Aviation technology is a field that covers a broad range of specialized areas including flight training, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft security. Due to the broad nature of the field aspiring professionals should consider what area of the field they would like to work in prior to enrolling in an aviation technology program. Some programs may offer different educational tracks with specific classes and training that will match the student's professional goals. Most graduates who hold degrees in aviation technology go on to work as pilots, flight instructors, and airline managers.
Associate Degrees in Aviation Technology
Students can graduate with their associate degree in just two years by completing 60 credit hours of study. Participants will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge needed to complete the requirements for the FAA general, power plant, and airframe exams, which will be an important factor in their professional career. Examples of what courses students will encounter include aviation science, aircraft reciprocating engines, aircraft ignition systems, technical and professional communication, airframe systems, rotary wing systems & maintenance, and aircraft inspection. Graduates can find employment as maintenance technicians for both general and commercial aviation, aviation repair stations, and manufacturers. Application requirements include a high school diploma or a GED certificate. It is also recommended that high school students interested in this career field participate in at least three years of English, one year of algebra, and one year of science. Applicants who show a deficiency in math on their entrance exams will not be admitted to an aviation technology program until they have completed a remedial course prior to the start of their first semester. Annual tuition for this level of program will genearlly fall somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000 a year.
Bachelor's Degrees in Aviation Technology
Individuals who already have an associate degree can complete a bachelor's program in two years. First-time freshmen can graduate in four years. The purpose of a bachelor's degree in aviation technology is to prepare students for entry-level positions within the aerospace industry. Common career paths include aviation electronics technology, aviation maintenance technology, and quality control. The required 120-credit hours is comprised of courses such as aviation safety, aircraft systems, basic attitude instrument flying, aerospace law, airline operations and management, and general aviation operations and management. In order to qualify for this level of program applicants should provide their high school transcripts or their GED certificate. Applicants who already have an associate degree will need to turn in their college transcripts in order to be reviewed for transfer credit. In some cases they may need to submit a letter of intent that outlines their educational and career aspirations and goals. Annual tuition ranges from around $10,000 to about $24,000.
Master's Degrees in Aviation Technology
A master's degree in aviation technology will give graduates the training they need to secure advanced job opportunities, get promoted, and earn more money. This level of program can be completed in two years or less depending on whether the student is enrolled full or part time. The curriculum covers a range of topics, including courses such as aerospace technology development, the airway transportation system, aviation logistics management, airfield operations and management, security for the aviation industry, airline operations and management, and an aviation graduate capstone course. Most programs will also require that students participate in an internship to gain professional experience. This requirement can usually be fulfilled through the student's current work environment if they are currently working in the industry. Individuals who are interested in participating in a graduate program will need to have earned their bachelor's degree in aviation technology or a similar discipline. In general most programs will also require that the applicant submit two letters of recommendation from references who can attest to the applicant's likely success in the program, along with GRE and/or GMAT test scores. Tuition will vary depending on the program, but will likely fall somewhere between $16,000 and $30,000 a year.
Doctorate Degrees in Aviation Technology
Individuals who are looking to enter teaching or scholarly careers within the industry will benefit from a doctoral program. PhD programs are rigorous, research-driven programs that will prepare participants to be experts in their field, and can usually be completed in five to seven years. Typically students will complete 60 credit hours of course work, which includes classes like quantitative research methods in aviation, data mining and modeling, human factors in aviation, strategies for organizational dynamics in aviation, current practices and future trends in aviation, and operations research and decision making. Students will also be required to complete a dissertation and pass a qualifying exam before they graduate. The admission process for this level of program is competitive as positions are often limited. Applicants should showcase strong GRE scores and at least a 3.5 GPA for all graduate work previously completed. Three strong letters of recommendations will be required and the applicant will also need to write a letter of intent. Lastly, a resume will be required that indicates the applicant's record of industry experience. Total cost of education for this level of degree can reach $60,000 or more.
The Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) is the main accrediting body for post-secondary aviation programs. It's purpose is to ensure that a high quality of education is being presented to participants who are seeking aviation careers. Enrolling in a program accredited by the AABI will also help graduates secure jobs by showing employers that they have received a relevant education that has equipped them with a broad background in the aviation industry. The AABI ensures that the programs they accredit keep up with their standards by conducting quality control reviews on faculty, student resources, testing procedures, and curriculum. Individuals who are interested in participating in an aviation program can find all accredited programs directly on the AABI website.
The field of aviation technology is quite broad therefore not every career path requires that the individual be certified. The Federal Aviation Administration does, however, note which types of job titles will require a certificate or license on their website. This should be considered prior to committing to any college program.
There are many specialized areas within the field of aviation technology. The career path an individual wishes to pursue should be considered prior to enrolling in school so that the student can ensure they are taking the right courses that are going to prepare them for that career.
Aviation Maintenance Technology: An aviation maintenance technology specialist works to maintain and repair aircraft engines and other important features of aircraft in accordance with FAA regulations and standards. This a crucial part of ensuring aircraft safety before it even leaves the ground.
Airline Pilot: Airline pilots fly passengers and cargo to different locations around the world. Aspiring pilots could choose to attend flight school but earning a degree in aviation technology will equip students with other necessary skills other than just learning to fly. Many of these programs do offer flight instruction. However, if the program does not the student will have to enroll in an outside program in order to earn their pilot license.
Flight Instructor: Once an individual has met all the requirements for becoming a commercial pilot they can then gain their license as a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Many programs offer CFI training as part of their curriculum.
Airline Manager: An airline manager works at an airport to ensure that compliance with local, state, and federal regulations are being met and that the airport and its different departments are running efficiently and safely.
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- Cost and Tuition. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Accessed October 7, 2016. http://worldwide.erau.edu/admissions/cost-tuition/.
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- Master in Aviation Science. Everglades University. Accessed October 4, 2016. http://www.evergladesuniversity.edu/masters-degree-in-aviation-science/.
- PhD in Aviation. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Accessed October 5, 2016. http://aviationphd.erau.edu.