Many people dream of piloting planes, helicopters, and other aircraft, a goal that is achievable through attending aviation school. Along with flying planes, pilots are responsible for the overall condition of the aircraft from checking fuel to preparing flight plans. They often work a variable schedule and travel all over the globe.
In order to become a commercial or airline pilot, it is necessary to obtain a bachelor’s degree, license, and certificate. Aviation schools are one of the first steps to achieve this goal. Through specialized courses, aviation students are well-trained in subjects such as advanced flight operations, aerodynamics, air navigation, jet engines, and meteorology. In addition, they learn from qualified aviation experts and are trained on state-of-the-art equipment.
While in aviation school, aspiring pilots are surrounded by people who understand flying and are passionate about the subject. This immersive environment is good for networking and can lead to a career in the airline industry. Due to partnerships with airlines, many aviation schools provide internship and career opportunities that are otherwise challenging to find. In addition, the hands-on training and work experience help develop many necessary qualities such as communication, problem-solving, and a quick reaction time.
As a result of the high responsibility involved with piloting a plane, airline pilots earn an average salary of $160,000. However, this value varies based on the education and level of training, making it essential to go to a top university.
Here are the ten best aviation schools in the United States, based on each program’s greater university ranking in the US News National Universities list.
10. Louisiana Tech University (Ruston, LA)
Since 1967, Louisiana Tech University has had a national reputation for outstanding graduates. The Professional Aviation and Aviation Management programs emphasize the knowledge, skills, and experience to create leaders in the aviation industry. In addition, there is a solid network of graduates, including airport planners, commercial pilots, flight school instructors, and transportation and development specialists.
Students have the opportunity to learn from ground, simulator, and flight training year-round. In 2017, the university obtained a new fleet of 12 Cessna Skyhawk and Piper Arrow aircraft. In addition, LTU has aviation management cooperative agreements with many Fixed Based Operators in the region, including the Louisiana Airport Managers Association and Ruston Regional Airport. Thanks to the links with industry, LTU aviation students enjoy many internship programs with major air carriers, regional airlines, corporate aviation, and government organizations.
9. South Dakota State University (Brookings, SD)
South Dakota State University provides high-quality aviation training at competitive rates. On campus, aviation students learn from 28 full and part-time flight instructors and 14 airplanes. The senior capstone course helps to bridge the gap between education and practice as students are evaluated to ensure competency.
Aviation students can choose between two specializations to further their education. Aviation Education is for students who wish to become Certified Flight Instructors and professional pilots in industry.
Bringing on top students and alumni as SDSU flight instructors allows aviation graduates to improve the program they were once a part of. The aviation maintenance management specialization teaches students to repair and maintain aircraft.
As a result of the in-depth aviation programs, 100% of the Class of 2019 were placed into professional flight positions. The majority were employed as flight instructors, while others went on to airlines such as United, SkyWest, and Republic Airways.
8. University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)
The University of North Dakota provides a liberal arts core curriculum combined with professional aviation education. The specialized undergraduate programs include air traffic management, airport management, aviation management, aviation safety & operations, aviation studies, commercial aviation, and unmanned aircraft systems operations.
Including the largest collegiate training fleet in the world, students in any aviation program are trained in state-of-the-art facilities. This includes over 100 aircraft and simulators, VR training devices, and a hypobaric chamber to experience the physiological effects of high-altitude flight.
Through immersive hands-on flight control hardware and simulation software, students have access to many training opportunities.
The University of North Dakota focuses on a hands-on curriculum without sacrificing safety. The school has the first and only collegiate program to achieve the highest level of Safety Management System compliance.
7. Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, MI)
With over 1,100 undergraduates, Western Michigan University has one of the most extensive aviation programs in the nation. In addition, it is the only comprehensive aviation program at a public university in Michigan. These achievements show how WMU is a powerful force in the future of aviation training.
The next leaders in aviation are trained on a fleet of 50 aircraft. By constantly evaluating the planes, the department is able to make upgrades and ensure that students have access to the latest equipment. These aircraft are used for everything from aviation maintenance to flight school.
WMU’s Aviate program, a pilot career development initiative, shows how the school’s graduates are highly trained and sought-after.
6. Utah State University (Logan, UT)
At Utah State University, aviation students learn from skilled professors from a variety of backgrounds. The staff of Certified Flight Instructors help students get the necessary hands-on training they need to pass their check-ride and prepare them for their future careers. Due to the smaller class sizes, students have an individual learning experience.
The school’s restricted ATP program means that pilots can enter the industry at a lower minimum hour requirement than other programs. In addition, the fast track to flying with an airline allows aviation students to get a jump start on their careers through thorough and efficient training.
