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How do I Choose the Best Aeronautical School?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2018
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Aeronautical schools typically train and prepare students for a future career in aviation, avionics, or aeronautical fields. Graduates may become aircraft mechanics, pilots, flight instructors, airline or airport managers, aircraft manufacturers, engineers, sales or marketing professionals, or aviation research scientists. Factors to take into consideration when choosing an aeronautical school typically include career goals, accreditation, costs, financial aid options, internship opportunities, and job placement rates.

Long-term career goals will affect what type of aeronautical school a student should consider. Some community colleges, technical schools, or aeronautical universities offer associate’s degree programs necessary for aeronautical technician and support careers. A student interested in research may need to attend a university that offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program. Aspiring pilots will need to obtain a series of flight licenses and may want to consider a state college or private aeronautical university that offers both an academic program and flight training. Other options include obtaining flight training separately at a flight training school or entering military service.

Students typically should check an aeronautical school’s accreditation and reputation in the field before committing to a school. Accreditation means a learning institution has met specific qualifications required by a governing body. Usually, a government’s education department or another government-approved organization grants accreditation status to a college or university. In the United States (US), the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is an example of a generally accepted accrediting body for aeronautical science and related fields.

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Aeronautical school tuition and costs can vary widely. In the US, state colleges and universities are the least expensive options, while private aeronautical colleges and universities tend to be more costly. Financial aid may be available to students through scholarship or grant programs, which don’t need to be repaid, or student loan programs, which do need to be repaid.

Professional pilots must obtain proper licensing from governing authorities like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US, or the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) in Europe. Aeronautical schools, flight training schools, and the military may all offer pilot licensing programs. The cost of flight training required to obtain pilot licensing can be important to consider since it is in addition to the cost of an academic degree program. Government financial aid programs may not pay for the flight component of pilot education so financing may need to be secured elsewhere.

Some aeronautical schools and universities offer a combined academic degree and flight training program that leads to pilot licensing. Flight training schools offer flight training and pilot licensing only without a degree program. A less expensive option for obtaining flight training is to serve in the military, which pays for pilot recruit flight training. The US military also offers educational benefits through its various Government Issue (GI) Bill programs. Some other countries offer similar programs.

Internship opportunities and job placement programs may help a student secure experience and networking opportunities that could help him or her get a job after graduation. A college will frequently offer internships, or supervised job training experiences, for students. Often, companies will sponsor job fairs where students have the chance to network with professionals in the field.

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