SUU Aviation Department Helicopter

Aviation Bachelor’s Degrees

Getting a bachelor’s degree in aviation can provide you with lots of advantages if you’re interested in becoming a pilot. You’ll have a greater chance of getting hired, a higher average income, more opportunities for chief pilot or management positions, and a back-up plan in case you can’t fly or pass the FAA medical exam.

At SUU we have several aviation degree options, including two bachelor’s degrees: the Bachelor of Aviation Science (recommended for fixed wing students) and the Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies (recommended for rotor wing students).

Bachelor’s of Aviation Science (BAS)

The Bachelor’s of Aviation science is a four year degree and is the only aviation degree at SUU. It’s best suited for fixed wing students because it is approved for the FAA Restricted ATP. That means by completing this bachelor’s degree you only need 1000 flight hours (rather than 1500) to take your ATP checkride. This is a typical entry point into an airline pilot job. By completing this bachelor’s you save time and can potentially get an airline job sooner.

Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS)

The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies is a customizable degree with two emphases. Aviation will be one of your emphases (rotor or fixed wing) and you may choose among dozens of other degree options. For example, marketing, criminal justice, biology, business management, communication, psychology, and many, many others.

If you’re interested in applying it only takes about ten minutes to fill out the application. Or, if you have any application questions, email or call loniamcdonald@suu.edu or 435-865-8148.

Examples of BIS Degree Options and Career Paths

If you’re considering a career as a helicopter pilot the BIS is a perfect degree because of its flexibility. Here are some degree options and career combinations:

  • Criminal Justice - This degree emphasis could give you an edge if you’re looking for a career in firefighting, border patrol or law enforcement.
  • Hotel, Resort and Hospitality Management - An emphasis in HRHM could give you an advantage in the entertainment and hospitality industries including helicopter tours, Heli Skiing, or becoming a stunt pilot.
  • Agriculture - There are a lot of uses for helicopters in agriculture. You could use this emphasis to get a variety of agriculture-related helicopter jobs whether it’s managing livestock, pest control, logging, or a number of other utility fields.
  • Biology - A degree emphasis in biology could also boost you agriculture-related jobs, but also might extend your advantage to the Emergency Medical Flight industry.
  • Management - Many companies are interested in hiring pilots with degrees in management. Eventually, companies need some of their pilots to become managers and chief pilots. Having a degree related to management can give you an edge in getting management positions.
  • And More - Really any other degree emphasis could give you benefits while searching for a career as a helicopter pilot. We’ve had pilots major in business, marketing, engineering, mechanics and a variety of other fields. They can end up with careers in flight schools, tuna boats, offshore oil rigs, corporate, test piloting, ferry flights, air cargo, towing, military piloting, and more...

Advantages of an Aviation Bachelor’s Degree (Over the Associate’s)

Getting a bachelor’s degree in aviation comes with several advantages over an associates degree. Some of these advantages include:

  • A chance to Build Up Your Flight Hours: It takes less than two years to get all of your helicopter pilot certifications, which leaves you with about two more years to finish your bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to build up your flight hours and doing that while getting your degree is the perfect time. Whether it’s finding a job as an instructor with us, or finishing your degree online and flying somewhere else, building hours while in school knocks out two birds with one stone, and it gives you funding advantages.
  • Extended Funding: If you’re using a GI Bill, FAFSA, or student loans to fund your pilot training then getting a bachelor’s degree will extend the amount of time you have access to the funding or delay your need to repay loans. Your first job as pilot will be a much lower salary than it will be when you reach the 1000-1500 flight hour mark. You can potentially reach these hours in around two years (depending on how frequently you fly). Once you reach 1000-1500 hours you’ll have a much greater income potential as a pilot. This two year growth of hours makes the bachelor’s degree advantageous because it delays the burden of paying loans while making a lower salary, giving you time to build your hours and increase your income.
  • Greater Income Potential: On top of helping you save money while you build your hours, a bachelor’s degree increases your income potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Bachelor’s degree holders earn over $23,000 more per year than those who just have a high school diploma and $17,000 more than those with an associates degree on average. Helicopter pilots earn more than all of these degrees on average by far. But according to data from salary.com, on average helicopter pilots with bachelor’s degrees have greater salaries than those without.
  • A Backup Plan: Whether it’s from injury, chronic illness, or other health issues, if you ever lose your FAA Medical you won’t be able to fly anymore. No matter how unlikely this is, it’s still important to make a plan in case you need to make an unexpected career change. A bachelor’s degree can give you a backup career plan if you ever lose the ability to fly helicopters. A bachelor’s degree is highly respected and It’s possible you could continue to work in aviation depending on the emphasis you choose.
  • Better Chance of Getting Hired: If you want the best helicopter pilot jobs with the highest paying salary, you need to stand out above the rest. Finding a job isn’t the most difficult part about being a pilot—finding the best and most ideal job for you is. To do that we recommend you give yourself every advantage possible by improving your credentials through a bachelor’s degree.
  • Better Chance at Management Positions: A long-term advantage of having a bachelor’s degree is you have a higher chance at getting management or chief pilot positions. Often the first to advance are those who have invested in their education so you’ll want to take every chance you can get to advance your education.

General Catalog

Need More Information?

If you need more information consider coming in for a tour and an intro flight. To learn more or schedule a tour give us a call at 435-586-7862.

Ready to Apply?

Applying to SUU Aviation only takes about 10 minutes. If you’re considering coming it’s best to apply sooner than later as the program fills up quickly.

Submit Aviation Application