Utah State organizations allow students to network with peers of similar interests and backgrounds. The NIFA Flight Team, created for aviation enthusiasts, hosts social gatherings and professional development trips. Students interested in unmanned aerial systems can participate in DroneWorx.
5. Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS)
Kansas State University is home to more Master Certified Aviation Instructors than any other school nationwide. This staff of accomplished and practiced flight instructors provides aviation students with a top-tier education. Meteorology, aerodynamics, advanced aircraft systems, and flight labs are just some of the courses that they teach. Outside of aviation classes, Kansas State students study additional subjects from management to business ethics.
Salina Regional Airport, right next door to Kansas State, provides both education and experience. It houses a 12,300-foot runway along with crosswind and parallel runways to provide training above and beyond the minimum requirements. Kansas State graduates are confident to fly in all conditions and exceed industry expectations.
With a 98% program placement rate, aviation graduates are highly successful, whether they choose to be flight instructors or airline captains. Kansas State alumni go on to be airline, cargo, charter, corporate, and military pilots.
4. Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, IN)
Valparaiso University was the pilot training site for the Civilian Aeronautics Authority in the early 1940s. Today, the aviation program aims to serve the community, region, and nation with the mission of preparing students to learn, fly, and serve.
At Valparaiso University, students develop an understanding of aeronautical and flight principles and an appreciation of liberal arts through general education coursework. Although the program has been around for less than a decade, it shows the innovative culture of the university and growth across academic offerings. Graduates have the opportunity to join flight crews, aviation management, and airport management.
Tom Cedel, a distinguished visiting professor and retired Air Force pilot, assisted in the creation of the program. In addition, the greater Valparaiso community is home to many aviation professionals. The aviation program is supported by an Advisory Council of flight crews from all major air carriers.
3. Auburn University (Auburn, AL)
Auburn University aviation students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at the school’s regional airport and the Delta Air Lines Aviation Education Building. The state-of-the-art facilities include classrooms, debriefing rooms, and flight simulators. Spread across over 420 acres, the airport consists of aircraft fleet, simulator fleet, and professional flight practice areas.
Aviation students can earn up to six credit hours for an internship or cooperative education, combining education with practical work experience. Whether in industry or government, Auburn students are connected to a hub of world-class aviation organizations. This includes multiple accelerated career paths with airlines such as Delta and JetBlue.
Auburn graduates join a network of over 4,000 aviation alumni who are leaders in their field. In addition, the university has been actively involved with aviation education for over 80 years, meaning that graduates are well-known for their contributions to the industry.
2. Baylor University (Waco, TX)
Baylor is known for balancing aeronautical theory and application. This includes hands-on experience through ground school and flight school training courses. As a result, aviation students will graduate with flying qualifications to the Commercial Pilot level and a Certified Flight Instructor certificate.
Outside of aviation training, the well-rounded education at Baylor includes political science, english, communication, and computer science. Students can choose from a variety of advanced elective courses in anything from aviation law to meteorology to pursue their passions.
Outside of aviation, Baylor is a nationally-recognized research institution. The Space Weather Research Laboratory supports studies of the space environment and solar-terrestrial interaction. In order to further their education, students participate in research projects alongside faculty.
1. Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Purdue is known for industry connections, working together with airlines and other companies to build a strong future in aviation and aerospace. By taking industry needs into account, the aviation curriculum prepares students for a successful career. In addition, the Aviation Career Fair presents employers with aviation-focused students.
In addition, Purdue is a leader in aviation research. The Grand Challenges in Aviation and Transportation inspire faculty and students alike to make new discoveries in many research areas. In particular, the university focuses on sustainability, safety, and quality and their ties to aviation.
The Transportation Research Board’s annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs invites teams to collaborate and find practical solutions. In 2020, three teams from Purdue won first place in three airport challenges.
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There are 943 Flying Schools businesses in the US as of 2022, an increase of 3.2% from 2021.What is the number one flight school in the US? ›
|1||Purdue School of Aviation and Technology||West Lafayette, Indiana|
|2||University of North Dakota Department of Aviation||Grand Forks, North Dakota|
|3||Embry – Riddle Aeronautical University||Daytona Beach, Florida|
|4||Lewis University||Romeoville, Illinois|
Bachelor of Aviation
The most common type of higher education to pursue when you want to be a pilot is a bachelor's degree in aviation. Some higher education institutions offer this degree as part of a Bachelor of Science (BS) program, and others offer aviation education as part of a Bachelor of Arts (BA) program.
- Phoenix, AZ. This is certainly a city of transplants. ...
- Chicago, IL. Chicago is one of the best cities for professionals, as it's a city with opportunities and a steady job market. ...
- Denver, CO. You'll enjoy the view and atmosphere in Denver, CO. ...
- Los Angeles, CA. ...
