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Will a degree in engineering make any difference to my career?

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Will a degree in engineering make any difference to my career?

Old 9th Jan 2012, 10:30
  #1 (permalink)  
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Will a degree in engineering make any difference to my career?

Hello! I am currently doing my first year in political science and business administration and I have my PPL and around 100 hours. I have 3 years left before I´ll start flight training. I am currently thinking about whether I should continue with political science or switch to engineering.

I know that political science will act only as a backup plan in case I have to stop flying but my question is, will a degree in engineering open up any specific doors as a pilot? Will there be the possibilities of becoming a test pilot, working for Airbus, ESA, EADS etc. Is it worth switching subjects? What are the benfits with a engineering degree compared to a social science degree?
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 11:51
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The career prospects for a political science degree are pretty much zero, so while an engineering degree won't necessarily help you on the road to becoming a pilot, it is a more sound backup plan.

With the obvious caveat of only do it if you enjoy it and have strong analytic skills, engineering degrees are a long way from political science!
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 12:14
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My personal experience: nobody cared about my degree (Electronic Engineer), better to have flying experience on the CV.

Few airlines require to new joiners to hold a degree but usually they don't specify which kind, so... just choose the subject that you prefer without think about your future aviation career, which is a "separate world".
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 12:17
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I think studying engineering will make your flight training theory very easy, but don't see a career path to pilot which significantly requires flight training, apart from that, you can with your engineering degree with some flight training access to a "Flight operation engineer" job.....
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 14:39
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Well, firstly let's be brutally honest - a degree in a social sciences subject such as Political Science is of virtually no use, and makes little difference to your employability (except maybe in a few esoteric areas such a political research or aspects of journalism and diplomacy). It also absolutely is not a science, and shouldn't be called that - which is just offensive to real scientists.

You are more employable with just A levels, since you are just as useful but with lower salary expectations.

If you have maths and physics A levels at a reasonable (B+) grade, then you have potential to switch to Engineering. This is a solid numerate subject that gives you reasonable skills that are genuinely transferrable.

Is this of any use to you on a commercial flight deck? Not really no.

Is this any use to you in your future professional career? Maybe, since particularly an MEng with its significant management content may help you, particularly after you've achieved a Captaincy in 10+ years, develop a management/technical career within the airline.

Also, if your degree is in aeronautical/aerospace/aviation engineering, it *may* be a valid backup since you can show a continuous aeronautical career between flying and aeronautical engineering if you move into the engineering side of the industry.

Any other degree is of little use as a "backup" because you'll almost certainly have lost most of what you've learned and show no career continuity. Don't bother, it's a waste of 3 years and £40k. If you want a a backup, qualify as a short order chef or a lifeguard. Quicker, cheaper, and more employable.

Most TPs have an engineering or science degree these days, most commonly aeronautical engineering. But pretty much all "Heavy Metal" TPs at companies such as EADS or Airbus are ex-military. The other route into being a Test Pilot, in the "lighter metal" worlds such as Cessna or Learjet - the pilots were almost always Engineers first who did flying licences, not the other way around. And by Engineers, I mean people at CEng level plus, not just a first degree, which is only a career entry qualification.

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Old 9th Jan 2012, 20:00
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An engineering degree will give a lot more options be it in aviation or not and will act as a sound backup.

The country is crying out for qualified engineers, but not pilots or more spineless half-wits ruining the country.

A friend of mine was a test pilot without a degree but years of experience and like most of aviation being in the right place at the right time.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 21:27
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G-RICH, are you sure that fabbe92 is from the UK? On the scale of things, it's is quite difficult to get the Prime Minister's job, or even a cabinet position so whilst your post may be tongue in cheek, it's not useful advice.

Genghis knows of what he speaks, and I'd advice an engineering degree if only to form a better back up plan than political science and business administration.

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Old 9th Jan 2012, 21:46
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No I am not from the UK. I am neither asking about backup or help to get a first job. My question was regarding career progression as a pilot.

A normal airline pilot without any further qualifications would probably spend his life flying from A to B while maybe upgrading to captain and changing types or airlines etc.

I was wondering whether an engineering degree could help me take on other roles later on. I don´t know whether my degree in political science and business economics could help me but perhaps I could enter management or work with JAA questions. I don´t know but, my question is regarding these things and not if I can become a prime minister or not! I want to become a pilot whit the qualifications enabling me to work with other aviation related things later on.
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Old 9th Jan 2012, 22:31
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You will be on the current £3k per annum tuition fees deal so I know that the "£40k" debt quote from Gengis is straight out of the Daily Mail's take on academia.
£3k tuition plus about £7k per year to live on.

Multiple by the 4 years it nowadays requires to do the MEng degree needed to become a Chartered Engineer.

About £40k.

However if our OP is from outside the EU but studying at a British University, the tuition fees will be around £10k per year, so that goes up to about £70k.

True enough that many successful politicians have social science degrees. They were all busy working their political apprenticeships, working many long hours as voluntary party activists. A more serious degree such as engineering or medicine, just doesn't allow the time for that. They were (like many professional pilots) dedicated to their calling from an early age.

Which is most respectable, is a matter of personal opinion.

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Old 10th Jan 2012, 08:25
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Money is not a problem for me since I am studying in Sweden and we don´t pay for education here. The only problem I would face by switching to engineering is that I would graduate at the age of 23-24 instead of graduating at the age of 22.
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Old 10th Jan 2012, 09:29
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A very enlightened view on the part of the Swedish government and people - higher education should, in my opinion, be selective and free, not all-inclusive but very expensive as it's become in Britain.

