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Finding a flight school

Deciding to Fly is Just the First Step

Once you've decided to follow your dream and become a professional pilot, that's just the beginning. The more important decision is determining WHERE you should complete your flight education. That's much more difficult.

As you consider your many options, make sure to ask these questions...

1. Does the program provide students with a comprehensive four-year degree?

While you don't, technically, need a four-year degree to get hired by many air carriers, you will certainly want one in order to advance your career and also to provide yourself with as many career options as possible. Virtually all major airlines require a four-year college degree in order to be promoted to captain. Furthermore, a four-year degree opens up your future career options--making it possible for you to pursue many other types of career options should you change your mind about flying or should other opportunities arise.

2. Does the four-year degree provide students with a broad background that maximizes career options?

A four-year degree that is too focused on only one subject will limit your future career options. Westminster has designed its flight operations degree to provide an optimal balance between focused aviation coursework and a broad, general education component. Not only does this mix appeal to potential aviation employers, it also appeals to employers in other career fields as well.

3. Does the flight environment provide the experiences that professional pilots need? 

Many flight schools conduct flight training out of non-towered or small, general aviation airports. Westminster, however, is the only four-year collegiate aviation program that operates out of Class B airspace. Flying, from day one, at the Salt Lake International Airport ensures that you will be comfortable with the environment in which you will work as a professional pilot. Learn to fly in the environment in which you will be working! 

4. How closely integrated are the academic and the flight portions of the program?

The academic portion and the flight experiences are closely integrated at Westminster. The faculty who are teaching the academic portion of the flight courses are also actively involved in the flight activities, and at Westminster the chief and assistant chief instructors are the ones teaching the academic component of the flight courses. In many programs the academic and flight portions of the program are together only on paper, and in some programs the flying is contracted out to independent training providers. 

5. Are the educational objectives of the college in line with the education pilots need?

The Westminster collegiate experience supports development of the knowledge, skills and judgment that are highly valued by the airlines. Westminster’s core values and educational goals include impassioned teaching and active learning; leadership, collaboration and teamwork; critical, analytical, and integrative thinking; and personal responsibility and high ethical standards. These are the values airline and corporate operators look for in their pilot candidates. 

6. Does the program provide the qualifications employers desire rather than just the minimums required by the FAA?

The Westminster flight program focuses on developing the flying skills, knowledge and judgment needed to meet the airline and corporate aviation hiring requirements, which are well beyond the minimums required by the FAA. Having FAA certificates and meeting minimum flight time requirements alone will not provide a strong foundation for a career as a professional pilot. In the Westminster program students will, of course, obtain the needed FAA certificates, but good jobs in the industry require qualifications well beyond FAA minimums. 

7. Does the program have a strong safety record? How does the program support and promote safety?

Flight training, no matter where you go, includes an inherent level of risk. Just like driving a car, flying an airplane requires education, preparation, and good decision-making. As you evaluate your many flight education choices, make sure to ask about accident records, formal safety programs--such as a safety management system, and how they create a culture of safety. Do they conduct safety drills? Do they have a strong safety reporting system in place? How do they solicit and handle safety suggestions? To learn about our safety efforts, here's a letter from our Safety Manager.

8. Does the “name” of the college from which a pilot graduates affect their chances of getting a job?

Some collegiate programs imply that a degree from their program is an automatic "stamp of approval" as far as the airlines are concerned. Be careful here. While there are prominent, well-known collegiate flight programs out there who enjoy an excellent reputation, do not make the assumption that a degree from their program will guarantee you a job.

More important to the airlines are the individual’s knowledge, skills, and--most importantly--his or her attitude. There is an extensive process for hiring pilots and a probation period following the hiring decision. Much of the hiring process focuses on identifying individuals who will be a “good fit” with their company. It is essential, then, that students select a school that helps them develop their skills, knowledge and character in a way that best meets their individualized needs. Westminster graduates are enjoying fulfilling aviation careers throughout the industry, thanks to the education and flight training they received while in college.

9. Does the program provide adequate diversity in the aircraft and avionics used in training?

Flying a variety of airplanes with both traditional and advanced instrumentation is critical for developing skills and flexibility as a professional pilot. The Westminster program assures students gain this breadth of experience. 

10. Does the program provide a well-rounded collegiate experience?

Westminster provides the opportunity for a fulfilling collegiate experience. It has a balanced male to female student ratio, it is in a city with diverse cultural opportunities, and also offers and abundance of outdoor sports (snowboarding, skiing, mountain climbing, biking and more) within minutes of the campus. Click here for more facts about Westminster's college profile.

11. Is it convenient to get to the college? 
For our students live out of state (the majority of our students), the main college campus is conveniently located within twenty (20) minutes of the Salt Lake City International Airport.