Wings Magazine

Careers in Aviation Aviation This Week
Flight Colleges

You have just graduated flight school and have earned your commercial pilot’s licence. What’s next?

January 5, 2018  By Stacy Bradshaw

As noted earlier in the 2017 CIA Guide, Canada is home to many excellent flight schools that concentrate on ground school and learning to fly exclusively. However, except in the rarest circumstances, a stand-alone licence – even after building up the prerequisite hours to qualify as a first officer – may not be enough to land that coveted job with an airline or corporate flight department (to name just two).

Even in a tight labour market, unlocking the door for the chosen career is going to be tough; education will always be the key. Recruiters are more likely to put candidates with a college degree or university closer to the top of the list, especially if the post-secondary program includes studies in fields linked with aviation. Indeed, it is estimated that up to 95 per cent of pilots hired by commercial operators also have a college degree.

Canadian colleges with aviation programs teach essential skills not always found at flight schools, something else to consider when selecting a flight school. These skills include a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, critical decision-making and so-called “soft skills” such as effective communication – an important consideration on the flight deck – or flying for a corporate charter provider where the client base is often top executives of some of Canada’s largest corporations.

The one-two punch of a pilot’s licence and college degree is also smart career planning for the student that wants to consider transitioning into an executive position for an airline, airport or aerospace company.



Yukon College | Whitehorse, Yukon
The Aviation Management diploma at Yukon College trains in a unique northern climate that offers variable topography and an increased number of acceptable flying days. Part of the School of Business and Leadership, the diploma comprises a block transfer of pilot training credentials earned at Alkan Air (or other recognized flight schools) that equals one year or 30 credits and an additional 30 credits earned at Yukon College. Students are expected to earn a commercial pilot licence while concurrently earning academic credits. However, students may enter the program with some pilot training (a private pilot licence for example) or a completed commercial licence. Students may complete the ground school and flight training component of the Aviation Management diploma in a flexible manner. The majority of ground school courses will occur during the evening at Alkan Air and training must take place during daylight hours, except for nighttime flight training.
Learn more: 


Douglas College | New Westminster, B.C.
The Associate of Arts Degree for Future Professional Pilots is a program for students who wish to continue to a career in the aviation industry. This program is jointly offered with Professional Flight Centre, located at Boundary Bay Airport. Douglas College provides the academic instruction leading to the Associate of Arts Degree, and Professional Flight Centre, a recognized leader in flight training provides the ground and flying instruction with enough flight experience to obtain a Commercial Pilot Licence and Multi-engine Instrument Rating. These two distinct and separate components together provide students with the foundation needed in the aviation industry. The Associate of Arts portion at Douglas College consists of 60 credits of university transfer courses, which are mainly offered within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The recommended courses have relevance to the aviation industry. The program includes geography courses relating to climate and weather, as well as psychology courses and up to three related business courses. Students need to apply to both Douglas College and the Professional Flight Centre.

Learn more: 

Okanagan College | Kelowna, B.C.
The Commercial Aviation diploma program at Okanagan College consists of two distinct and separate areas of study: flight training and business studies. The business portion is completed at Okanagan College and normally consists of two business courses per semester for a total of eight courses over two years. The flight training portion is taken with Southern Interior Flight Centre out of Kelowna Airport and consists of flight training, theory and exams. Southern Interior Flight School offers graduating students the opportunity to become flight school instructors. Notwithstanding general policies of Okanagan College, the business and elective courses must be completed while concurrently enrolled in the Flight Portion of the Commercial Aviation program. Interested students should contact the Southern Interior Flight School directly. 

Learn more: 


Red Deer College | Red Deer, Alta.
Red Deer College (RDC) is one of Canada’s premier community colleges. RDC’s partnership with Sky Wings Aviation Academy combines a foundation in business with hands-on flight training. The college provides high-quality academics that are critical to the credibility of the Aviation diploma program. This two-year course enables students to earn a certificate in business management while obtaining an aviation diploma. Flight training is provided approximately 10 minutes from the RDC campus at Red Deer Regional Airport. Sky Wings Aviation Academy has providing flight training since 1982, and operates a fleet of Cessna 172s, a twin-engine Piper Seneca and Navajo. Ground training is conducted in a large, multi-media classroom. Multi-engine preparatory training is provided on an ALSIM 200 Flight Simulator. Highlights of the Aviation diploma program include a trans-continental flight crossing the Canadian/U.S. border, familiarization training for a regional or national airline and crew resource management. Most RDC courses are university transferable.

