Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available to those interested in an aviation science degree. The term aviation science can include aircraft maintenance, aircraft operations and aircraft traffic control, but many aviation programs are focused specifically on students targeting a career as an airline pilot. Covering subjects such as flight operations and airport management, these programs are designed to prepare students for certification by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Some programs may require an FAA physical and a 1st or 2nd class medical certificate that specifies that they have no medical defects or pre-existing conditions. Many schools also require incoming students to take some sort of placement test to determine that they have basic reading, writing and mathematics skills in addition to a high school diploma.
Associate of Science in Aviation Science
Most 2-year degree programs in aviation science are designed to provide flight training to aspiring aircraft pilots. Students first gain an academic understanding of aviation safety and piloting before going on to engage in practical flight training exercises. Most such programs prepare students to gain Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot or Flight Instructor certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Associate's degree programs in aviation science often contain little or no general education courses and focus primarily on those practical and theoretical courses that will prepare students for FAA certification. Some specific examples are listed below:
- Aviation safety
- Aviation law and regulations
- Private & commercial pilot training
- Crew management
- Flight navigation
- Air traffic control
Bachelor of Science in Aviation Science
Bachelor's degree programs in aviation science are available for aspiring pilots who seek a well-rounded education with a liberal arts background. They are also ideal for individuals who seek positions of management within airlines. Programs vary widely, with some training pilots and others only offering training for those pursuing aviation careers on the ground. All students gain a strong background in the conceptual foundations and theories of aviation and can then go on to concentrate on other fields of study such as flight training, management, electronics or software, depending upon their chosen specialization.
Many 4-year universities offering bachelor's degree programs in aviation science allow students to transfer over credits from associate's degree programs in the field.
Core courses in a bachelor's degree program in aviation science focus first on theory and then on technical practices of aviation. Some examples include:
- Aviation history
- Flight theory
- Airport management
- Aviation safety
- Loss control techniques
- Flight instruction
Popular Career Options
Aviation science is a broad field, and graduates of a bachelor's degree program have several professional opportunities open to them. Some of these might include:
- Private pilot
- General aviation operations manager
- Commercial pilot
- Air carrier manager
- Airline manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Individuals who graduate from an associate's degree program in aviation science have many career opportunities available to them. Commercial pilots, for example, held about 36% of the 119,200 jobs belonging to airline and commercial pilots in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS indicates that commercial pilots earned a median annual salary of about $76,150 in 2015 and that the top-paying states in the field at that time were Connecticut, Delaware, and Illinois.
Individuals who are interested in pursuing positions of management and leadership within airlines might consider enrolling in a graduate degree program. A Master of Science in Aviation Management or even a Master of Science in Business Management could be ideal options.
Learn about aviation science by earning either an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field. These programs consist of courses in safety, navigation, regulations, and loss control techniques.