Aviation Programs

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Aviation programs are aimed at training airline and commercial pilots. Once students complete the required coursework, they are qualified to fly airplanes, helicopters, and other types of aircraft.

The goal of these workers is to transport passengers and cargo safely and efficiently to their intended locations.

Educational Requirements

While airline pilots and commercial pilots both fly professionally, the two careers require different aviation degrees because of the varied responsibilities and skills involved.


When it comes to aviation resume requirements, commercial pilots need a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also get a commercial pilot license from an FAA-approved aviation school, which can take over 500 hours of training.

These pilots can legally fly for a maximum of 60 hours per month.

Airline Pilots

Airline pilots need a bachelor’s degree, preferably one in an aviation field. These workers need a commercial pilot license as well as an FAA-issued Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

Earning this credential requires 1,500 hours of in-flight training. For these associates, flight times can reach up to 75 hours per month.

To get commercially licensed, potential pilots undergo comprehensive exams. They submit to medical screenings and go through physical fitness and vision tests.

In order to display their flight knowledge, prospects have to pass both a written quiz and a practical assessment. Throughout their careers, pilots undergo random tests for strength and practical ability.

Airline pilots often begin their careers as flight instructors. Other newcomers choose to become commercial or military pilots.

The United States Armed Forces has some of the best aviation schools available anywhere in the world. Those who have held Air Force or navy aviation jobs do not need a bachelor’s degree to apply for airline pilot positions.


There are over 124,000 people in the United States with aviation careers. Depending on experience and ability, workers earn salaries between $80k and $115k.

In-demand pilots may earn yearly pay in excess of these amounts.

Below are average salaries for each state.

Alabama $121,290.00
Alaska $154,730.00
Arizona $215,530.00
Arkansas $144,510.00
California $252,110.00
Colorado $185,960.00
Connecticut $166,060.00
Florida $270,720.00
Georgia $217,820.00
Idaho $209,580.00
Illinois $221,580.00
Iowa $168,280.00
Kansas $115,540.00
Louisiana $92,600.00
Maine $150,310.00
Michigan $236,970.00
Minnesota $174,070.00
Mississippi $115,380.00
Missouri $217,730.00
Nebraska $120,950.00
Nevada $193,240.00
New Jersey $172,480.00
New Mexico $155,850.00
New York $229,120.00
North Carolina $169,340.00
Ohio $204,940.00
Oklahoma $120,250.00
Oregon $169,410.00
Puerto Rico $60,420.00
South Carolina $112,870.00
Tennessee $105,460.00
Texas $212,940.00
Virginia $209,730.00
Washington $278,260.00
Wisconsin $87,430.00
Wyoming $106,980.00

source: data.bls.gov
Occupation:Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers (SOC Code532011)

Career Overview

What Are Aviation Job Duties?

Aircraft pilots review a plane’s status before and after takeoff. They confirm fuel levels and check components for proper function.

Associates verify weight limits and review cargo balance to prevent uneven distribution. They also ensure that freight and passengers are properly loaded aboard the aircraft.

Pilots are responsible for many aspects of flight. This includes constant assessment of various systems such as engines, rotors, and navigation gear.

They need to track fuel consumption and react wisely when bad weather or mechanical issues arise. To help with decision-making, air traffic control experts maintain communication with pilots via radio.

Pilots must follow planned routes, watching for hazards along the way. To pursue the correct path, workers use visual references, landmarks, and various aviation tools.

When flying at low levels, pilots need to watch for obstacles such as transmission towers and power lines.

It’s important for workers to keep aircraft under control during takeoff and landing procedures. These are the toughest parts of a flight, requiring teamwork amongst pilots, air traffic control, and ground staff.

After each flight, pilots complete review forms to make note of anything unusual. These documents also record the status of an aircraft, which helps workers schedule airline maintenance checks.

During aviation training, recruits learn to review flight path weather conditions for safety. Based on these findings, pilots then devise plans and submit them to air traffic control for review.

Air traffic controllers may modify flight plans due to poor climate conditions or other factors.

What Types of Skills Should Airline Pilots Possess?

  • Dedication, as the occupation requires long hours
  • Strong teamwork abilities to coordinate with copilots and air traffic control
  • Knowledge of how an airplane operates for troubleshooting purposes
  • Fast reaction times to quickly avoid obstacles, debris, or other types of danger
  • An aptitude for problem-solving when issues arise unexpectedly
  • A knack for observation to monitor gauges, screens, and dials
  • Strong social skills, as pilots interact with many types of people
  • Exceptional speaking abilities to clearly convey information to crew members

While controlling airplanes, pilots and copilots sit in small cockpits. They receive directions from air traffic control during emergencies like storms or equipment failure.

