View Full Version : Uni or full time job

28th May 2002, 21:04
I was wandering what is the best option considering the current climate.

After A levels go to uni and work part time towards flying career or go out to work full time towards flying career?

28th May 2002, 21:43
Ok, two ideas here.

Uni. You'll get a degree which may or may not stand you in good stead with regards flying. However, the uni degree will show to prospective employers that you can study. Also, it depends on what degree you go for. You may either love it or loath it. Study something you want to study. That will help the motivation. Uni life can be a lot of fun and you'll make some good friends. Also, if something terrible happens and you lose your medical etc at least you have some formal qualifications.
Downside, that's another 3-4 years "delay". Cost of uni itself.

Work. Nothing like working to make you "mature" into an adult. (I worked at a uni for over 8 years-best of both worlds really.) You will learn a lot about responsibility to an employer. Also, you will learn the reality of actually working for a living. Sure, it can be great but some days it can be mind numbingly boring. You'll also learn to get on and mix with a variety of age groups and you'll start to learn some real life "CRM".
Downside, difficult to get a well paying job with no qualifications. You could try an ops job or refuelling job. Gets you in the industry.

It is possible to do some of those jobs and go to Uni. Be flexible and don't write off any option yet.

28th May 2002, 22:28
My advice is definitely go for the Uni option first.

You can always fly with a University Air Squadron whilst doing your degree course!

Flying is a very insecure profession and the more strings you have to your bow the better.

I didn't go to Uni and have regretted it ever since!

29th May 2002, 17:41
UNI !!

A VERY wise old man said to me once "Knowledge is the Key to success, and no knowledge is wasted"

Guess what?? He was right!! :D :D

29th May 2002, 18:22
You have to consider how you would earn your living should aviation not work out for you - which it doesn't for quite a few! if you are content to settle for a non-professional (what used to be called 'blue collar') occupation, then there isn't much justification for a degree. If, on the other hand, you would like to be eligible for the more interesting (not necessarily the best-paying!) occupations in our society, then a degree is essential.

Some would suggest that you're better off doing a plumber's or bricklayer's course if flying doesn't work out. I disagree. Most people with sufficient intelligence to consider flying would be driven out of their minds by the boredom and frustration of a manual job - but you might earn more money for a while! However, I don't know many bricklayers or plumbers whose earning potential after, say, 20 years, equals that of most professions.

In UK, you do not need a degree to fly for an airline - yet. You do in the US, and it's probably only a matter of time before it becomes compulsory here. Do a degree - in a subject that both genuinely interests you and can be the foundation for an alternative career.

30th May 2002, 15:41

go to uni, get in 10000 worth of debt, use 4 years of your life to then come out of uni at say 22 and go into a job earning less than a full time clerical worker, no joke,
my pals dad is a doctor at a private hospital, bupa, bmi or something, he has introduced me to people at his work, radiographers, haematoligists,etc graduates, he says guess what they are earning? i say 20000, he say 11000, for 1st year slowy climbing
You have to be a very lucky high calibre graduate to walk into at least 20000 grand a year job after uni,

course fee and loans could be better spent on flying so could the time and I dont think airlines should ever require a degree, if you have the licences and the experience your in,

hell if it doesnt work out work in call centre, I got my highers and an HNC in aero engineering and now work for Thomson travel group earning over 18000 ,hell im only a sales consultant, and saving hard for my flying in 18 months time,

it would be good to have the fancy letters after your name though wouldnt it??????????????

30th May 2002, 16:28
You have to be a very lucky high calibre graduate to walk into at least 20000 grand a year job after uni

You don't need to be very lucky or unusually high calibre. However, you do need to have made the effort to leave University with more than a Desmond and a beer belly... :rolleyes: :)

1st Jun 2002, 01:10
Radiographers on 11,000? I'm sorry but I cannot believe that it is a graduate job as such, even if they are graduates working in them. If you get 2:2 or above from a DECENT university, and bother to apply for internships in the second year, and graduate jobs in the final year and you will easily get something over 20,000. The first year results are usually asked for now as well as a reminder to you youger ones to work a bit more.

BFS - you don't leave much clue as to your situation, but I would advise you to go to university.

Debt: the basic student loan is repayable only when you earn (11,000ish plus) and is at an inflation(ish) interest rate. Any greater than this [should] be covered by what you have earned before university and during appropriate holidays ie not the Easter when you should be revising. Don't bother with a car unless you can really afford it.

