No Bachelor's degree... what can I expect?


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No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

I don't have a 4-year degree, so what can I expect out of a flying career? I've heard all the majors expect a 4-year degree, so I suppose the majors are out of the picture for me unless I go get a 4-year degree.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Yea, to put it bluntly, you can pretty much write off any chance with a major without it. All of them use it to weed out applicants and I would say that 95% of major airline pilots have a 4 yr or more.

I don't think the Regionals require it currently but maybe in the future as salaries increase. Do yourself a BIG favor and get at least a 2 yr degree if you don't already have one. If you have a 2 yr degree then go get a 4 yr degree somewhere.

If you're just getting started in this business then many doors will remain closed without it!
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?


I sure sould use some advice. I will have my A.S. in December, and am planning on continuing on to earn a B.S. in Meteorology. However, I have seen a lot of posts encouraging people to get their ratings and get flying. Some have suggested getting on with a regional, and earning a B.S. while flying. My father is a 30+ year captain for Hawaiian, and is encouraging me to get that 4-year paper first. I am coming to a crossrioads, and need a little advice to make a sound decision. Thanks.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Jeff: I'll say it first before you get inundated:

Listen to Dad - Go get the FOUR YEAR DEGREE!

You can rush around and get as many ratings as you want, but As A300cpt said - many doors will remained closed without it. A lot of the big schools and even the FBO's will tell you to start training NOW, NOW, NOW because they want your money NOW, NOW, NOW!! Don't listen!!

Get the degree. You won't regret it.

Good luck.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Well hell.... maybe I'll just go become a damn firefighter! LOL

My past haunts me... everybody wants a 4-year degree, no matter what it's in. You could be applying for a job with an airline, and they couldn't care less if your degree is in religious studies, for God's sake, just that you have A degree.
Kinda ludicrous, if you ask me. A 4-year degree isn't the only measure of a person's integrity and willingness to work & be a professional.

Let the flames begin... /ubbthreads/images/icons/smirk.gif
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Agreed, it is mostly used as a weed-out, but such is life. There is the argument that after completing a 4-year degree a person is more well-rounded from a knowledge point of view, particularly in areas they would not be exposed to from their own life experience.

Granted life experience counts for a lot of course. It should be and it is looked at by those who hire at the majors I'm sure, provided your application gets to them without the hoop of a degree being jumped through.

Why not study at an in-state school to keep tuition costs down while simultaneously getting your ratings part-61 from an FBO (much cheaper than an academy). I flew 3-4 times a week while getting my degree in computer science, and still maintaned a 3.8 gpa while being VP of my fraternity. It can be done, even in 3 years if you put your mind and focus into it (pick a non-science/engineering major to free up more time).

Another good strategy would be to go to a community college with a transfer agreement to a 4-year university. Work your ass off to finish the requirements in 1.5 years, then transfer. This will be cheaper and faster for you. And these extra few years will be worth it to you later in life whether you choose to aim for the majors or not.

BTW, my dad is a retired 757/767 captain for a major, and his degree was in Christian education from a small baptist school. They really don't care so much about the subject of the degree, I guess!
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

You're right. It's not. BUT it does show an aptitude for learning at an advanced level.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?


I have to agree with your father. Get the degree first! I can just about guarantee that life will get busier for you the older you become. Before you know it you'll be getting married (kids?), wanting to buy a house, minivan (<g>), loans to pay back etc. Family will begin to absorb most, if not all, of your free time while any thoughts or hopes of going back to school will begin to fade. You'll be too busy trying to make a living.

Statistically speaking, the longer someone is away from school the less chance that person will ever go back and finish.

On the other hand, why can't you work on your ratings while in school? That's what I, and many others, have done. You don't have to do one at the exclusion of the other. Getting your ratings is important, but aviation is fickle and you really need something to fall back on just in case it doesn't work out along your timeline.

Listen to your dad. It's good advice from someone who knows!

Good luck!
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
Kinda ludicrous, if you ask me. A 4-year degree isn't the only measure of a person's integrity and willingness to work &amp; be a professional

[/ QUOTE ]


I couldn't agree more! A college degree does not make you a better pilot. You can't teach judgement. Some of the best pilots I've ever flown with never stepped foot inside a college classroom while some of the worst had advanced degrees. One of those too much "book" smarts and not enough good ole' fashion common sense kind of things.

Anyway, fair or unfair, it's simply a numbers game. Some where along the line the airline's HR dept has stipulated that a pilot will have a 4 yr degree to be successful in the application process. It's merely a weeding out process.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Yup, get the degree first.

Is requiring a degree fair? I think so. There are just too many applicants for too few jobs and the airlines want the cream of the cream of the crop in terms of experience, education, etc.