Potentials cannot be claustrophobic or easily agitated when confined, as pilots remain in tight-quarters during flights.

Aircraft pilots must possess superior vision and hearing abilities along with fast reaction times. They need excellent problem-solving skills for making quick life-and-death decisions.

All professional pilots need an FAA-issued commercial pilot license. This is obtainable through approved aviation classes or by means of a certified private instructor.

Future pilots working towards an online aviation degree must eventually go through the same real-world training as all other aviation students.

Why Do Airline Pilots Need Excellent Eyesight?

The ability to see clearly is crucial when piloting an aircraft. In order to maintain safety, it is important for those operating airplanes to have an accurate perception of depth and color.

A recruit’s vision cannot be any worse than 20/70 in each eye. Their vision must be correctable to 20/20 with contact lenses or glasses. Pilots who do require vision correction always carry backup glasses or contacts during flight.

Airline vs Commercial Pilots

Airline Pilots

There are two types of professional pilots, airline and commercial. Airline pilots work on fixed schedules to transport cargo and passengers, and they operate planes such as the Boeing 747. These workers fly both short and long-distance routes, spending long stretches of time away from home.

Two airline pilots are at the helm during each commercial flight. The most experienced pilot is the captain. He or she is responsible for all onboard activities and supervises the entire staff.

Older model planes need a third pilot, also called the flight engineer, to monitor instruments. Although once prominent in the aviation industry, flight engineers are becoming less common as technology now takes care of most of their tasks.

Captains may have their copilots fly aircraft at times, but they are still ultimately responsible for the plane’s well-being. This includes protecting its passenger or cargo from malicious acts. In order to do so, many pilots are trained to use firearms.

Commercial Pilots

Commercial pilots work on less-fixed schedules, and in many cases, they do not work for major airlines. They often spend more time at home than airline pilots.

These associates fly craft during aerial tours, charter flights, and topdressing jobs to fertilize crops. Commercial pilots who spray farms from above with pesticides are known as crop dusters.

Nonflight tasks for commercial pilots include scheduling aircraft maintenance and loading or unloading cargo. They may also assist air traffic controllers in coordinating departure or arrival times.

Rescue missions and firefighting operations rely on commercial pilots to man aircraft utilized during potentially dangerous situations.

Career Outlook

Pilots are important members of modern society, as without them, airline travel would not be possible. Job growth is at four percent, which is a bit slower than the national average compared to all occupations.

However, the number of pilots retiring from the industry offsets this a bit.

Work Environment

Airline pilots may spend several nights a week away from home. Flight assignments often involve overnight layovers and irregular schedules.

Pilots work in cramped quarters alongside copilots and crewmembers for extended periods. Sometimes associates experience jetlag and fatigue, especially during long-distance or international flights.

On average, airline pilots fly for about 75 hours per month. They cannot exceed this number due to federal regulations.

Pilots spend another 150 hours per month with other tasks like prepping flight plans and monitoring weather conditions.

Their schedules are often variable, meaning they work for several days in a row followed by breaks of about two to four days.

Piloting work can be tiring. Aviation pilots must know how to adjust their flying altitude when weather circumstances result in turbulence.

The stress endured by being responsible for passenger safety can get overwhelming. Due to the need for pilots to remain healthy and alert, federal law necessitates their retirement at age 65.

Where Can They Work?

Many pilots choose to take their talents to the military, where they can improve their skills and earn credentials.

Some work for ferry services, which fly newly purchased airplanes to the owner’s location of choice.

Those with an aviation degree can choose from many industries, including:

  • Airline entities
  • Transportation companies
  • Hospitals
  • Government
  • Flight instruction schools
  • Manufacturing and transport businesses
  • Postal and other delivery services

Some pilots get into the field of education, drawing on their experience to train students for flight. These workers use 3D simulators and dual-controlled aircraft to teach the next generation of pilots how to fly safely and efficiently.

Other Career Options

Air Traffic Control

Air traffic controllers organize the motion of planes in the air in order to prevent collisions. They communicate with pilots and ground crews during takeoff and landing, coordinating everyone’s efforts to ensure safety.

These associates keep pilots up-to-date about important info such as runway closures or inclement weather conditions. Workers in this industry earn median salary packages of over $120k per year.

Agricultural Piloting

For pilots who love to farm and enjoy flying low to the ground, an agricultural pilot career may be the perfect fit. These workers fly planes over crops in order to release controlled doses of pesticide or fertilizer.

They need to not only prepare and monitor the load they carry, but ensure their plane is in working order prior to each flight. These associates make a good living, earning anywhere from $40k to $50k per year.

See also Aircraft Mechanic.