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Solid Reasons To Get A Degree/Diploma Before Joining Flight Training

by Visnu

University graduates expect 57% more employment possibilities than non-graduates, with an anticipated two-thirds of all occupations requiring post-secondary education by 2020. A degree allows you to qualify for these extra possibilities and gives you more freedom to work. If a commercial license/instructors rating/airline transportation license is not accorded the same level of respect as tertiary credentials like degrees and certificates, I have often questioned why this is the case. If you are a professional pilot, your greatest level of education will be the last grade you completed in high schools, such as matric, SPM, degree, or a diploma. This will be the case if you fill out an official application for financing or other benefits.

Even though some pilots say that the qualification should be comparable to a bachelor’s degree, in my view, since it is necessary to have in-depth knowledge of topics such as aviation meteorology, air regulations, aircraft systems, and flight principles. In addition, the governing body has mandated that a minimum of 75 percent marks be obtained in order to pass the test for each topic, ensuring that the standard is maintained at a high level. But little did they know that all of these are multiple-choice questions with zero research. Therefore the pilot license is not comparable to a bachelor’s degree or diploma. I assume everyone in this industry knows why.

It does not come close to the level of achievement or to the amount of effort required to get a degree. You spend 18 months studying parrot-fashion in order to pass a series of multiple-choice questions, and you believe that this is equivalent to 3 or 4 years of effort on essays and dissertations.

It is my understanding that doctors who have a practical job with theory at its foundation, similar to pilots, study for seven years and then call themselves experts. I am unsure how our training, both practically and intellectually, compares to theirs. Pilots believe that they should be treated like professionals in the aviation industry. This is true since they are required to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. Pilots believe that their credentials should be treated as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. However, this is not always the case. Despite the fact that becoming a pilot is a difficult task. The academic level and effort are much less than those associated with a four-year degree in Engineering, for example. The fact that all of the questions are multiple-choice is a blessing for pilots.

So Is It Better To Have A Fallback Option Before Joining flying School?

In my opinion, it’s always better to have a fallback option. What I mean by this is, that backup qualification will always aid you somewhere in the near future, it can be another pandemic or another disaster that brings down the whole aviation industry. There is always a chance that you might lose your license one day. Obtaining a degree in an aviation-related field is not needed for pilot certification; in fact, it is not even recommended for pilot certification. In the event that you do decide to pursue a degree, I would advise against pursuing one in aviation since it is not necessary and it is beneficial to have a backup plan in case you lose interest in flying or become medically ineligible for any reason.

As we all know most of the premium airlines require a minimum qualification such as a diploma in order to apply, for instance, Singapore Airlines, and in the USA you are required to have a degree in order to become a pilot. So what are the advantages of being a graduate in the non-aviation field? There are few people under denial in this industry that “assume” it’s a waste of time to have an extra qualification before becoming a pilot. Get your degree, then talk to career professionals about the best way to get your flight training. Some of the flight schools have career path programs, which may be a good option for you. But most of the flight training courses in Malaysia are not listed under the MQA. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency is a statutory body in Malaysia set up under the Malaysian Qualifications Act 2007 to accredit academic programs provided by educational institutions providing post-secondary or higher education and facilitate the accreditation and articulation of qualifications. The only pilot license that is accredited in Malaysia is the Professional Piloting course offered by the UTHM. A course that comes with a degree + pilot license.

In today’s competitive job market, degrees are becoming rarer. However, getting one is a smart idea since it will make you much more competitive and well-rounded, and it will help you learn to become more intellectual, which will be very useful in your pilot career later on. You will need to get your pilot’s license, but you will be required to attend one of the large, costly flying schools. Finding a competent, experienced flying instructor at your origin country is something I would suggest. The money would be better spent on high-quality education rather than on flashy aircraft loaded with the newest gadgets and gizmos. Even though the hourly rate of a competent teacher is expensive, having a good instructor with whom you get along will save you money in the long run. A degree in anything that fascinates you may be used as a backup job option if flying does not work out for you for whatever reason is the best option.

What are the benefits of a backup qualification?

  • Financial Security
  • Better Opportunities
  • Advanced training
  • More funding opportunities
  • Opportunity to work as a CFI
  • Builds a better resume
  • Looks good to employers
  • Better chance at management positions
  • Improves Overall Performance
  • Better Decision Making
  • Higher Level Of Maturity

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree will also provide you the opportunity to pursue advanced flying training. The more advanced training you have, the more employable you will be in the eyes of prospective companies. Some university aviation programs provide this training as part of the curriculum, and it is much preferable to get this training now than having to pay for it yourself later on down the road when you are attempting to land particular employment. If there are 10 pilots with the same license, the qualification is the one that makes you stand out of the 10 resumes. Advanced planning and progress are made possible by earning a bachelor’s degree. More advanced training will make you more attractive to companies, and the more advanced training you have, the better. 

Thinking ability will be better compared to someone who just passed high school and enrolled into flying school. Making decisions is one of the most essential and impactful issues in the lives of pilots. Important because it relates to everyday job, family life, or other human activity. It’s all about people here. Leadership choices made by the captain or copilot for their flights which is very crucial. 

