Foresight (where to go from there?)


New Member
I was talking with my wife last night and decided to forego my 4 year degree work for a while and finish out my instrument and commercial. The only question she had for me was then what. I couldn't answer. The goal is to have a pilot job while I finish out the degree. The only problem is I do not know what is going to be available. Where can I find job listings to show here and me what I can do once I obtain my certifications. I know that going the CFI route is always an option but I was wondering what was out there in the way of cargo operations (preferably night time so I could attend class at normal hours). Can anyone give me some insight?

I live in Lapeer, Michigan and prefer not to have to sell my house just yet. So it would have to be in the Flint, Detroit, Saginaw, Port Huron Area. But sacrifices can and will be made if nessecary.

Thanks for the help.
Once you are entrenched in flying for a living, you will either have to take a step back in your career in order to complete your degree or attempt to get your degree part time. Getting the degree part time will take many years.

I am not speaking from experience however, but this is what has been drilled into my head since I can remember and is consistent with what others on this board are saying. I can tell you that I am in the process of getting a degree now. I am working part time as a tutor (about 10 hours a week) am only taking 12 semester hours, and have little or no free time ever. I am majoring in a very time consuming subject but can only assume that others may be just as difficult. I can not immagine it even being possible to find time to fly for a living on top of what I am doing. I can see working as a CFI part time but the hours would add up very slowly as I would have little time to instruct. I can also see night cargo as you suggested but between your job and class, I'm not sure when you are planning on sleeping.

I don't know your situation and can't say that getting your degree first is the only way, but in most instances it makes it 10 times easier to get it out of the way first.
That's kinda where I thought you were coming from. I agree in most cases. My problem is that I am only 22 but I have been working as a computer technician full time for nearly five years now and have worked myself into a situation where I have to be working. I am married now, own a house and have other things to pay on. I have been working full time and taking 13 credit hours at the U of Michigan - Flint at night and needless to say my flight traing is really suffering. I want to get into aviation full time before I go nuts here behind this desk! So really wether I get the degree while I am working as a pilot or here as a computer tech., I am still going to have a hard time of it to get the degree. I have been looking into Phoenix online but not sure how that would be.
If you're considering online coursework check out This program is thru Utah Valley State College. They also have a well-respected "on-site" professional pilot program. They are much cheaper per credit hour (online or residential) than a private school's distance learning program like Riddle. Best part is you can do your flight training at an FBO in your area while completing coursework for a 4-year degree at your own pace.
I've got to agree with Ron a bit, I can't speak personally since I'm still a student, but I know an AA capt. and a Conti FO, and neither have a college degree. And no, neither are military (suprisingly enough). I also know a former C130 jockey with 5000hrs who hasn't been hired by any majors. They all say something similar, the interview is where you're made or broken. Either they like you or don't, if they do then they'll find room.

Getting a degree is very important, I've put mine off for a few years now, but should be able to finish quickly with the online stuff out there now (I hear U of Phoenix is a really fast one). I sincerely don't believe that not having a degree for a while will make you unmarketable though.
Well Raskal, the primary issue is that (historically speaking,) more and more people are considering advanced degrees like high school diplomas. Fairly easy to get and everyone should have one.

Not saying that advanced degrees are less worthy, just that they are becoming increasingly common amongst job applicants.

Getting noticed by an airline is a multi-step process. Simply meeting the stated minimums will keep your application out of the secretary's wastebasket. Not having at least the average qualifications of the pool of applications will most likely mean your application will end up in the garbage can in the employment office even though you made it past the secretary by having the minimums.

I took a list of pilots that wanted jobs at Delta a few years back to Plato Rhyne, personally and even though one of my recommendations met the minimum requirements, he didn't possess the "magic number of the day" (1000 PIC turbine at the time) and he clearly told me to come see him again when my friend had at least that -- and this was after the time that Delta dropped it's PIC turbine requirement.

Everyone knows a story of people that made it to the majors with no college degree, but how many pilots hired in the last 5 years hired at American, United, Delta, Continental and Northwest have college degrees? Very few.