The reason why the degree doesn't matter is because each degree program has a certain "core" group of classes. I was just a dumb air science guy in college, but in some of my classes, I had enginerds and comp-sci geeks!
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Unfortunately, the core classes are what I HAVE taken, I just haven't taken it to the next level. Part of the reason for that is because nothing besides flying and music have captured enough of my interest to make me want to pursue a degree in any particular field.
Hell, I was a mechanical engineering student, a networking engineer student, an architectural student (I'm 28 and have changed my major more than I'd like to admit :))... higher learning is no problem for me. Damnit, I just wanna FLY! :)

So, without having to spend another few years in college getting a degree in something I'm not interested in, what are the chances of landing a corporate pilot job? /ubbthreads/images/icons/crazy.gif
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

I can relate to being in the late 20's, wanting to fly, and having no degree but some college across half a dozen majors. I made the decision to pursue aviation as a career about 2 years ago, right after a bad semester at college. I was 28, and also completely disinterested in what the university had to offer. So I quit and got a job as a network admin. The more research I did into an airline career, (and I did a lot!) the more I realized I would have to finish my degree to make it happen. I have one more course to finish, then it's off to get my advanced ratings. If all goes well, I will already be at a flight school the day of my college graduation. The past year has seen me work full time, school part time, and get my PPL, but it is so much easier when the work is toward a goal like this. It feels like life is moving forward again.

I have made some friends at the airport where I fly, and the King Air pilots there have really been a help to me. They know my plans, and were among the first to prod me to go back to school. Most of them have bachelor's degrees. I highyl advise making some contacts like this-the advice is solid, and I have a potential employer who knows me.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

I wish to thank everyone who took the time out to respond to my questions. I have been agonizing over this for quite some time, and I got my answer with a resounding "GET THE DEGREE!" /ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif

I feel, however that I left out some facts which may influence the advice I have been given. They are:

1. I am married (5 years and not keen on a pilot's schedule, but willing to support me)
2. I have a son (4 years old, he'll be 7-9ish by the time I'm ready to hit the line)
3. I am 33 and will be finishing college at 36, then on to academy(???)

If this changes your advice in any way, please let me know. Otherwise, thank you very much.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Part of the reason why I'm on the "GET A DEGREE" bandwagon is a phenomenon that only airline pilots understand. The thing is, you start making great money, houses, cars, lovin' life. Then you wake up and realize that if you don't pass your medical, bust a checkride, get violated or furloughed, all of your toys, clothes, cars, houses and your fly named "Ted" are on the auction block the next day.

I took aeronautical science in college and if I got the big furlough, like a lot of my friends, I'm completely out of luck because this is my only skill and I didn't take a 'back up'-quality degree in college.

Imagine how nervous the pilots are that don't have degrees feel -- probably even more exposed.

I'm going to try and shoot real straight here, but having spent the last seven years or so as a full-time airline pilot, only a fool would dive into aviation without a workable "back up" and a worthy college degree.

The flight schools may disagree with me because when it comes down to it, all they want are warm bodies with cleared deposit checks in their classrooms.

A300Capt- thoughts?
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

The topic of this discussion played a major part in deciding what flight school to attend. I limited my choices to those which consider a degree essential for success.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Given those conditions, I'd say you definitely need the degree even more. What if you get hired and then, God forbid, another terrorist attack happens and you get furloughed? How are you going to support that family? Working at Starbucks ain't gonna hack it.

One of my friends who just squeaked by with the furlough situation last fall put it perfectly. She said, look, if you get laid off, there are lots of other companies that you can go and work for, and you have options. If I get laid off, I have no other skills besides flying, and everyone who could hire me is laying people off as well.

Definitely get that college degree so that you're not in that situation, especially with a family!
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Even the companies that may be hiring generally don't like to hire furloughed pilots!

I'm not sure if a lot of people realize that being a furloughed airline pilot in the job market is like the "Scarlett Letter".
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

That's why you have to go to work for a company that won't furlough you. Like SkyWest the best managed airline in the world.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Keep in mind that less than a decade ago, Delta was the airline that proudly said that it never has and will never furlough, right before the gulf war hit.

Hell, we even have a contractural "no furlough clause" but since we're supposedly "at war", they sued to negate that part of our contract.

No one is immune from the possibility.
Re: No Bachelor\'s degree... what can I expect?

Doug,I can see where having a degree would be advantageous to you when your flying job is yanked out from under you,you fall back to your academical preparation.However,this should be a matter of personnal preference,and not a "mandatory" requirement by the airlines.Let`s say I`m interviewing 2 candidates for a job,both are equally qualified,down to the educational B.S. requirement,what should sway my decision to hiring a particular candidate? You see,having a degree nowadays it`s so standard that I don`t think it longer proves anything to anyone about your abilities to fly commercial aircraft.Having a degree in political sciences does not show my ability to learn complex airplane systems.If the airlines really wanted to verify a candidate`s ability to learn complex airline systems,how about then requiring candidates with degrees in fields related to flying?( the way the Air Force did when I wanted them to teach me to fly. ) What I`m trying to say is,having a degree nowadays is so common as it was having a high school diploma 20 years ago.Flight time,variety of aircraft flown,should be the real indicators of prospective airline pilots.