- Seattle, WA. ...
- Houston, TX.
In addition to the faster training, overall prices in the US for the same training are typically as much as 50% less as one might get in the UK or Europe.How long does it take to study pilot in USA? ›
Even if you are presently only looking to become a private pilot, getting a complete education will prepare you best. Ideally, becoming a pilot should only take 3 to 4 years, the time it takes to get your Bachelor of Science in Professional Flight.What is total cost of pilot training in USA? ›
How Much Does it Cost to Become a Pilot? It costs $91,995 to become a pilot when starting with no previous experience or $71,995 when starting with a private pilot certificate. Both prices include the flight training and certification necessary to become a commercial pilot with flight instructor certificates.Which country is best to study pilot? ›
- The UK. Being home to the Royal Air Force, the United Kingdom has a rich history in the field of aviation. ...
- The Philippines. ...
- Greece. ...
- The US. ...
Greek pilots are frequently voted by their NATO counterparts as being the best in the world.Which airline is best for pilots in World? ›
Pilots for United Airlines are some of the most well paid, they fly to some of the most desirable locations, and they enjoy some of the best benefits in the industry.
Yes, being a pilot is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for airline and commercial pilots over the next ten years. This is faster than the average growth for all occupations.Are pilots in demand in USA? ›
Pilots are back in demand in the United States. But carriers cannot find enough of them, so foreign pilots are rushing to fill the empty cockpits. U.S. immigration lawyers report a surge in inquiries and visa applications from pilots based in countries where traffic is still recovering from pandemic lows.Is a pilot degree hard? ›
Acquiring a commercial pilot license is not difficult at all. Anyone can study the basics and pass their exams to become a commercial pilot. Acquiring a commercial pilot is only 50% of the actual work. The other 50% is to get flying hours and gain knowledge to qualify as a competent pilot.Do airlines prefer pilots with degrees? ›
The answer is no. Getting an aviation degree or going to an aviation college is not a requirement to become an airline pilot. In fact, major airlines accept any and all bachelor fields and aren't the least bit concerned with what you studied in college.Is pilot hard to study? ›
However, becoming a pilot is as realistic as any other profession. The idea of flying an airbus seems quite difficult as a proposition and so we think of much less challenging professions. We can all agree that no profession is easy nor difficult but when it comes to flying, it's not for everyone.What is the average life of a pilot? ›
The second came from the US Airline Pilots Association and looked at pilot deaths after the age of 60. Analysing these two sources, the study's authors deduced that the average age of death for pilots was 61, compared to the average age of death of the general population, which was 63.What kind of pilots are in demand? ›
- Drone pilot.
- Cargo pilot.
- Flight instructor.
- First officer.
- Private pilot.
- Agricultural pilot.
- Airline pilot.
|Total Airline Pilot Jobs:||6|
|Lowest 10 Percent Earn:||$76,000|
|Highest 10 Percent Earn:||$120,000|
|First Officer (Year 1)||Captain (Year 12)|
|Salary for United Airlines Pilots||$93,820||$298,456|
|Salary for Delta Air Lines Pilots||$100,840||$346,636|
|Salary for American Airlines Pilots||$98,800||$361,096|
|Salary for FedEx Pilots||$95,596||$373,432|
|Annual Salary||Monthly Pay|
As of Oct 21, 2022, the average monthly pay for a Pilot in the United States is $9,593 a month. While ZipRecruiter is seeing monthly salaries as high as $23,583 and as low as $3,417, the majority of Pilot salaries currently range between $5,000 (25th percentile) to $11,083 (75th percentile) across the United States.How many hours do pilots work a week? ›
Airline pilots fly an average of 75 hours per month and work an additional 150 hours per month performing other duties, such as checking weather conditions and preparing flight plans. Pilots have variable work schedules that may include some days of work followed by some days off.
Accelerated Flight School
These flight schools offer full-time, fast-paced, structured flight training that set students on an airline pilot career path toward one of their regional partner airlines. These schools will allow students to receive all their initial certifications and ratings in as little as 10 months.