Benefits: get a decent degree from a good place and you will walk into a graduate job. If the arilines are not recruiting, you can joing the RAF, or walk into a graduate job that can fund your ATPL. The back-up this gives is FAR better than a callcentre job if you lose your medical, and allows you to do a more diverse range of jobs that are infinitely more interesting.

The mistake many make is that they feel they must get into flying immediately on leaving school or even university. The fact is that you can do better for yourself by holding off, and not blindly going into a job that is extremely limiting in alternatives with the given abilities.

As a graduate, you are entitieled to preferential loan rates after university and continuing interest-free overdrafts etc for a while. Take the long-term approach, and you will never look back.

1st Jun 2002, 11:19
hi again,

I know it doesnt really have much to do with the subject but to get into this job I needed a standard education, i was sent on a 4 month training course which was very interesting, I am part of the intranet team in my call centre so I get a lot of IT experience, also in charge of marketing for my team, getting sent on an educational for 10 days to spain to learn about the resorts and getting paid for it, get 75% of holidays and at the moment I am sitting watching the world cup on the plasma screens that are up all over the place in the centre.
Altogether my wages + bonus+incentives all add up to bout 22000 a year and it aint boring,

again i am sorry to stray from the point but I just wanted to say you dont need a degree to get good job.

see ya

1st Jun 2002, 23:35
Being a uni grad. I would say unless you are really into the subject or you have the chance to earn good money with the qualification you get at the end then realise that it is 4 years to accumulate debt you will run up...... and come out of it probably to spend the following 4 years paying it off?!$%

So I think if I had the time again.....although I did have an excellent time making friends and partying....I would get an apprentise type job......something you can get a qualification and experience at the same time.

Electronics or computing are excellent choices as they are fields that are always changing and the world revolves around computers.........

But if you dont want to get too technical be a spark or a plumber because again people always need both and you can come and go into work when ever things get tight.....

ok thats my peneth worth take it or leave it!

good luck deciding

Perfect PFL
3rd Jun 2002, 18:46
I chose the Uni option, and joined a UAS. That was the best decision for me, and I don't regret it at all, but you have to decide what is best for you, so I'll just tell you what I've done, rather than saying what I think you should do.

I went to Nottingham Uni and did a maths degree at 18. Joined the University Air Squadron when I got there, which was great - 3 years of brilliant flying, and great people. Still only 21 and I graduated from Uni, had a degree and 120hours on the Bulldog having completed the RAF Elementary Flying Training.

During my final year and the year after graduating went through a few selection processes for the airline - BA twice, bmi twice, AFT, etc. Wasn't successful unfortunately, but luckily I had my degree to use. During this time I also did my PPL, which was very quick after the UAS flying. Also applied for a few graduate type jobs to start earning some money while I kept applying for the airlines. I took the first one I was offered with DERA, working in the Cockpit Systems area - aviation related, and very interesting and varied work. Then the airline recruitment dried up quite a bit, so I was glad I was in a good job. Now been working in this job, now with QinetiQ since we were privatised, for getting on for 2 years.

Ok, so I'm still not in a flying job, so you could say that I made a wrong decision somewhere along the line - but I don't know if it would have been any different if I didn't go to uni, but not having the flying job I know I'm in the best position now that I could be. I'm now 24, and have a good degree for a good university. Had 3 years of great flying with the UAS while I was there. Now have a PPL which I still keep current just flying for fun. Have 2 years of experience in mainly aviation related research and development work.

I still have an application in with BA, and am half way through the selection for AFT's full sponsorship - so if either of those start going again soon, then who knows, I may still get that flying job yet. If not though I'm enjoying what I'm doing now, and have a lot more opportunities available to me in non-flying careers than someone who didn't go to uni.

Which ever way you decide to go, make sure you commit to what you're doing, and make the most of it.

Bucking Bronco
3rd Jun 2002, 22:01
I went to Uni at a time when no one was sponsoring or hiring, I didn't want to but had little choice. I am now flying for the world's favorite, by the time I retire I will have done 32 years. Going to Uni is going to give you possibly the best 3 years of your life, you have the rest of your life to fly.

Best of luck whatever you chose!

3rd Jun 2002, 23:06
Bucking Bronco !

Long time no see ! My neck-brace is now off after 3 years from that landing we walked away from which you did at CCAT. I thought you worked for BA now by the way !

Good advice though :- get a degree and have fun at college first.

