Aviation Schools Are Taking Off

Female pilot with arms crossed standing beside a plane.
The number of aviation schools with hands-on learning opportunities is skyrocketing.

Aviation Schools Are Taking Off

Published May 14, 2023

The number of aviation schools with hands-on learning opportunities is skyrocketing.
Female pilot with arms crossed standing beside a plane.

For students interested in becoming pilots, the number of aviation schools have been growing at a rate of 2.3% per year between 2018 and 2023, which means opportunities abound.

A parent in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group recently requested recommendations for schools that offer aviation-related opportunities, and the community responded in spades. 

Hands-On Learning in Aviation School 

It turns out that many colleges, such as Purdue University, Texas A&M University, and Ohio State University, have airports on campus that are owned and operated by the schools, providing students with access to myriad hands-on learning opportunities.

Aviation schools that are close to airports tend to provide many of the same training opportunities. “My son has a close friend in one of the aviation tech programs at Lewis University in the Chicago suburbs,” said Shannon M. “It’s mechanical in nature, not pilot/flight-related, but the proximity to both Midway and O’Hare airports has meant great internship and job opportunities.”

Others, such as Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, have partnerships with airlines that ensure students have jobs once they graduate. “Those admitted to the program [at Middle Tennessee State] are guaranteed a pilot job with Delta Airlines,” said Michele N., who toured the campus with her daughter.

Beyond the Runway at Aviation Schools 

Some aviation schools combine aviation degrees with other fields. “St. Louis University’s aviation and engineering departments are combined,” said Carla C. “There are also nearby airports and flight schools with lots of opportunities.”

Others create a community of aviation enthusiasts with myriad opportunities to explore careers. Kim L. told the group that at Auburn University in Alabama, there’s a “flying team, an aviation fraternity, and other organizations that are very popular and well-run.”  

“Metropolitan State University Denver has a strong Aviation and Aerospace Sciences program, but what makes it AMAZING is its relationships with the area’s growing aerospace and aeronautical companies (think Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Ball Aerospace),” said Colleen K. “There are soooo many opportunities within these companies!”   

Where To Find Great Aviation Schools

Below is a list of a few more schools that some of the parents in our Paying for College Facebook Group recommend, but parent Shona W. noted “there is also a list on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. There is even a Facebook group called Raising Aviation Teens that is super helpful.” 

A company called Envoy Air, which operates American Eagle routes for American Airlines, is also a great resource. “They have a list of schools that they partner with for their cadet programs,” Ma Y told the parenting group. “American Airlines gets a lot of pilots from there.”

A World of Opportunity

While one parent in the group expressed concern that attending pilot school would pigeon-hole her student, other parents emphasized the need for these skilled professionals. 

“Pilots are desperately needed,” said Judith L. “Classes can be used to go into engineering or another field if she changes her mind.”

 Brooke S. agreed. “Airlines are experiencing a pilot shortage and I’m just sharing that for at least the next 10 years, they will be hiring pilots like crazy! It’s a great time to get into aviation for those young adults looking.”

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