Regarding your age - it'll make no difference to your career. At present you have a potential flying career to age 65, in reality probably to 70+ as things develop over the next 30++ years.

2 years at this point in your life, when you presumably have no major family or financial responsibilities is of no real consequence.

One other thing however - you'd better be genuinely interested in Engineering. It's a tough subject requiring a lot of long hours and dedication - and only being really interested in it will carry you through all that. The British A level qualifications I talked about earlier won't apply to you then presumably, but you will need a good level of maths and physics for entry, and a reasonable grounding in chemistry can also be helpful.

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Old 10th Jan 2012, 10:57
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FWIW, of all the people I knew who went from aspirant to flying big stuff for airlines, only one of them didn't have a degree or equivalent--although he did work his arse off as a dispatcher for a certain low-cost airline for a number of years, until the base captain put him up for the sim test. The rest, half a dozen in total, were an aeronautical engineer, a geophysicist, a computer scientist, a meteorologist, and two air force officers (one pilot, one navigator)

Correlation does not imply causality, but the pattern is hard to ignore.

Ignore all these grimy nail whiners and stick with a social science. It what the majority of Dave's Cabinet did - and they are running a whole country !
Could you please define "running"?

In any case, even with a technical degree that door is not completely closed. Chancellor Merkel for one has a PhD in chemistry, as I recall.
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Old 10th Jan 2012, 12:21
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Margaret Thatcher has an MSc in Chemistry I believe, and Leonid Breznef had an engineering degree.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Bush and Tony Blair all have humanities degrees.

I'm not sure I see a particular correlation between degree qualifications and who I'd want running the country!

I'm just clear that I want to see passenger aeroplanes flown by CPLs and ATPLs and designed by people with engineering degrees.

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Old 10th Jan 2012, 13:28
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Whilst an engineering degree will not do you any harm, I don’t think that it will greatly enhance your prospects of landing a flying job.

You really do need to be aware of what you would be getting into, an engineering degree is incredibly challenging. When I was going through my BEng in the UK, the engineering degrees had the highest drop out rate of all academic courses.

Of course any academic qualification is of limited use if you do not have reasonable experience actually working in the subject area after finishing the degree. Your prospects of landing non flying employment as a back up plan while you’re looking for a flying job will be better with an engineering degree than a social sciences degree as the engineering degree lends itself to more careers than the social sciences degree. However when looking for non flying work keep any reference to a CPL off your CV as if a potential employer gets an idea that you are a qualified pilot ready to quit their company at the first sign of a flying job they won’t be interested in you.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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Old 10th Jan 2012, 17:26
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Open doors.

but my question is, will a degree in engineering open up any specific doors as a pilot

In aviation “doors are opened” when you are in the right place, at the right time and with the necessary qualifications.

When the economy is booming, like during the .com expansion of the ‘90s, opportunity was everywhere and the major manufacturers were actively looking for personnel it is much easier to achieve your professional goals.

On the other hand during a major economic downturn it becomes difficult to reach lofty career aspirations when bankruptcies and redundancies abound.

possibilities of becoming a test pilot, working for Airbus, ESA, EADS etc.
In general I would say yes; an engineering degree would put you in a better place than a liberal arts degree for you to make the eventual jump from line pilot to test, management, technical or manufacturer's pilot.

Receiving your engineering degree, by itself, guarantees nothing for your future aviation objectives. It helps to be prepared, so on that point I would say that an engineering degree is more valuable.

Attitude, qualifications, experience, motivation, work ethic and education are all important. You cannot control the business cycle or geopolitical upheavals that influence the world economic climate, so it is difficult to place yourself in “the right place at the right time” but you can make yourself the best possible candidate when and if the opportunity presents itself.
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Old 11th Jan 2012, 11:52
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My persepective.

Do the Engineering degree. I did Mechanical Engineering as it was the most relevant subject to flying at my local University. Couple this with my PPL and some military experience in the TA; which I used to fund said degree, led to an Aerospace Engineering job with BAE Systems.

I ended up working at a large northern airfield; where I ended up talking to Test Pilots on a daily basis as part of my job. The company had it's own flying club and an internal corporate airline. As a result I have made many useful contacts that I would never have made had I took the other career path that I was offered (Police Officer).
I eventually found myself working on a large aircraft project while studying my ATPLs. The cross over was immense and helped greatly. I was in a permanent aviation mindset.

Ultimately, in a future interview with an airline what is easier to sell - that I was a Police Officer for the past five years or an Aerospace Engineer. The latter shows interest, relevant skills and a passion for aviation.

You'd be a fool to do Political Science.
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Old 11th Jan 2012, 15:27
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What if I´m not sure whether I have the passion and energy to do the engineering degree? I know that my current subject may not be the right one for me but there is the chance that engineering won´t be for me either.
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Old 14th Jan 2012, 11:40
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How beneficial is Computer Science?

Albeit becoming a Pilot is my key goal I still love my Maths and Computing. How Beneficial would my Computer Science degree be?

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Old 14th Jan 2012, 13:49
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Have a glance in this thread mate.

206Fan is offline  
Old 14th Jan 2012, 13:58
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An excellent choice - you will come to appreciate how precarious the code that runs the algorithms truly is. You will then hopefully not rely on computer systems to fly you higher than a wheel's diameter!

I have a degree in computer science, yet I find the analogue represenattions in the cockpit and imagination stand me in better stead than mental maths. I am living proof of the downside of the Von Neumann model and the single thread.

You could always use your maths bent on an Economics and Philosophy course and answer the questions of how/why we fly and why it is so expensive...

I wish you the best of luck - just don't do meja studies!
rmcb is offline  

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