There are so many countries you can choose to kick-start your pilot training. But it takes less time and offers more value to get the certification of the pilot training in the USA. Thus, the USA is the best country for pilot training.How much does a full time pilot cost? ›
|Pilot Certificate||Certificate Cost (From zero experience)|
|Sport Pilot License||$4,000 – $6,000|
|Private Pilot License||$8,300 – $12,300|
|Commercial Pilot License||$28,000 to $90,000|
|Flight Instructor License||$32,000 -$95,000|
Pilot training in India cost about 35-40 lacs from a DGCA approved reputed flight school, for getting a Commercial Pilot license along with a multi-engine instrument rating.How many hours does it take to be a pilot? ›
The FAA requires 1500 hours for a pilot to become an Airline Transport Pilot. Learn more about the steps to become a pilot and additional commercial pilot license requirements, including frequently asked questions about who can become a commercial airline pilot.Who is the No 1 pilot in the world? ›
Charles Yeager was a former fighter pilot and officer in the United States Air Force. Yeager is widely regarded as the best pilot in the world, with a vast list of achievements to support that claim. He was the first pilot ever to travel faster than the speed of sound, attaining Mach 1.07 in 1947.Which country is easiest to become a pilot? ›
After the USA, the next country which comes into mind regarding unmatched quality in pilot training for Indian students has sure got to be Canada.Which country has the highest demand for pilots? ›
You can find all the Pilot job offers in countries like China, Japan and South Korea here!
Erich Hartmann, with 352 official kills the highest scoring fighter pilot of all time.What US pilot has the most kills? ›
Top Image: Major Richard Bong courtesy of the US Air Force. Known as the “Ace of Aces” for his rank as the top American flying ace during World War II, Major Richard Ira Bong is credited with the downing of an impressive confirmed total of 40 enemy aircraft over the course of his career as a fighter pilot.Who is the best fighter pilot to ever live? ›
1. Erich „Bubi“ Hartmann. Erich Hartmann is the most successful fighter pilot of all times – with 352 kills. A number that will never be surpassed.What airline treats their pilots the best? ›
Southwest is known for its friendly culture and good working conditions. Pilots at Southwest Airlines also get great benefits, like free travel for their families. And they have a very good safety record. Plus, they offer a hefty salary, to their pilots.
- Cargo pilot. National average salary:$63,988 per year. ...
- Flight instructor. National average salary:$66,373 per year. ...
- Airline transport pilot. National average salary:$84,372 per year. ...
- Agricultural pilot. ...
- Ambulatory pilot. ...
- Helicopter pilot. ...
- Government service pilot. ...
- Military pilot.
GPA Depends Upon Your Career Path to Become a Pilot
If your GPA is anywhere from a 3.0 to a 4.0 and you have considerable other qualifications and experience, you'll likely be viewed favorably.
1) Aircraft Systems
One of the toughest topics for private pilot students is aircraft systems.
In addition to decent compensation, commercial pilots also receive perks, such as free travel, food, lodging, and other allowances. A commercial pilot's job is nothing like a 9-to-5 job. Unlike a regular 9 to 5 job, the working hours of a commercial pilot are not set in stone.What is a pilots salary 2022? ›
How much does a Airline Pilot make in the United States? The average Airline Pilot salary in the United States is $145,301 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $125,801 and $164,001.Do American pilots get paid well? ›
How much does a Pilot make at American Airlines in the United States? Average American Airlines Pilot yearly pay in the United States is approximately $146,306, which is 159% above the national average.
Flight times within the duty periods are restricted to a maximum of 8 hours for flight crews consisting of one pilot and 10 hours for flight crews consisting of two pilots. The 8-hour and 10-hour flight time limitations include any additional commercial flying performed by the flight crew during the period.Is going to college for aviation worth it? ›
Yes, being a pilot is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for airline and commercial pilots over the next ten years. This is faster than the average growth for all occupations.Which aviation course has highest salary? ›
- Aerospace technician. ...
- Aircraft mechanic. ...
- Pilot. ...
- Test engineer. ...
- Airport executive. ...
- Aeronautical engineer. National average salary:$102,294 per year. ...
- Propulsion engineer. National average salary:$108,286 per year. ...
- Avionics engineer. National average salary:$152,054 per year.
Curriculum. The curriculum of an aviation concentrated degree can be tough for some international students. This degree is very technical in nature. Like other degree paths, aviation based degree programs require sixty credits of general education requirements.How difficult is aviation school? ›
The flight school will be challenging if the student pilot does not make an effort during their ground schooling. Furthermore, the early stage of a pilot's flight training is pretty straightforward. As you progress into advanced flying procedures and maneuvers, it will get more laborious.Which country is best for aviation? ›
- The UK. Being home to the Royal Air Force, the United Kingdom has a rich history in the field of aviation. ...
- The Philippines. ...
- Greece. ...
- The US. ...
Also, the degree provides the candidate with a comprehensive background in aviation studies, management, and business to prepare students for careers such as airline operation, air transportation, airport management, airport consulting, aircraft manufacturing, sales, and aviation insurance.Which airline pays highest salary to pilots 2022? ›
- Spirit Airlines. Spirit Airlines is a major American ultra-low-cost carrier operating throughout the US, Caribbean, and Latin America. ...
- Frontier Airlines. ...
- American Airways. ...
- Sun Country Airlines. ...
- Hawaiian Airlines.