The True Value of Flight Training

Much has been said about the cost of flight training today and the potential return on investment on a pilot certificate. In a dynamic job market the potential pilots of the millennial generation may well wonder if there is value to pilot certification beyond the cockpit. Will the time spent becoming a pilot be worthwhile? According to our research, the answer is a resounding yes.

The Changing Job Market

Employers and workers are looking at work, success and preparedness in a whole new way. To be “future proof” today’s workers need to ensure they have core skills and abilities not just job specific training. In fact one report showed that 63% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills among job candidates. What they want are workers who can adapt, cope and roll with the punches. Skills like problem solving, communication and flexibility are key to staying ahead in today's ever more fluid marketplaces.

How Do Pilots Measure Up to the New Metrics?

Ask almost any pilot and they will tell you the lessons learned from flying an aircraft go far beyond the cockpit. The 300 pilots we surveyed heartily agreed there are broader life skills pilots learn, the top five being:

  • Self Confidence
  • Managing Uncertainty
  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Adaptability

Every time a pilot flies they are using and honing these skills whether they realize it or not.  As it turns out, they are some of the same skills experts identify as crucial to success in three key business sectors.

Corporate America

In corporate America traditional rules governing hiring no longer apply.  Google, the nation’s top rated employer, now looks for key skills and talents rather than direct experience, noting in a New York Times article that “Talent can come in so many different forms and be built in so many non-traditional ways today, hiring officers have to be alive to every one.” A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers backs this up, reporting that 78% of employers will consider any college major pointing to communication skills, problem solving, and adaptability as key needs.


More and more entrepreneurship is seen as a key driver in the growth of a robust economy, and millennials are leading the charge.  Forbes Magazine calls them “the true entrepreneurial generation.” But is there a link between entrepreneurs and pilots? INC Magazine thinks so, noting “Entrepreneurs are a lot like pilots. They're goal-oriented and disciplined. To be effective, they must project confidence and competence at all times.” Plus the list of famous entrepreneurs is stacked with pilots:

  • Steve Wozniak co-founder of Apple
  • Michael Bloomberg founder of Bloomberg LP
  • Larry Ellison founder of Oracle

And the list goes on, underscoring the connection between pilot skills and entrepreneurial success.

Sharing Economy

Connected, tech-savvy millennials love services like Uber and they are fueling huge growth. They have embraced the concept of the sharing economy and are both using and developing new freelance services. A Bentley University study confirms that more and more millennials want to work on their own. But can they succeed? Another study by the Career Advisory Board, rated life skills such as problem solving, self confidence, and communication as equally important to technical skills in ensuring freelance success. It seems that the life skills of a pilot make those with flight training experience prime candidates to cash in on the sharing economy gold rush.

Flight Training = Life Long Success

For millennials considering flight training, there is a strong case to be made that becoming a pilot will set them up for career success even if life eventually takes them outside the cockpit. Clearly a pilot's certificate has a value that is greater and more holistic than it appears on the surface. Be sure to check out our Flying Into Your Perfect Career infographic and case study to see all the data presented in a clear and engaging way that students (and parents) can easily understand. 

Given rising costs and the pressing need to meet the pilot shortage, flight program recruiters should consider pointing out these broader benefits to potential students as a win-win in terms of career preparedness and we hope they will freel free to use our research to do so.

The True Value of Flight Training

As awesome as it is to earn your living by piloting an aircraft, it is equally awesome to know that as a pilot you have developed a set of practical and valuable skills that will always serve you well in life. Looked at from this broader perspective the true value of flight training might quite possibly be in who it helps you become rather than what it teaches you to fly.