Right guys here's the story. I'm at the bright young age of 17 and hopefully if the weather stays nice I should be ready for the PPL flight test in a few weeks. The aim is to one day fly commercially and after speaking to a lot of people I think its in my best interest to go to uni. Just a quick question, would it be better to do something that could be related to flying (not one of those aviation degrees but something like a business degree where if I lost my medical could possibly pick up a management job with an airline, FTA etc..) or a degree in a completely different field such as law, medicine etc..
In my opinion you should do something that you personally would really enjoy. I went to Uni for a year, but was unsure of my direction, realised this, dropped out, and worked in the real work for a couple of years.
Completely unrelated to what is good for an aviation career, if you slog your way through something you don't love I'd imagine you'd begin to regret it.
In some respects a degree is a degree. Of all my friends who went to uni, I don't think any of them are working a in the field they studied in. However several of them have or have had jobs they wouldn't have gotten without a degree, even an irrelivent one.
If you are able to get into a degree like law, or engineering, something where you can earn a descent wage, do it! It will slow you down as far as your aviation career goes but at least you'll have a chance to earn some good coin.
I had the chance to do engineering but turned it down in favour of progressing at a young age. I can see now that 3 or 4 years (especially if you keep flying in the interim) wont affect your aviation aspirations in the mid to long term so broaden your horizons I say!
IMHO, what Aerozepplin said, with this proviso. Do something that appeals to you and plays to your strengths, but make sure that it's either faintly marketable or in a field you'd really enjoy working in. Don't do a double major in Astrophysics or a Bachelor of Basket-Weaving unless these are industries you're keen about, you would be better in a more generalist area like Economics, Psychology or Business.
Otherwise (and even with specialist/weirdo courses to a certain extent) to most employers a degree is a degree is a degree. Good generalist degrees are the ones you mentioned, although Law is fiendishly expensive and you'll be paying HECS well into your old age. Med takes an awfully long time and you'll be studying well into your old age, also many courses are now post graduate. For better or for worse, stuff like Business, Economics and Psychology seem to impress managers.
That said, despite owning one (and postgrad, also in the throes of a second bachelor degree ) I've never thought a degree is a requirement for success, or a guarantee of a great income. Depending on the industry, plenty of people succeed in business without them.
Good luck with your decision, at the end of the day there are pros and cons to each option.
Don't discount a trade certificate, either, if you're naturally good at fixing or building things (unlike me). People who can reliably unclog pipes often do better financially (and employment wise) than people with lots of letters after their name.
This kind of thread comes up pretty regularly, and if you use the search function you'll get plenty of opinions.
For all those who'll say to do an aviation degree, there will be an equal number who say to do an accountancy or business degree, IT, etc, as a backup in case you lose your medical.
A Bachelor degree is three years of full-time study (longer if part-time) and the last year is reasonably intense. Plus HECS, etc, makes it a considerable investment in yourself.
Similar, in fact, to the investment you make in yourself if you go for your CPL/MECIR.
DIVOSH top tip: DO NOT DO A DEGREE AS A BACKUP!
Only do a degree if you really want to do one, and do it to gain a qualification in a field in which you want to work.
Besides, most degrees/skills have a shelf-life.
I completed my BSc in 1986 and I majored in Genetics, Biochemistry, with a sub-major in Immunology. Oddly enough, I found myself working in IT in 1998, and I had a reasonably successful I.T. career until I finally left I.T. in the beginning of 2006.
If I lost my medical tomorrow, there is no way I'd get a job in Biology. I'd probably get another I.T. job, but in around 2 or 3 years that wouldn't be available either, as those professions have moved on, and my skill-set would be obsolete.
If you want to have an aviation career, my advice is to fly. Do the degree part-time later on.
In addition to the degree debate, not many people want to hire someone for their first full time job. Its an obvious risk to take someone on board with no work history to look at. So if you're just wanting to cover your self for a medical loss or such, a couple years work (which realistically you'd have to do anyway unless you had some other way to pay for a CPL... or are in NZ) would be helpful too.
I worked in a factory for several years, learnt a lot of mechanical skills, learnt how to wake up every morning at 6AM, and now when I apply for a job I've got 3 years of steady employment to point to.
Not to talk down a degree... but that's a big choice to make, and one that in all honesty I wasn't ready to make at 18. Plus working a real job showed me that being a pilot was what I really wanted to do.
Do YOU want to be a pilot or not?
Overly simple question but the answer is very important.
I also started an engineering degree in the late 70's (back up idea and all that as an excuse) and started my PPL midyear. It became very clear that all I wanted to do (and needed to do) was to put all my energies into my flying career.
I subsequently dropped the degree and worked for 12 months to pay for the CPL etc and have enjoyed every moment ever since.
