I am currently enrolled at University of North Dakota and am about a month in the flight program. I am very excited to be here and on my journey to the left seat.
I have been very fortunate to work at a flight school most of my teen years where I gained my private and 270 flight hours under my belt. I still have much to learn which is why I came to UND to pursue a commercial aviation degree to earn my R-ATP. However, I am very dissatisfied with the amount of time it will take to achieve my ratings here and symultainiusly how long I will be grounded between ratings. With my 270 hours of flight time I was able to complete all the requirements for my instrument and commercial checkride including both writtens. I came to UND in hopes of streamlining through my training and getting out fast but I now realize no matter what I do my training is staggered and both my writtens will expire before I even get the chance to take my checkrides. It does not make much financial sense coming from a lower mid-class family to stay. Nor does it make sense to stay for my aviation career but I am looking for some answers on ATP before I leave the security of a 4 year college that’s well known for producing pilots, to transition to ATP’s fast training program.
My alternate plan from UND would be to attend ATP within the next 3 months and be based out of Ft. Myers, Florida where I can stay at a friend’s house near the airport(Housing covered). I would then stay there 5 months as advertised or longer to earn my rating of CFII and then return to my home flight school where I am guaranteed a job as a flight instructor with a full schedule of students. After ATP I anticipate having 500 hours and all my ratings under my belt. My flight school at home is affiliated with a private charter that hires CFII to fly a PC-12 at around 700 hours. In its own respective pathway sort of manner I would be able to become a charter pilot relatively quick after instructing for a year. At this time I would be a sophomore/junior not in college but with all my ratings, taking online classes to uptain my associates at a local community college online on the side, while paying off my ATP Loan.
I have been informed by many that the degree is the safer path but it is hard to wrap my head around staying at UND. I like the idea of attending UND to have a degree to make me look more appealing to airline applications, and also something to fall back on if my medical fails. However, I like the idea of ATP to be fast and efficient and be able to maybe have the freedom of less debt than if I were to continue college now, and possibly be an island hopper or charter pilot one day soon.
Any suggestions or career advice would be very helpful. Any advice on staying at UND vs leaving to ATP is greatly appreciated too. It is a crazy world we are in and the airline industry is moving rapidly. Thanks in advance.
What you’re experiencing is the reason we greenbelt l don’t recommend university aviation programs. While UND is a fine school, these programs take far too long and are very expensive. Further while the Majors all want 4yr degrees, they don’t desire, require or even prefer aviation degrees nor will it help you get hired.
That said you will need a 4yr degree (a 2yr is meaningless), but we always recommend it be in something other than aviation as a backup, should flying not work out either by decision or circumstance. While we believe getting your degree first is best, everyone is in a hurry and we understand people want to get a jump on their careers. That’s fine but again know you will need a degree and many find it challenging returning to school (even online) after they’re flying.
Inevitably this is a decision only you can make but neither is a bad route.
Thank you so much for your great info. Out of curiosity, what would you recommend for my position? I am looking for a 4-year degree but am also motivated to do ATP while my FAA written’s are still current. I have good state schools I can confidently get into at home but am debating doing ATP first and then college after. While in college maybe instructing on the side to pay back my ATP Loan. I am open to all advice.
As I said, I’m always a fan of education first, but recognize you need to do what’s best for you.
What you don’t want is to complete your flight training, then go stagnant. These are perishable skills and airlines are weary of pilots with alot of downtime. With that in mind, you could do your training with ATP, instruct at your local flight school and maybe do 2yrs at Community College. Get hired at a Regional and then bang out the other 2yrs online with credit for you CC Assoc. and your licenses and ratings. While again I’m not a fan of Aviation degrees, getting one quick ONCE you’re already working in the industry reduces the need for the back up. Your call?
It sounds like you’ve got a case of “get there-itus”. Staying on your path you will get there. I fly with UND grads all the time at Skywest. However, dropping out and doing ATP you will get there sooner. It’s really your call and how badly you want to get there and how much you’re willing to grind to cut off that time.
As Adam wrote out, it’s doable. ATP, build time while taking online classes and finish your degree while at the regionals. It will take considerable commitment to not only keep your flying skills sharp and keep your employer happy but also making good grades in online courses.