Learn more: and //“> 


Confederation College | Thunder Bay, Ont.
The Aviation Flight Management program at Confederation College combines business, management and flight training into one unique program. The program has been running since 1973 and is both demanding on the educational front with rigorous flight standards throughout. From “bush”-type flying to IFR, the college provides students with the skills they need to land their first entry-level job. The business and management training gives students background knowledge to form a detailed and comprehensive understanding of today’s aviation industry. The college owns a selection of Cessna aircraft and two advanced flight simulators at its Aviation Centre of Excellence hangar at the Thunder Bay International Airport. Confederation graduates are in high demand and have found success in locating positions across a diverse selection of aviation and aerospace professions.

Learn more: 

Conestoga College | Kitchener, Ont.
Conestoga is one of Ontario’s fastest growing colleges. Aviation – General Arts and Science is the only pilot training diploma program that offers students a choice between flying airplanes at the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre or flying helicopters at Great Lakes Helicopter. Through pilot training at one of the flight centres and classes, Conestoga College students can complete this program in only two years as well as the pilot training to allow students to take the Transport Canada commercial pilot licence testing. The ratio of students to instructors is low, providing a personalized and collaborative approach to training. Instructors are part of a Program Advisory Committee (PAC) made up of industry professionals, alumni, academic advisers and student representatives, keeping the program in line with air transport industry needs and expectations.

Learn more:

Sault College | Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Sault College has been training and graduating professional pilots since 1974. The college’s three-year Aviation Technology – Flight program includes quality on-campus classroom and simulator room facilities at the Sault College hangar, located next to the Sault Ste. Marie International Airport. The surrounding landscape provides a safe backdrop to learn the art of flying.  Flight instructors prepare students to become professional pilots with commercial licences endorsed with multi-engine instrument ratings. Students train in a fleet of immaculately maintained Zlin 242L and Piper Seminole multi-engine aircraft. Each aircraft has advanced radio navigation systems and real-time aircraft tracking systems.

Learn more:

Seneca College | Toronto and Peterborough, Ont. 
Seneca College has been a national leader in aviation education for more than 40 years, and continues to respond to emerging industry demands. The college is now educating students at the degree level. The Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology program provides a rigorous aviation technology-based curriculum and application of this theory to aviation. Students gain the skills and knowledge to operate safely in a complex aircraft, to understand the technologies and human factors that affect the successful operation of an aircraft, and to assume the professional responsibility associated with being a commercial pilot. Flight training and classroom instruction for students in year’s two to four of the Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology program takes place at Seneca’s state-of-the-art Peterborough Campus. Seneca’s flight consists of 19 aircraft, including Cessna 172s (including four with Garmin G1000 glass cockpits), Beechcraft Bonanza’s and Baron’s (including one with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit). Students begin their flight training in the single-engine Cessna 172 before moving on to the Bonanza’s. Training in the Bonanza’s includes long-distance flights to places such as Burlington, Vermont, Fredericton, New Brunswick and Detroit, Michigan. Students then progress to the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron. Seneca’s Airline Pilot Operations program is the only graduate certificate program of its kind in Canada. The program delivers a comprehensive education in airline operations that includes the study of airline operations and administration as well as extensive practical training to prepare students for direct entry into a First Officer position in airline operations. Halifax-based Jazz Aviation and Seneca College have recently enhanced its career pathway partnership for student pilots. The agreement includes a cadet program whereby a group of top performing students are selected as Jazz Cadets following completion of the third year of their aviation degree and are evaluated are on professionalism, discipline and both flight and academic performance during their fourth year. Upon completion of the degree program, the Jazz Cadets undergo a comprehensive review and simulator evaluation with Jazz, Canada’s third largest airline.

Learn more: 


Moncton Flight College | Moncton, N.B.
The Moncton Flight College (MFC) has been training pilots since 1929 and is the largest private flight school in Canada. Since its inception, MFC has taught more than 20,000 pilots from around the world, with graduates holding senior positions throughout the world’s airlines, aviation authorities and companies. The college educates aviation professionals with state-of-the-art curriculum, highly qualified instructors and modern facilities and equipment. MFC’s Moncton campus benefits from efficient airport infrastructure and low commercial flight activity. There are 21 combined training areas in Moncton for local training, all within five minutes flying time from the airport. This proximity makes MFC one of the few major schools with training areas so close to its main base of operations, resulting in maximum training time on every flight. Because of its location, students benefit from four-season training, and are better equipped to safely manage different weather conditions. A staff of aircraft maintenance engineers, which allows for minimal downtime and maximum efficiency, maintains all MFC aircraft. MFC’s 46 aircraft include Beechcraft King Air’s, Cessna 172s, Diamond DA20 Eclipse and Piper Seminoles. Extensive simulator training is also available. MFC has partnered with Mount Allison University to offer one of the few aviation programs in Canada that allows students to earn an undergraduate degree incorporating flight and ground school training.

Learn more:


Stories continue below