There has been interesting through behavioral and social sciences – including psychology, economics, and education – in whether people are born to be rational decision-makers or whether it is possible to promote rationalism through education. The traditional economic analysis assumes that humans make rational choices. However, increasing evidence shows that people tend to make systematic mistakes in governance and decision-making and that there is a high level of diversity in how individuals rationalize.

What I am telling here is, this is just a fallback choice because most companies require a degree to show that you have the initiative and discipline it requires for the work position. I know many people who have history degrees who sell insurance. Does it require a degree to sell insurance? No, but it will unlock every possible opportunity and land a job as soon as possible. 

COVID pandemic is one of the best example where most of the pilots ended up doing a job based on their previous qualification. This enabled them to land a job despite the crash of aviation industry.

Leave your comments below on what you think.

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Darshinii Sivasanmugam July 19, 2021 - 1:38 am

Now I’m not regretting for not switching my course in bachelor’s degree. Thank you. It was a good read.

Visnu July 19, 2021 - 2:43 am

Good that you pursued your degree
Keep in mind that
Always think about the consequences and plan ahead

Louis July 20, 2021 - 1:34 pm

What degree should I take, related to aviation or something else?

Visnu July 20, 2021 - 1:41 pm

As I have stated
I would strongly recommend smtg that is not aviation…

Will July 21, 2021 - 8:23 pm

Hey man -I was in your shoes before – personally as someone who got rejected from the last cadet intake only for the pandemic to hit – go for data science and information systems – they’re the only ones hiring these days – and you study for 3 years only – if you like challenging yourself and question your sanity every day – go for engineering haha – but above all go study something you like – cuz a degree needs a lot of passion for it.

Visnu July 21, 2021 - 8:25 pm

Agree with you but for someone without any qualification I think any degree or diploma would do because this will unlock every job opportunities that a spm leaver wont be able to apply

Anthony May 17, 2022 - 10:55 pm

Hi Sir,
I’m graduated from Bachelor’s degree of engineer. However, I’m planning to take CPL/IR frozen ATPL course at age of 32. And to be an airline pilot after completed the course. One of the problem that I mainly concern is airline company (such as AirAsia, MAS…) do not hiring pilot who is above 34 years old (Maybe I’m 34 after completed course). Do airline companies set age limit as hiring requirement? Thank you

Visnu May 19, 2022 - 1:04 am

I dont think there is age limit for Direct entry pilots
Unless you are applying for cadetship

Erin January 27, 2022 - 3:25 pm

Hi sir,

My son studied in Ontario syllabus international school. Now doing CIMP in Sunway College and going to University in Canada to do his degree in Bachelor of Geography & Aviation. Do u think its a good move if he want to pursue his career in Canada and not in Malaysia

Visnu January 28, 2022 - 10:42 am

Its a good move to pursue in Canada. Better opportunities

Nair June 23, 2023 - 8:33 am

Hi, Ive just completed and received my som results few weeks ago and my longest dresm is to become a pilot. I have been researching flying schools and have decided to enroll into AATA in Senai. However, I do recognise the importance of pursuing a degree or diploma. Ive also done my researched and noticed a lot of flying school graduates are still in a long line of waiting to join an airline and are currently unemployed. My plan was to join AATA first, attain my CPL license, and while waiting to secure a job in the airlines, I can pursue my diploma or degree. Do you think this is advisable or a smart way to go about it? Always open to advice.

Visnu June 23, 2023 - 10:27 am

Congratulations on completing your studies and pursuing your dream of becoming a pilot! It’s great that you’ve done your research and selected AATA in Senai as your flying school. It’s also commendable that you recognize the importance of pursuing a degree or diploma alongside your pilot training.

Enrolling in AATA and obtaining your CPL license is definitely a crucial step towards your goal. Becoming a pilot requires not only practical flying skills but also a strong educational foundation. A degree or diploma can enhance your knowledge, skills, and overall employability in the aviation industry.

Considering the current job market and the waiting time to secure a job in the airlines, it’s wise to have a backup plan. Pursuing your degree or diploma while waiting for employment is a smart approach. By doing so, you’ll be able to utilize your time effectively and expand your qualifications. This will make you more competitive when the opportunity to join an airline finally arises.

Managing part-time studies alongside your pilot training can be challenging, but with proper planning and time management, it is definitely manageable. Make sure to create a schedule that allows you to balance your flying school commitments, study time, and personal life effectively.

Ultimately, combining your pilot training with part-time studies will provide you with a well-rounded education and increase your chances of success in the aviation industry. It shows dedication, versatility, and a long-term perspective on your career. So, I encourage you to proceed with your enrollment at AATA and continue pursuing your degree alongside your pilot training. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a pilot!

Nair June 26, 2023 - 8:12 am

Thank you so much for your reply! Hearing from a successful pilot definitely is motivating. A huge thank you for creating this blog and website as resource for people like me who need more information and exposure to the aviation industry and pilot career in Malaysia.

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