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General Aviation Pilot Option

Associate of Applied Science Degree

The General Aviation Pilot Option is designed for those seeking a career as an airplane pilot. The curricula include Private and Commercial Pilot Certificates and Instrument Rating. A Multi-Engine Rating may be selected from the elective options.

A sampling of career and job opportunities are listed below.

  • Aerial mapping
  • Aerial photography
  • Aerial surveying
  • Agricultural applications
  • Air taxi operations
  • Air tours
  • Banner towing
  • Business flying
  • Cargo operations
  • Charters
  • Corporate operations
  • Drug interdiction
  • Fish spotting
  • Fire fighting
  • Flight instruction
  • Fractional operations
  • Government business:
    • Agriculture
    • Border Patrol
    • Commerce
    • Energy
    • FBI
    • Health & Human Services
    • Interior
    • Justice
    • Treasury
  • Hunting
  • Law enforcement
  • Medical:
    • Organ transport
    • Patient transportation
    • Emergency supply transport
  • Pipeline patrol
  • Power line patrol
  • Scenic tours
  • Scientific research and development
  • Search and rescue
  • Test pilot
  • Traffic patrol
  • Weather modification

How to become a commercial pilot

  • Obtain your Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates and ratings. The usual sequence is:
    • Private Pilot Certificate
    • Instrument Rating
    • Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • Pilot hiring is based on the applicant's total flight time and type of aircraft flown. Most pilots will have about 250 flight hours upon completing the program. Depending on the type of flight operations, pilot hiring minimums may be higher or lower than airline minimums. Unlike airlines, hiring need in this sector of aviation is not dependent on current economic conditions.

Lifestyle and qualifications

A career pilot must also consider the lifestyle and qualifications when choosing a career path. In the general aviation sector, additional non-aviation skill sets and training may be required. For example, aerial applications (crop dusting and firefighting) require specialized equipment and training in the handling of chemicals and toxic hazards, understanding the unique requirements for low level flight  and short flights in demanding conditions of high heat and repeated acrobatic activities.

  • General aviation, corporate and fractional operations may or may not operate 24/7
  • Depending on the size of operations, pilots may bid or be assigned their flight schedules
  • Depending on the type of operations, pilots may or may not be away from home for extended periods of time
  • Some jobs are seasonal only
  • Some jobs are part time only
  • Recurrent and upgrade training is based on company policies
  • Background checks, including driving records, are based on company policies
  • Most operations are conducted under FAR Part 91 regulations, which require pilots to hold a Second Class Medical Certificate; however, individual company polices may require a First Class Medical Certificate
  • Pilots may be subject to pre-employment, random and "for cause" drug screening
  • There is no FAA required retirement age
  • Must be able to read, speak and understand the English language
  • Must be able to obtain and maintain a second class medical certificate

Salary range (per month)

Charter Salary

First year, First Officer

$1,600 - $3,800

First year, Captain

$3,800 - $10,100

Twelfth year, Captain

$5,600 - $10,500

Part time

$23 - $80 per flight hour
Corporate (type rating may be required) $2,500 - $20,000
Fractional Salary

First year, First Officer

$2,200 - $4,800

First year, Captain

$3,200 - $7,300

Twelfth year, Captain

$4,200 - $16,200

General / Other

Full time

$3,500 - $15,000

Part time

$20 - $140 per flight hour

Course of Study

Estimated Costs

Fee In District Out-of-District WUE Out-of-State
College tuition and fees* $ 7,626 $ 12,594 $18,638 $39,785

Flight-training lab fees*

$44,400 $44,400 $44,400 $44,400
Approximate total costs for program: $52,030 $56,994 $63,036 $84,185

*Costs subject to change at any time.
*Flight costs based on FAA minimum flight hours. Individual students may require additional flight hours.
*Costs may vary with choice of electives.