Stephen Pope, the senior editor of Flying Magazine, recently wrote that now is an excellent time to join the aviation field. He mentions that for individuals wanting to join the industry, enrolling at an aviation college could be the best ticket to reaching that goal. Fortunately for those living in Oklahoma, there is an excellent opportunity nearby – OU Aviation, a department of the University of Oklahoma College of Professional and Continuing Studies.
OU Aviation prides itself on being one of the best schools in the nation for students looking for quality aviation instruction. OU Aviation offers a bachelor’s degree in aviation with a variety of concentrations, including professional pilot, aviation management – flying as well as air traffic management and aviation management – non-flying for those who don’t wish to fly. All of the concentrations are accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International. Additionally, OU is one of only a few institutions across the nation authorized by the FAA to give flight hour credits toward a restricted air transport FAA license, saving future professional pilots a lot of money.
Pope noted that a degree from an accredited university goes a long way for those pursuing a career in aviation. Students can become licensed in fewer hours while benefiting from full immersion into the field. He also points out that tuition costs are not insurmountable, and are often comparable to out-of-state tuition from other competitive university programs.
“If your aim is to become a professional pilot, one of the traditional paths is to sign up for flying lessons at a local flight school,” wrote Pope. “There’s certainly wisdom in that suggestion, but it might not be the best choice for long-term success for every pilot. If your objective is to land a job flying for a major airline, it’s important to understand that the rules of the game have changed in favor of getting an aviation degree.”
For those interested in working in the aviation industry who also want a well-rounded education, OU Aviation provides undergraduate majors with the knowledge and skills of a competent pilot, air traffic controller, and/or industry professional while also providing students a broad liberal education and business concentration. This balanced education gives students a competitive advantage while looking for a job after graduation and will help them advance later in their careers.
The University of Oklahoma offers an opportunity for aviation graduates to obtain a job working in the industry immediately after graduation. For instance, American Airlines has partnered with OU and other universities to develop and hire pilots. If students graduate in four years and maintain a high enough GPA, they are guaranteed an interview with American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines. If they are hired, the new pilots will also receive a $10,000 signing bonus, meant to help offset the cost of their education. This partnership was recently highlighted by WFAA, a news channel in Dallas-Fort Worth, in both an online news article and a segment on TV.
“When I look back over the last 40 years, this pipeline agreement is one of the best opportunities for men and women pursuing an airline career,” said Ken Carson, director of OU Aviation. “With the growth of emerging markets and air cargo from around the globe, this is an industry that will see steady growth going forward.”
In his article, Pope also observed that the value of a degree program is sky high relative to previous years. There has never been a better time to enroll in an aviation degree program.
“For the right type of person,” wrote Pope, “pursuing an aviation degree can offer the surest path to a long and rewarding career — and quite possibly make you a better professional pilot. The opportunity to become 100 percent immersed in aviation subjects is another strong factor for college students who choose an aviation program over other degree paths.”
For students wanting to fly professionally who also crave the big college experience, OU Aviation is an obvious choice. By pursuing a degree in aviation, students can focus on what they really want to learn – flying – while still experiencing the best the University of Oklahoma has to offer. Not everyone who wants to work in the aviation industry wants to fly, and OU Aviation offers two non-flying degrees – aviation management (non-flying concentration) and aviation management (air traffic management concentration). These programs feature the same high-quality education as the flying concentrations and will prepare students to meet the growing demand for management positions within the aviation industry.
“The other fields of aviation are also very attractive – there is a major shortage of air traffic controllers in addition to the aviation jobs found in corporate aviation and all other parts of the industry,” said Carson.
OU Aviation also provides aviation education to students in kindergarten through high school through their nationally recognized OU Sooner Flight Academy. Summer camp enrollment for the flight academy will begin March 1.
“If your goal is to learn to fly,” wrote Pope, “attending an aviation college will get you behind the controls of some fantastic airplanes as you interact with enthusiastic instructors and other passionate young aviators, all while living your dream of learning the art and science of becoming a well-trained pro.”