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University - what's the alternative?

Alexandra O'Loughlin09 Aug 2017 Posted in: Insider, university, Pilot jobs, INTEGRATED COURSE, be a pilot, CLEARING

Look to pilot training for an exciting alternative to university…

If you’ve not got the A’Level results you expected then please do not be despondent. Maybe there is an alternative to university you've just not considered yet?

The path to university is likely to be one you’ve considered since completing your GCSEs, and it can be an exciting adventure. The downside is, of course, the cost and the competitive graduate job market.

Pilot training could be the alternative you perhaps never considered. You don’t need to be an expert in aeronautics, an air cadet or have a degree in Mathematics. The pathway to becoming a commercial pilot has never been more straightforward. So before you head into the stress and panic that characterises ‘clearing’ perhaps take a step back and consider a completely different option.

The entry requirements for pilot training at FTA are as follows:

  • 5 GCSEs (including Maths and English)
  • 2 A’Levels (preferred but not required)
  • be aged 18 or above
  • Possess an EASA class 1 medical certificate 

Degrees have long been regarded as a prerequisite for a long and successful career, but this simply isn’t true anymore.

Because pilot training is vocational and focused, the most important qualifications are English and Maths at GCSE. A'Levels are not required but will prove very beneficial when you embark on the theoretical side of your training. What you do need, regardless of your qualifications, is the right approach to the career: focus, determination, and the ability to study and retain key information. 

You will be taught everything you need to know about becoming a pilot during your training, however, if you want to see if you already possess some of the skills and knowledge you'll need, then try out our little quiz: Can I become an airline pilot?

A career as a pilot is desirable, accessible and a worthwhile investment. The pilot role is one that is highly skilled, well-paid and rewarding; and many pilots working today don’t have a degree.

As FTA’s Jonathan Candelon explained to Pilot Career News, We believe that commercial pilot training offers a viable, alternative form of academic and vocational study and a valid career option when compared with the more traditional route of college and a university degree. At events like Pilot Careers Live, we meet many aspiring pilots and parents, considering pilot training but often, parents are looking for the ‘security’ of a traditional degree when thinking about their son or daughter’s career path.”

Real prospects

In July 2015 there were 62,750 entry level jobs available to graduates across the UK, more than 350,000 graduates leaving university that summer were expected to apply for these positions. On average there were 3.98 applicants to every graduate position - a figure which rises to over 35 in the more competitive regions of London and the South East. These statistics, published by the Telegraph last year are in complete contrast to prospects in the aviation industry: In 2015, only 4,000 commercial pilot licenses were issued and yet, 5,000 commercial pilot roles were required – a deficit across Europe of 1,000 pilot personnel. FTA explored this European data in more depth with an article featured in Pilot Careers news (click here to read more).

But isn’t pilot training really expensive?


If you compare the cost of pilot training with a degree, finances don’t seem quite so steep. The NUS advise that you budget £9,000 per year for your course fees, plus and an additional £1,860 for travel and books. They also suggest that if you live/study outside London, the average cost of living is £12,056 per year. This reflects the cost items such as rent, food, insurance, travel and leisure. That’s a combined average price of £68,748 to £91,664 or £22,916 per year!

FTA require no hefty, upfront payment, and fees are paid over 12 months. We aim to be as accessible as possible and in 2016 launched a new training option with offers a £10,000 saving to our original, UK-based Flight Deck Programme. Option A of our Integrated Flight Deck Programme includes an initial (3 month) flight training phase in Teruel, Spain. There, students complete the elementary stages of their flight training before returning to the UK to complete the ATPL theory and advanced stages of flight instruction (including the Night Rating, MEP, ME CPL, ME IR and MCC.

Quicker to learn, quicker to earn


If you opt for pilot training instead, you can complete your studies in as little as 14 months. By taking a commercial pilot training course, many students have the ability to start earning as soon as they qualify, within 16-18 months of starting their course.

The salaries are impressive too, according to ‘Save the Student’, aircraft pilots and flight engineers are the second highest paid earners in the UK. The average salary is £78,356 with a salary range of £56,017 - £82,944. Experienced captains flying long-haul aircraft can earn up to £140,000 a year. Extra benefits, like bonuses or health insurance, may also be paid.

We have also partnered with airline preparation specialists Virtual Aviation and Kura Aviation who offer additional training and interview preparation. More information the airline preparation courses they offer is available here.

Is flying for me?


If you’ve never flown before and want to be sure flying is for you, The Honourable Company of Air Pilots offers an aptitude test. Although not essential, the test could help you decide whether you are suited to this career before you spend money on training. You can find out more on their website airpilots.org

‘My advice to anyone thinking about pilot training is to follow your dreams and go for it!’ 

FTA also offer introductory flying lessons. These prove the perfect opportunity to test your flying skills and see whether you could get used to taking a much higher perspective. The views across the Sussex Coast are second to none and our Diamond DA40 aircraft help in ensuring that our first flying experience is second to none.

Read about other cadets experiences at FTA on our cadet and pilot story pages here.

We pride ourselves on the high quality of our instructors and tuition, and believe we train you to become the best pilot you can be. Our cadets go on to fly for a multitude of airlines across the world. So, if you’re tempted by the salary, the high-flying nature of the pilot career and want to see if the role is for you, we’d advise you get in touch.

We’ve also put together a little guide about ‘how to become a commercial pilot’ and what to expect. If when you've completed your research you think pilot training is for you, then drop us a call, or book your place one of our weekly tours.  

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