“I’m not good at math, but I want to be a pilot, what should I major in?” OR “I haven’t taken physics or math, but I want to be a pilot, what do I do now?”
These are recurring questions that I receive, so I thought I’d answer these questions once and for all.
Most airlines require a college degree – they typically do not specify what type of degree. So, if you want to major in basket weaving, go ahead. As long as you know the basics of math – you know, addition, subtraction, etc., you have the math skills to become a pilot.
One thing to understand, though, is that just because you think you’re not good at math, or someone has told you that you’re not good at math, it doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, it’s absolutely false!
Sure, it seems that to some people, math skills come naturally and they were born babbling about the pythagorean theorem. But this just isn’t the case. Take me, for example. I was always a good student, but that characteristic was instilled in me by my mother. Even so, when I was placed in a group designated to take algebra ahead of other students, I had no clue what had just hit me and wanted nothing to do with it. Since it was an extra-curricular activity and we were not graded, nor was it a requirement to pass my grade, I simply didn’t pay much attention.
The following year, however, it was part of the curriculum and I was going to get graded. So, I paid attention, studied, asked questions when I didn’t understand something and did just fine. I went on to earn an engineering degree, even though there were early signs that I “wasn’t good at math”.
Now, if you don’t WANT to major in a math or science subject, here are a few points to think about:
1. Think of your college degree as a “back up”
Even if you’re the eternal optimist and failure is just not an option when it comes to a career as a pilot, humor me for a moment and imagine a world where you had to choose a profession other than pilot. What would that be? You can either stay in the realm of aviation (Airport manager, Aeronautical engineer, Airline owner, etc.) or choose something entirely different based on one of your other passions (Motorcycle instructor, Doctor, Lawyer, Business professional, etc.)
Based on your answer, choose a major in that field. Many times, you will find, that no matter how unlikely the two professions are, there is usually a way to combine the two. You may not figure out how to do this until years later, but if you go with something you’re passionate about, you’ll never make the wrong choice.
2. Consider the cost of college
While going off to an ivy league school or a big time university may sound like the obvious choice, be prepared for the high cost of flight training. To offset this cost, consider taking courses at a community college and then transferring credits. Do your research when choosing a flight school as well – then see what community colleges are in the area so that you can do some flight training concurrently.
3. If you’re still not sure what you want to study, start with finding out about yourself
Many times people make the mistake of majoring in something that they just have no passion for based on what their parents want or what someone else thinks is right. They end up with jobs they hate and feel like they have to trudge through the work week just so they can enjoy the weekend which is entirely too short.
Instead, figure out the type of work that would best fit your personality, temperament, and style. There is a lot of research and information about different personality types and the type of work that is best suited for them. Just google “careers and personality type” and you’re bound to find some interesting reading and quizzes that will help you gain insight into yourself and the type of work that will bring, not only a paycheck, but satisfaction to your life.