This is an ultra-competitive field, especially now and trying to get into one of the top 5 majors without a college degree is like "bringing a knife to a gunfight".

Believe me, I've met more than my share of disgruntled pilots that can't move to the airline which they'd really like to fly for that never bothered to get a degree.

The absolute SAFEST way to approach this career is to look at the "preferred qualifications" of any airline and treat those as mandatory minimums set in stone.

How far along are you in your degree? If you are almost there just hang in there until you get it. If you are just getting started than you might be on the right track, but I would suggest cutting back on school rather than putting it completely on hold. At least keep a little momentum going. Bottom line is get the degree no matter what. I know it is possible to be a professional pilot without one but if I'm going to be competing with thousands of candidates that have degrees, I'm going to take every edge I can get. As far as flying for a living, I'd say go for the CFI. It will be the most flexible with your schedule.

Good luck.
Thanks for the reply Doug, and as I mentioned in the post I do believe that getting a degree is very imprtant. I guess what I was getting at is that you have to weigh which part of your training takes priority over the others. In my case (I have 115 college credits now) I've decided to do all the training and get a job then quickly finish off the degree.

I think there's a general fear that you can't go anywhere without one, and that just isn't so. I'm not saying you're headed to the captain's seat at a major, but you can definitely get hired in freight/instructing and with the time the regionals before you hit a dead end, at which point finishing at least a BA/BS should take priority.
I do fully understand the importance of the degree for the majors. I fully intend on getting it before I get there. But as of right now I have only 32 credits and am a checkdire away from a PPL. I would just like to get on with the flight training quickly and get into the field fulltime.

You guys have really helped out but have not totally answered my really burning question in my mind. What jobs are there when I get a CPL and where can I find them? I am still seriously considering the CFI route but want to know my options before I dive in head first.

Thank you so much again for your help.
Hey Lilrkt-

With only a commercial certificate, you can tow banners, crop dust (another certification) or serve as SIC in a part-121 or -135 operation.

Most of the entry-level -135 jobs require meeting at least 1200 hours because you'll most likely be flying part-135 cargo.

Personally, in this job market, I highly suggest getting a CFI. I thought I'd be able to get by without a CFI when I graduated from college, only to turn around and get the CFI-I MEI at a later date in order to work.
Thanks for the professional info. Doug. I have a feeling that living in the semi-remote area that I do in Michigan, that would probably be the easiest way to get a job anyway.
As a side note, I am thinking of getting an aviation management associate degree and then going on to get a BBA. I would like to someday when I retire, own my own airport. (just for fun)
Hey Lilrkt-

There are actually a good amount of cargo jobs in Michigan. A lot of guys that I flew with at Skyway worked for small cargo outfits in Michigan and Illinois.
Well I guess the jobs are there, huh?! I will just have to get my butt in gear and get those certifications.
So does anyone know how I can get a loan for my local FBO? Do they have to be accredited or can you get it for a part 61 school?
I would suggest you re-read Dougs postings above, and take the advice from flyguy.

YOU can make a living flying without a degree, but as doug said it is quite difficult to make it to the majors without one.
Ok, Thank you all for your help. I am finishing out this semester and then going to start full-time flight training next semester. I am just working on Sallie Mae for the $$ and then off I go. Once I get my CFI I will start back on the degree. I also am checking into this I think that might work out well if it will work for me.

Something else you may wont to think about is distance learing. external degrees that are not aviation related. perhaps IT based. since you are in computers already it may be easier thanyou think. Add in the AP tests and you could have your AS in about a year or much much less if the scholl gives credit for your work history (and most do)

I went Through Thomas Edison State College ( and a firend is doing her IT degree at Pheonix in an accelerated program.

Learning to fly and learning CFI stuff is pretty easy, it is just long. Getting a degree at the same time is easy as well if you put your mind to it.

email me if you have specific Qs on external degree programs.
I took a year off college to finish my commercial and CFI. Then I went back to school, instructed at a local FBO, and lived off student loans.