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I've always thought it would be awesome to be a helicopter pilot, but I never thought of it as a reality until recently. My fiance got accepted into vet school in Kansas and I realized that with the aviation degree program at K state I can get a professional pilot degree and private-cfi II certs all with the ch 33 GI Bill. I have been so excited about it and the more I read into it the more excited I got. That is until reading many of the posts on this site.

I kinda liked reading all the glory stories about becoming a helicopter pilot rather than some of the reality I've read here. (talking about the job outlook and family life as a pilot).


One thing I'm wondering is how having an aviation degree as a professional pilot will effect my chances at future jobs. Will it matter much? Will someone with 150 more hours than me but no degree get a 2000 hour job before me?

It also seems that through a 4 year program at a big university, that there will be a lot of networking opportunities. Should I count on that to help me?

So given my situation, (VA is paying for my degree and licenses), should I be optimistic about my future as a pilot or should I expect to find myself in the same situation as 9.5 out of 10 of the other new pilots looking for work?

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Hell YES be optimistic...DO NOT be discouraged. There are a lot of folks here who are riding through the deep trough of reality right now who have a lot invested, and they are remaining positive. The industry is going to pick up. I'm a firm believer that a hard working individual who possesses good skills, integrity, has an easy-going "team" personality, perseveres, and show an interest/willingness to learn will always be in high demand. And, more often, helo pilots will describe their experiences more in terms of the adventure than the destination. You'll get there and have a lot of fun if that's what you really want to do - don't sweat the details yet. Also, you have now earned a great situation in which a wealthy uncle would be picking up the tab (mostly) for a valuable education. IMHO, a degree is valuable and can help - you can get a great understanding of things aviation without having to go to the school of hard knocks first. Kinda rambled here, as I often do, but keep the eye on the prize.



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Welcome to the forum!


Networking is the KEY in our world. Competition is fierce, so any contacts you make will help in the long run. Most jobs are filled by word of mouth. Don't ever give up. If this is your dream, don't let anyone tell you that you can't or wont get the job you want.

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I would suggest using the 4 yr. degree part to get yourself a 'real' job, because it will take a while to find one flying. From what I've heard employers like people with degrees outside their field. :huh:


You will learn all you need to know about flying during your training, why not use College to learn something else? In this industry, you need a good backup!


Don't be discouraged about becoming a pilot, that's the easy part. Its turning it into a career that seems next to impossible. :(


If I never find a job flying, at least I reached the dream of becoming a pilot. Flying once a month isn't the greatest, but its better than not at all! ;)

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The problem with getting a degree in something else for me is that I can not do that AND have the VA pay for my flight school. If I go with the pilot degree, I get the licenses with the degree and only have to pay for extra flight time.

I do always have other stuff to fall back on, I'll have my EMT license in a couple months and I do a lot of security work.

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  • 5 months later...

Ok so let's start at the beginning. Have you EVER been in a helicopter? Have you ever flown one?


It may seem great (it is!) but it also may not be for everyone. Some people have physical or medical issues that will keep them from doing it. Even just a fear of heights could hold you down (I hate flying over 1000 AGL, it's a long way down looking thru an open door frame!)


So step one, go do a couple intro flights and be sure you at least think this is something you can do. Then I would say go for it. You earned that degree with your service to our country and I am happy as a taxpayer to help pay for it!


Plenty of people out there with a 4 year degree unrelated to their line of work. You may struggle early on to find employment and take another job, but that degree will still help you be a notch above anyone without it.


Sounds like you have an interest in EMS. An aviation degree could help you land that EMS pilot job 10 years down the road.


Many people today just are not willing to put in time towards their career. I see it everytime I attend a FREE aviation event...an FAA seminar, FAAST seminar or PHPA training. I almost NEVER see a student pilot there, just usually the same 30 or so old guys.


Anyway be willing to dream, and plan for that job 10 or 15 years down the road. You may have some interim steps to take along the way. Relationships are everything, so be willing to build some along the way.


And most of all,

Edited by Goldy
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First off, yes get the degree and licenses on the VA. I would pick a minor study in something like business or maybe public safety (since you have already got a good start in that field). You already have contacts and networking set up at least some there.