Best of luck

4th Jun 2002, 13:26
I went to Uni, sorry to say that it was ****. If you don't know what to do, get a job as a Steward and
s hag your way senseless around the world. Do it for a year and then get a proper job. Hindsight is a
wonderful thing. It's what I should have done.

Wee Weasley Welshman
4th Jun 2002, 17:19
Re-posted from an earlier similar thread at:


This years Natwest survey shows Uni graduates on average have 10,000 of debt when they leave University.

3 years and 10 grand.


Personally I might be tempted to avoid this.

I might be very tempted to take the following route.

Get 3 good A-levels and make sure you get decent grades. Maths, English, Geography, Physics, Chem, Electronics. That kind of thing. If you get some A's and B's you have more or less proved you have academic ability. Three years in Uni will only confirm what the A-levels indicate.

With your brains proven on paper I would now apply for a Modern Apprenticeship. There will be a couple of decent local firms that offer them. I used to run such a scheme in an electronics company and we had 30 MA's.

What you will get is 4 days a week at work on proper grown up pay. 1 day a week you are day released to College where you will complete something like an ONC HNC in your chosen Apprenticeship. Usually your work in the workplace will be assessed continually leading the issuance of an NVQ level 3.

Most MA's run for 2, 3 or 4 years. Usually your first year will be minimum wage (take home 220 a week) and this increases each year and when you finish you are up to Technician normal pay scales.

So. You can spend 3 years, 10,000+ getting a degree in a field in which you have NO experience.

Or. You can spend 2, 3 or 4 years earning 10,000+ a year getting an ONC, HNC and NVQ3 in a field in which you are now fully qualified, experienced and competent.

You could complete distance learning ATPL modules in your final Modern Apprenticeship year during months when the colleges are closed. You can live at home and have saved up at least half of your ATPL course. Or perhaps done your PPL and hour building over a couple of years.

If the market is buoyant then you can walk out of your MA any time you like with 4 weeks notice and carry your qualifications and experience to date with you. If you walk out of your Uni place even a day before finals you have blown years of study.

A Modern Apprenticeship will provide for you a FAR better fall back career than a degree coupled with no experience to go with it.

Trust me - you will be able to earn more as a HNC qualified electronic test engineer than you will as a Electronics graduate with no experience. MUCH more.

Similarly - do a MA in something that trains you up as a qualified Plumber, Sparky or Bricky and you will have a rock solid fall back trade that is needed from one end of the country to another.

I have a friend who works as a builder. He got into Chippying. He know specialises in changing and fitting locks in doors and windows in London for commercial premises. He has a bag of chisels and a van. He makes 58,000 a year of which the tax man sees maybe half. He picks his own hours and holidays and is his own boss.

If I lost my medical I would my insurance payout not to refresh my Psychology degree - I would do a plumbing course and buy a van, a mobile and an ad in Yellow Pages... an airline gets me out of bed at 4 in the morning very regularly for no extra compensation... many plumber now charge 75 callout fee in unsocial hours...

Good luck,


4th Jun 2002, 18:49
I was in the same situation, undecided on weather or not to go to uni or get a job and save for my training. The recent events in the airline industry have shown me that the airline industry is vunrable. Eventhough things are finally looking better I am still going to go to uni inorder to ensure that I have a back-up plan if things go wrong. At the mopment I am doing my AS levels so i still have a few years yet before I hope to enter the airline industry and eventhough I may come out of uni with debts, I still think that uni-work-ATPL training will provide the best way to get to the flightdeck.

4th Jun 2002, 19:09
WWW said, "A Modern Apprenticeship will provide for you a FAR better fall back career than a degree coupled with no experience to go with it."

That may well be true in the short run scheme of things. Indeed your friend who is a builder on 58,000 is proof of this - how much more do you think he could ever make - I bet you he is at the top of his lifetime earnings, in fact I can prove the economics to you if you give me a little time. You earn more in the long run by going for a degree. Can you not see that you need a backup career for later in a business such as ours - a short-term cash cow is useless if you are laid off 15 years down the line.

The simple fact of the matter is that an MA is not going to be much use either after a few years of not being in the industry, whereas a degree will. A degree holds value for far longer after university, and the fact that you hold one as opposed to an MA will offer you a greater range of opportunities and a greater earnings profile, which in turn can better support you flying training.

I don't know many people who would expect to walk into a flying sponsorship straight out of university, and you are bound have to work for a while while you apply to places or earn money for training coupled with loan repayment (bearing in mind that you won't need to repay it during flying training as you will earn below the threshold. Hence experience will come.

