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QUESTION: I want to become an international pilot. I have done A-level,cie. I am originally from India but have f1 visa for the us. I'm currently in the us doing esl and planning to get an aerospace engineering degree. I have got number of questions: 1. Does the ranking of university from where I've got my aerospace degree matter when I go for seeking jobs? 2. Are there any university that have contracts with major airlines? 3. Which degree is awarded if I do 2+2 years program with a community college and university? I was told that you get bachelors degree only if you do 4 years at a university. But if you do 2+2 program then you may only get an associate degree. Is that correct?  4. Which degree is preferred more?  If I go with 2+2 will it make any difference to my career opportunities?
I hope you help. Thank you.

ANSWER: Aamish:

Thank you for your question, I will try to assist!

First of all, I wanted to bring up a point about the undergraduate major that you have selected, which is Aerospace Engineering.  This is a fine major, but, it is not DIRECTLY related to becoming a professional pilot.  However, if you have selected this major because an international airline in India or elsewhere has encouraged that path, then, that is fine.  Otherwise, you might consider an undergraduate major in Aviation---such a major would allow you to FLY and (if completed at a U. S.-based university or college) would allow you to complete a Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument and Multi Engine ratings.  In addition, you would have anywhere from 250 to 500 flight hours upon graduating, which is a major step toward the experience level needed to fly for an airline.

Regarding the numbered questions that you asked:

1.  Regarding university ranking:  I am not aware that the ranking of a university matters a great deal with airlines who hire pilots.  What matters in the USA is whether or not the university that offers AVIATION degrees (not aerospace engineering) is approved by the FAA as an FAR 141 "Pilot School" AND is approved by the FAA to offer coursework toward what is called "the Restricted ATP" (R-ATP=
Restricted Air Transport Pilot rating).   Those approvals are key to making the university aviation coursework and flight training "count" toward airline hiring.

2.  Yes, there are some U. S. based universities offering aviation degrees (again, no aerospace engineering) that have hiring programs with U. S. based airlines.  Generally, these are at the "regional airline" or entry-level airline hiring level such as with Express Jet, American Eagle (now Envoy Airlines) and Cape Air/Nantucket Airlines.  Those universities with Cape Air also might have a "flow through" hiring agreement with Jet Blue Airways.

3.   A 2 + 2 program with a community college and a 4 year university you will normally get an Associate Degree from the Community College and a Bachelor's degree from the 4 year university that has partnered with the community college.  If you do the full program as it is agreed to by the two institutions, then, you WILL get both degrees.  However, make sure that you ask what that program is so that you can follow it from day one and not waste any time taking incorrect coursework.  Also, the 2 + 2 path might not be the best path to follow depending on the approvals that BOTH institutions have from the FAA with regard to the Restricted ATP mentioned above.  

4.  Make sure you ask lots of questions about the impact of 2 + 2 on the restricted ATP requirements and benefits.  That is, the FAA has to specifically approve the program connection between the community college and the university with regard to the Restricted ATP or you will not receive the full benefit (the reduction in flight hour requirements) of the R-ATP program.  The full list of R-ATP approved universities and community colleges is on the FAA website at www.faa.gov

Best wishes to you in choosing the best collegiate degree for your circumstances.

Sincerely,

Dr. David A. NewMyer



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Okay, my goal is to become an international pilot. But I also know that the jobs are in shortage. That's why I took an advice from my counsellor and she told me that aviation just leads to become something related to aircraft only and aerospace is aviation + space study so it's an advantage if I can't get pilot job then my aerospace degree can help me with some other job. So if I do aerospace it's a backup for me. But if she is incorrect then please guide me the right way. And if you know any good universities that are approved by faa as you answered to my 1st question  and have contracts with airlines please give me a list of them so that I can research on them. I hope you got my situation, please tell me if you need clarification but give me the right advice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and advice.

Answer
Hi,

Thanks for the follow-up question.

The key thing to keep in mind is that Aerospace Engineering is a degree that gets into the design of aircraft and space systems.  Therefore, it is not just a "back up" but a legitimate degree choice with a focus of its own--and, another key thing to keep in mind is that aerospace engineering does not prepare you directly for a flight-related career.  It prepares you for an aerospace engineering career, which is, as I mentioned above, focused on designing aircraft, aircraft components and space vehicles.  Aviation flight/professional pilot degrees also have a focus and that is on flight-related career fields.  A key question for you is:  Which one appeals to you more?   (Aircraft design or flying aircraft???).  Both fields require an intense commitment to enter, and, the flight path also has some cost factors that the engineering path does not (paying for the flight training is an additional expense of $50, 000 to 75,000 for four years).

As far as "good universities" approved by the FAA to offer aviation-related degrees, refer to the FAA-approved list of universities and colleges that offer the Restricted ATP program--they are listed at www.faa.gov/pilots/training/atp    You will see a link in the middle of that page under the heading "Institutions of Higher Education" on that page that lists all of the programs approved by the FAA.  This lists includes both community colleges and four year institutions.   The traditionally strong institutions on this list over time would include the University of North Dakota, Purdue University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (both campuses), Western Michigan University and Southern Illinois University Carbondale (where I work).  

Best wishes to you and let me know if you need anything else.

David A. NewMyer, Ph.D.  

Aerospace/Aviation

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David A. NewMyer

Expertise

I can answer questions about aviation industry employment, airports and airport planning and aviation industry regulation (overall regulation of the industry--who regulates what and why).

Experience

I have worked in aviation since the late 1960s, primarily in airports, airport planning and in aviation education. I have done major research in aviation employment and in graduate education in aviation.

Organizations
University Aviation Association since 1982 (President, 2009-2010)

Publications
Collegiate Aviation Review Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education and Research Journal of Air Transportation ATEA Journal SIU Press

Education/Credentials
B. S. in History and Government, University of Redlands, California, 1969 M. A. in Political Science (Metropolitan Studies), Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, 1971 M. S. in Transportation, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1974 Ph.D. in Education (Education Aministration and Higher Education), Southern Illinois University Carbonale, 1987

Awards and Honors
United Airlines William Wheatley Award from the University Aviation Association, 1994 for excellence in Post Secondary Aviation Education Sorensen Award for Excellence in Research, University Aviation Association, 2008

Past/Present Clients
Prepared airport master plan and environmental assessment reports for several Illinois Airports; prepared two separate airport systems plans for the Chicago area

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