If I had completed that degree and lost my licence today that degree would be useless.
Considering the cost of both a degree and a CPL/ATPL either you are uniquely cashed up or you are willing to commit to some serious debt.
My forecast would be that if you start the degree it will be unlikely that you will want to start again on the CPL/ATPL - or accept the character building jobs in the NT/WA/NQLD that make or break new pilots!
As far as an 'Aviation Degree' I have very little knowledge but I am very sceptical of their worth and have not heard any good reports from those who have completed them.
If you do choose the degree then choose what you will be happy with not what someone 'thinks' is a good degree to have.
If you can accept that you are putting 4 years of hard work, 4 years of lost wages, and maybe $100,000 in HECS fees in a drawer which may never be opened then go for it.
Do Law if you have the grades for it. This is a great general degree. My advice is to put the flying on hold and get a good education that can be a good foundation for many different industries, including Aviation.
Considering the cost of both a degree and a CPL/ATPL either you are uniquely cashed up or you are willing to commit to some serious debt.My forecast would be that if you start the degree it will be unlikely that you will want to start again on the CPL/ATPL - or accept the character building jobs in the NT/WA/NQLD that make or break new pilots!
For a CPL and say a 3 year degree in another discipline your looking at a similar price to one of those aviation degrees they are offering. By doing it this way I'd still only be about 21 when finished uni, and if I was to fly during uni breaks, I think its possible to come out with a degree and a CPL at the age of 21. I can't see why I wouldn't want to start off in GA then, it would be perfect timing in my opinion, a bit more mature at that age as well.
Thanks for the help guys, its interesting to see different peoples opinions. I think uni will be a great experience and can't hurt me in the long run. Ill let you know what I end up studying.
I can't help myself - I swore I wouldn't bother with this topic after the last similar thread. People that come here and ask this question have some of the strongest confirmation bias (you will learn this at uni) that I've seen in the industry. I had it for some of the same reasons. On others i wasn't kidding myself.
These are the reasons:
1. Avoiding biting the bullet and spending the big cash and going through the pain of intensive training that most organisations offer. Lets face it 50k is alot of money to spend in 11 months.
2. Avoiding packing up the car and going into GA where people (me included) know full well a bed of roses is not awaiting.
3. Avoiding leaving the major centres where mums cooking, clubs and plentiful of the opposite sex are available at short notice. These are generally promptly replaced with shitholes and country types that really ain't got time for your "fresh CPL degree bulllshieat!".
4. Not actually being sure they want to be a pilot because they really just want to fly the big stuff and walk around in an impressive uniform inclusive of hats, bangles, badges and other cary on. The whole Cessna theme doesn't really impress anyone in various conversations at social events as they are "just little planes that crash all the time aren't they?".
5. Been done like a dinner at the uni open day with the line "airlines will have this as a minimum requirement very shortly... they do in America". Do they? Well F@ck America mate they pay 30k per annum for jet jobs over there is my answer to that! Qantas look favourably on it. Qantas looks favourably on people that naturally fit their mold. You either do or you don't - you could be Albert Einstein's son and Check Yeagers younger brother but if you don't fit their strange mold they ain't going to hire you let alone for some degree. Come on!
6. Listening to people that have no idea how the industry works for example: mum and dad.
7. "The contacts I'll make will hold me in good stead" Sure you will make great contacts but you can do this whilst in the industry working anyway. The contacts can only do so much at the top level. There are about 1 million filters you'll have to go thru its not about just knowing one person.
This is the reality:
You can do the degree whilst working and building critical hours toward minimum requirements for decent paying flying jobs. I don't want to hear - "oh I'll just do it for the love of it". Do you plan on renting for the rest of your life? Average home price heading toward half a million - wakey wakey. Next news flash - by the time you are old enought to retire there will not be an old age pension.
Of the 100 or so that rocked up to first year about 25 were left by third year and of that half would be still flying. The rest quit or couldn't muster up the courage/balls to drive off into the sunset. Still at home talking about it or blaming low cost carriers or whatever else for not sticking at it.
People that do the degree fulltime are often brainwashed into thinking they will have an advantage of some description over others. Its nearly like a superiority thing. I'd say I've done my tour of pistons, turbo props, jets ect and I can say that the degree did not get a mention once. Not once. All my High Distinctions and awards made not one iota of difference. The employers didn't even notice them.
The result was that I am where I would have been anyway three years later than I should have been. Luckily it worked out but let me add this to the uni open day at the "Anti putting of the inevitable" stall. Windows of opportunity come and go in this industry. There is a window now that was interrupted by the GFC started in 2005 and could end at anytime just make sure that you've used the next 3 years to get the airline minimum requirements or close to and a few uni subjects knocked over rather than a degree which you will show not one person and 150 hours plus minus 60k in your bank.