University does not prove what A-Levels indicated, and I can give you exmples of bright, straight A students who have totally cocked-up university. At university you have to do independent work during your degree that was well above and beyond what you did for A-Levels. The fact is that student debt is a misleading reason for not going to invest in university and is a typical of the short-termist view that will lead you to trouble.

University is a life investment, and though MAs certainly hold value, with the academic ability you undoubtably hold if considering a flying career, you can do better for yourself going for the degree. Why aim low and bore yourself to death if you can't fly, when you could be doing far better?

Suggs, Jet Blast is further down the page mate.

4th Jun 2002, 19:31
Go to uni if you want to. Too many go to uni because they feel the have to go right now. Do well in your final year studies so you have the option. If you aren't sure, take a year off and work.
That should focus the mind a bit more.
Degrees aren't for every one.

Wee Weasley Welshman
4th Jun 2002, 20:16
1) Work on the assumption that you WILL become a pilot.

2) You want to become a pilot as soon as possible.

3) Becoming a pilot is going to cost you 40,000.

4) It would take 4 years to save 40,000 whilst completing a Modern Apprenticeship.

5) It would take 7 years to gain a degree and save 40,000

6) At some point in your career you are out of a pilot job for a spell.

7) This spell will end and you will get back into a flying job again.


On those assumptions a Modern Apprenticeship style route wins hands down.

I worked in recruitment in 1996/7/8/9 in the electronics design and manufacturing industry. I ran the sponsorship scheme for Modern Apprentices, A - level students and Undergraduates.

I saw up close just how much better off you are avoiding Uni and getting your hands dirty learning a trade whilst earning a weekly pay packet.

The world is full of people with an OK degree from some OK university. Finding people at the skilled technician level is the tricky thing. People who can actually DO things like find and repair a circuit fault.

People who want to oversee a project to define critical requirement specifications for circuit boards - leading a team of people in a time constrained business critical environment is, frankly, easy.

In my factory people with Electronics or Electrical Engineering degrees started on 13,701 in 1999. Typically they had 3 lots of 3000 student loans. They had to move to the area. They were usually 21.

My Modern Apprentices joined the company at 16. The by the time they were 21 they were in the following position. They had an ONC and HNC in Electronics or Electrical Engineering. They had an NVQ3 in the same. They had five years work experience and were universally though of highly by their line managers.

By the age of 21 they were in fact not Modern Apprentices at all they were skilled technicians. Their salary was at 17,101. I worried far more about loosing my MA's than loosing my Graduates.

The ex-MA's career prospects were frankly just as good as the graduates at that point. Most rival companies advertising jobs for Graduates with 2+ years experience also welcomed applicants with ONC HNC NVQ and 5+ years experience FOR THE SAME JOB.

I have seen several ex-MA and ex-Graduate employees apply for jobs at rival companies and there was no big advantage for the degree holder.

But by the age of 21 the MA has earned (gross)

Year 1 - 8.6k
Year 2 - 9.6k
Year 3 - 11k
Year 4 - 12k
Year 5 - 17.1k
Total - 58.3k

Call that 40,000 take home. He/she lives with their parents and saves hard. I call that time to call Jerez and ask for a brochure (nods forehead to a past employer of mine ;) )

Thats if you haven't got sponsored in that time (BA will count an engineering ONC and HNC for their cadet schemes).

University is fun but take off the rose tinted Ray Bans and recall the hovels you lived in. The all nighters on essays. The crap food you could afford and the deathtrap car you ran.

Counter that with staying in the same area with some old mates from school and some new mates from work. With your mums cooking on the table every night. With time and inclination to start reading those Bristol groundschool notes ( Alex ;) ! ) of a weekend.

By the age of 21 in 1999 in my company a MA could have 40,000 in the bank and half the ATPl exams under his belt.

The new Graduate would be on 25% less pay with 10,000 of debt to pay off.

Of course I speak from highly coloured personal experience. But it is fairly insightful experience.

Good luck, just remember that - most times - there is no 'right answer'.


4th Jun 2002, 22:05
I think what we can agree upon is that people need to have something upon whuch to fall back. I do speak from the perspective of academic universities, and not for getting a degree for the sake of it - there are really many going into higher education who should not be there, though I must quickly say that there are also some very academic and highly respected departments in some former-polys.

Redsnail is right: uni does not suit everyone, and with the case in point from WWW, clearly the MA route pays. I do however worry that some academic people may be missing the boat by making the a decision not to go to university, and surely everyone must do the best that they can in their own individual situation.

