Professional Pilot Training (includes ground studies)A forum for those on the steep path to that coveted professional licence. Whether studying for the written exams, training for the flight tests or building experience here's where you can hang out.
I'm only two years away from finishing school and I'm in a sticky situation of what to do. I obviously want to be a pilot but I don't know whether to dive straight into flight school or go to university first. I hold New Zealand citizenship so I can apply for a loan in NZ which covers flight schools so I won't need to save up for years and get ahead in the industry. But people have advised me, for the social, independent, intellectual experience, as well as adding to my employability and to give me a back-up career if the airline industry collapses in the future, to go to university first.
-Back up degree if flying goes tits up
-BA's Future Pilot Program requires a degree so you'd be able to apply
-Flying scholarships are quite easy for uni students
-By the time you finish the economy will be, or should be, a lot better so more jobs for pilots. Maybe.
I'm too tired to think of any more cons.
If you are definitely 100% going to uni, do it before you start flight training. It might sound obviously but I know somebody who got their fATPL a few months ago and is starting uni this September to study business. Crazy!
Personally, I was crap in school and was too eager to start flying that Uni went out the window.
Hi, I'm relatively new here myself and have been in a similiar situation.
One thing I wouldn't rule out is an apprenticeship, particularly with a large company. It's what I'm doing now (after dropping out of uni) and the salary at the end is often close to graduate level but with no debt, thus you should be able to save up for pilot training reasonably quickly. Also, a few employers (often the large organisations) will contribute towards the fees for a degree after the apprenticeship if they feel you have the aptitude for further study. That is the case in the UK anyway, don't know about NZ.
Just for reference, my plan is to get a PPL by the end of the 3rd Year of my apprenticeship and maybe get an instructor's rating a couple of years after that so I can instruct part-time. Beyond that, I don't really know where I'll end up but this approach should give me the security of a career I can fall back on minus the debt.
I was in the same situation as you when I finished my A-Levels. I opted to work and get my PPL instead which was 100% the best idea. Working gave me a lot of confidence, life experience and appreciation for money and working for what you want which I don't think university would have given me. I have friends who are still looking for jobs after leaving university 2 years ago and say they wish they'd never gone.
I'm relatively new here myself and have been in a similiar situation before regarding commerical aviation, at the moment I am in the first year of an engineering apprenticeship with a global company (after dropping out of uni). I would seriously consider an apprenticeship before moving into aviation at a later date. No debt is involved an the salary is not far off from that a graduate would expect. Also, you could consider a career in the Merchant Navy or Armed Forces before moving into aviation, although neither is everyone's cup of tea.
My plan is to complete a PPL by the third year of my apprenticeship and look at getting an instructor's rating a couple of years after so I can instruct part-time. That way I will have a solid career to fall back on (engineering) whilst keeping a foot in the door on the aviation front, with no debt to worry about.
I spent six years at university before learning to fly and getting an airline job. I used my first degree to move on to the second, but other than holiday work with my undergraduate sponsoring company, I've never used any of my academic qualifications for employment purposes. If I could go back and do it all again, even being in my company where seniority is the be all and end all, I would still go and spend those six years at university. The amount of personal development, let alone intellectual development that I was lucky enough to experience, was in my opinion, priceless. I have plenty of friends in the flying world who missed university due to commencing flying right away. Every single one of them with friends of similar ages who went off to university, regrets not having had that same experience. These days, you'll be flying until you are in your sixties if you are lucky enough to fly right up until retirement. That leaves plenty of time for university and/or whatever else takes your fancy, before you embark on your chosen career.
If finances are an issue, do what I did - find university sponsorship. It provides the added bonus of 'real' industrial experience during the holidays, which in itself provided a wealth of personal development for me.
Many people both in and out of the flying world, suggest that my six years at university were a waste of time, but I achieved way more in that time than I ever will in six years of flying, no matter how much money I earn...
If you want a graduate job, or can afford the luxury of the personal development for the sake of it, do a degree.
If you want to be a professional pilot, do a pilots licence course.
If you want a combined graduate/pro-pilot job (mostly military) do a degree, then fly later or in parallel - but these jobs are very rare.
If you want a backup, get a qualification to do something - cooking, massage, plumbing, gardening, lifeguard, gym coach, whatever - something that is a skilled job with a clear demand.
A degree is not a backup, catch net, reserve, call it what you like - it is entirely about a combination of personal development and enabling you to enter a graduate profession (engineer, accountant, physician, military officer...)
If you want to look toward graduate / management roles in aviation after qualifying as a professional pilot, then fly first and look to a part time degree done during your down time.
I think it terribly depends. What are your ambitions in life ? Is it to be an airline pilot or to fly airplanes (now there's a big difference).
A few things to consider are :
- it's hard to pay off fATPL + type rating fees as a gardener. So unless you're uncle sits on the board of a major airline that isn't about to collapse, you might want to work out a plan B ahead.
- you shouldn't do a degree "as a back up". With that kind of motivation, its gonna be a tough one to sit through your "corporate finance" or "advanced calculus" or "microbiology" papers.
- personal development is not really a luxury and a university degree in a subject that genuinely interests you will serve you a lifetime.
- university isn't for everyone. Not all gardeners would be better off swotting over an agricultural engineering or biology degree. And whilst some of the subjects like maths and physics help you in the understanding of the flying stuff, it's not a prerequisite. An airline pilot girlfriend of long past started an undergraduate mathematics programme for reasons like that : she failed every single course, but went on and became a successful career pilot afterwards. She retired when the airline went bust just under 20 years later.
I would not use a degree to get a job to pay off my training unless that job was in aviation itself.
The best advice I can give you is after your training go and work in aviation. Baggage handling, operations, cabin crew etc. Literally anything.
Don't finish your training and then use your computer science degree to work in IT until an airline job comes around. A job will come around, but the best thing you can do is get involved in aviation right away, be that as a pilot or not.
And even if you have a degree, there is still issues with getting the job you want right away no matter what field you are trained to work in.
I was in the same boat, and because I KNEW flying is what I wanted to do, I decided to go ahead with it and not to uni. I agree I didn't get that university experience and what not, but if I had to go back and decide again, I would not change anything.
Took me a year and a half to get a job, but thankfully I'm now employed. I plan on getting a degree self studying in aviation management once I'm done training and settled. Had I done uni first, probably things wouldn't be the same. Who knows if I would have landed a job another 4 years later.
It's a risk you have to take. Think about it, and then don't look back. Pick what won't make u ever regret.
Be very careful who's advice you decide to take here. Some people offering advice aren't much further along the line than you are, others (GtE) really know what they're talking about.
FWIW, I did degree to open up other career routes if needed and for the personal development, and to allow myself the experience of university.
I graduated (after years of hard work and hard playing, lots of new experiences to talk about and memories to enjoy) during a substantial recession, and took a job advertised for school leavers at a salary less than half what I could have expected any other time.
A couple of years later I was sat at a salary far above what I could have expected had I entered a graduate scheme, having been promoted very quickly within the same company, with an offer of employment as an FO from an airline.
Make your own decisions, and then make the best of them. There isn't a right or wrong answer here, anyone who says their way was the best (it may have been for them, not necessarily for you) really isn't seeing the world right.