Here is a post I made to another thread that gives alittle insight into picking a minor:


Sorry for the length.



Here are some stats gathered by a friend of mine while completing a dissertation for his PHD. He did his dissertation on the value of selecting a "good" minor study program.


He ramdomly selected 50 university graduates (same school) from 1995 and then interviewed/surveyed them in 2005.


His dissertation question was: How important is a "minor" study to a typical graduate?


Results after graduation:


At 1 year: 100% were in their major field & 0% in minor field

At 2 years: 98% were still working in their major field & 1% in minor field

At 5 years: 89% were in major & 10% in minor field

At 7 years: 63% were in their major & 35% in minor field

At 10 years: 48% were in their major & 47% in minor field


The interesting thing he found was their comments for them changing from major to minor fields as they got further away from graduation:


* company sold or taken-over

* spouse's job moved us could not find a job in my major

* company laid me off, had to find something quick

* poor health, had to find something better for me

* family health reasons, had to get better health coverage

* major field became boring


These were the common reasons for them switching.


In the end his conclusion was:


"Be careful what you choose as a "minor" field of study, because it could become a "major" provider for you!




I think you have an easy decision on the "major" field of study with the VA paying so much, your more difficult question, as I see it, is what would be best for the minor for the best back-up plan. I think you have already got that down too.


Capilalize on what you already have and go for it!


Best of luck & enjoy,



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joncsim's last post was in April; maybe he's so discouraged that he walked away from it...if he's reading, here's an old mans logic after a six pack:


1)Definetly knock the fiance'up as she will be the only one making any money.

2)Get a degree in something else besides aviation.

3)Goto baseops.net and go back into the military somewhere in KS w/ a sponsorship (part-time)knowing what exactly ur going to fly & all on uncle sam's dime.

4)Don't go civilian (into debt). Any one who thinks we are coming out of this recession anytime soon has their head in the sand or is trying to make money off of u! I'm looking for hyperinflation & a double dip in 2011, but i'm a "half-empty" type of guy.


Lastly, enjoy life! don't wait on a profession or career field to motivate you; its all about atitude! best of luck... if u believe in luck.

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Do the Degree. It does help, especially as you grow in your career. I almost didn't get the best flying job I ever had because I lacked a 4 year degree. Then, at that same job a couple years later, there was a promotional opportunity for the position of Assistant Chief Pilot. Although I was honestly not interested in the position, I was not even allowed to apply for the position because it required a 4 year degree.


The fact that someone else is paying for it, is good enough reason to do it. Just do it! :D

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Do the Degree. It does help, especially as you grow in your career. I almost didn't get the best flying job I ever had because I lacked a 4 year degree. Then, at that same job a couple years later, there was a promotional opportunity for the position of Assistant Chief Pilot. Although I was honestly not interested in the position, I was not even allowed to apply for the position because it required a 4 year degree.


The fact that someone else is paying for it, is good enough reason to do it. Just do it! :D



Well put. Going that route, there is that degree, which some people seem to care about.


Another thought is that being in the same boat as 9.5/10 of the pilots looking for work is at least being in the boat of a pilot looking for work. I can pretty much guarentee a zero percent chance of getting a pilot job without the pilot certificate.


Worst case is that you get a degree, and have one hell of a time doing it.... all paid for by the gratitude of your government for a job well done in the service.


win/win imho

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You've worked hard and earned having your education paid for by the government and in fact it was part of your contract when you enlisted. So use it to your advantage to cover all of your flight training expenses while at the same time earning a Bachelor of Science degree. There is nothing wrong with earning a degree in aviation and in fact combined with you prior military service, should provide you a competitive advantage when applying for state & federal agency flight crew positions once you've met the minimums.


A lot of people here will say otherwise but you need to be thinking four years into the future rather than what the economy is like today and by starting your training and education now, you'll be in a prime position as the industry picks back up. The first thing you'll hear everyone on this board rant about is attempting to attend flight school debt free, and you have earned that opportunity. K-State has a excellent program, so go for it and enjoy the opportunity to acquire your education debt free.

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