If you plan to bum about while trying to save for longer than a gap year period, and not embarking on something that could be a second career if you lose your licence or temporary fallback during unemployment, 'idiocy' would be the most appropriate word.

5th Jun 2002, 05:41
Why can't you go to uni and have a part time job to save for your flying?

It'll work out for me (all going well ofcourse!). I live in good ol' Oz, so it'll cost me aboust $50K all up. That works out to be about a third of what you will have to pay though. Anyway uni is great. I earn just enough every week to fly and put some money away for my CPL. I'm doing my ATPL as an elective through uni, and I fly privately every month.

Uni isn't for everyone though. But it has helped me learn how to learn.... if you know what I mean, and the life is great (when I can afford to go out). Having said that, I don't think that I would enjoy a trade if I lose my medical/flying job, so uni is probably the best option for ME.

I also believe that to get an airline job in the US, you must have a degree and although that isn't the case here or in the UK now, it maybe in the future.

Anyway, my recomendation is go to uni, but make up your own mind.

PS if you decide to go to uni, do something that you enjoy. I started out doing IT and found it very boring.

Perfect PFL
7th Jun 2002, 16:15
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with some of the things www has said.

1) If, as someone doing a MA, you are able to earn 10000 a year (I know nothing about this, so I'll take that as fact) there is no way you could save 40000 in 4 years. You'd be lucky to take home 30000 in 4 years on that wage, and if you could save a third of that I'd be impressed.

2) Ok, so you can maximise your savings by living with your parents while doing this MA, but you can also do the same while going to Uni - go to a close uni and live at home.

3) Lucifer makes some good points - your builder friend may well have a good life getting something like 58k gross, of which you say he only sees about half, but that's probably about him max earning potential - most graduates I know pass this mark when they have about 4 - 6 years experience, and depending on the industry will go on to much more than this.

4) As a non-graduate you may well be able to still get well paying jobs such as these manual jobs like brick laying, chippy etc, but as a graduate you'll be able to get much more interesting work, and it the end will have a much higher earning potential.

We're all of course tailored in our opinions by the background we have, and the choices we've made, so these are just my opinion, and aren't meant to be anything against what you've said as such, just the way I see it.

If you want to fly in the future - go to university, do a course you'll enjoy, but that is academic, and if you can join a UAS. You'll have 3 of the best years in your life, and won't regret any of them. In my experience.

Wee Weasley Welshman
7th Jun 2002, 17:40
Perfect PFL - You seem to have ignored the Assumptions aspect of the first part of my posting.

You want to be a pilot as soon as possible. You are going to have to pay for your own training. In which case following a vocational route is preferable.

And do not fall into the trap of thinking a degree is better than a high end City&Guilds or HNC.

These are seriously technical qualifications held in the very highest regard by industry. I have heard industry leader after leader expound the view that they would like this country move towards the German model whereby fewer people do purely academic degreed and more do apprenticeships and day release vocational study.


8th Jun 2002, 11:54
WWW, think you've parked your soapbox at the wrong street corner, mate! :D

Perfect PFL
9th Jun 2002, 13:57

As I said, our views can be made quite a lot by our own experiences, and so maybe I'm just trying to tell myself I've made the right decisions. :)

If you are determined to pay for the ATPL yourself, then you're probably correct that University is not the best route to take to achieve this. Personally I wouldn't shell out 40k + myself without a pretty certain job waiting for me at the end of it, but I know there are people out there who are willing to take that chance, and good luck to them.


9th Jun 2002, 14:36
Perfect PFL

What industries are most of your graduate friends in?

58k gross is an excellent salary at 26-28yrs of age.


Wee Weasley Welshman
9th Jun 2002, 16:53
The old soapbox is looking bit battered I admit ;)

Just been chatting to an old schoolfriend of mine - the one who became a builder at 16. He has a sideline in putting in kitchens over weekends for 400 cash... All he has is a bag of tools, a van and a mobile...

He likes to do one a month and turns down work constantly. He then has 400 "silly money" for the next 3 weekends. :) Not forgetting he makes more in the week than I do anyway being a chippy.

400 a weekend for putting in IKEA kitchens for people like me who barely have a screwdriver to their name. The tax man knows 'nowt naturally.

:)Thats half your ATPL exams. Thats 4 hours basic flight training. Thats your Class One medical.

:(Thats how much your first year books will cost on an Engineering degree.