anybody who is even considering aviation (or almost any other career field) to go to college and obtain a four-year degree. College education pays you back in spades over time, even if you don't realize it as you're going through.