Career Opportunities

Job Placement From NMC

Finding A Job

NMC students have high placement rates in the aviation industry following completion of our program. Following graduation, students can expect to have around 225 hours of logged flight time. Newly graduated pilots can then apply for entry level positions in the industry, typically as flight instructors or first officers in a small charter or freight company. Many employers have flight hour hiring minimums, commonly in the range of 500 to 1000 hours total time. Some employers require or desire a bachelor’s degree.

Flight Instructing

At NMC, we offer opportunities for many of our graduates to stay on as flight instructors in our program. This enables an opportunity for graduates to compete to earn a wage as they continue to build flight time and experience. Many of our students continue taking classes in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree through the transfer programs at our University Center here in Traverse City. By the time they complete their 4-year degree, many of our instructors will have attained 1000 to 1200 flight hours of experience, enough to enter the professional pilot ranks.

Pilot Job Market Prospects Are Bright

  • “I think this [pilot shortage] is going to be much larger and much longer than any we've had before. And the reason it’s going to be so much worse this time is we have a combination of things happening at the same time.” – Kit Darby, Aviation Consultant, quoted in “Pilot shortage looms for airlines,” January 7, 2013, USA Today, by Charisse Jones.
  • “ . . . 8000 [pilots] a year will need to be hired to replace those who retire, to accommodate new rules around rest and to keep up with the industry’s expected growth.” – Kit Darby, “Pilot shortage looms for airlines,” USA Today, by Charisse Jones
  • A pilot shortage has already arisen in many regions of the world. Airlines across the globe are expanding their fleets and flight schedules to meet surging demand in emerging markets. Asia in particular is experiencing delays and interruptions due to pilot shortages. The Asia-Pacific region will need 185,600 new pilots, the most of any region. North America will need 69,000. – 2012 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook
  • “The supply of pilots is going to be a major, major issue for us.” – Roger Cohen, Regional Airline Association president quoted in Airline Pilots: Coming up Short, by Marc C. Lee, Plane and Pilot, October 2012
  • Airlines based in Asia and in the Middle East have been aggressively recruiting American pilots through job fairs in the US, and with lucrative signing bonuses that offer a monetary reward for pilots willing to live overseas and fly for a foreign carrier. A first officer for an overseas carrier could get promoted to captain in half the time it takes in the US, and they can do it at twice the pay. Many foreign airlines are offering attractive housing packages to boot. – Airline Pilots: Coming up Short, Plane and Pilot, Oct. 2012
  • In December of 2011, the FAA issued new rules placing tighter restrictions on pilots’ duty day length and increasing the amount of rest time airline pilots had to have before reporting to fly. These changes will impact pilot staffing requirements for airlines that plan to continue flying current schedules. The rules go into effect on January 4, 2014.

Pilot Retirements

Opportunities for additional hiring and career advancement will be plentiful through 2022, due to a wave of FAA-mandated pilot retirements that started in 2012. These retirements are expected to create opportunities on every rung of the aviation career ladder, from major airline first officers to regional airline captains to regional first officers. Industry analysts predict that regional airline demand for first officers will exceed the supply of qualified U.S. candidates.

US Pilots with ATP licenses Reaching Age 65

  • 2013–2017 — 18,471
  • 2018–2022 — 22,473
  • 2023–2027 — 25,610

Source: “US Pilot Labor Supply,” by Kent Lovelace and Jim Higgins, University of North Dakota

  • “2010 had the lowest number of student-pilot certificates issued [by the FAA] on record at 54,064—down from 65,421 10 years prior.” – Airline Pilots: Coming up Short, by Marc C. Lee, Plane and Pilot, Oct. 2012
  • Just 4,677 ATP certificates were issued in 2011, compared to nearly 8,500 in 1990. Private pilot certificates have also declined, from about 40,000 new certificates granted in 1990 to just 16,802 in 2011. – Airline Pilots: Coming up Short

Pilot Compensation

  • New pilots for the majors are earning at least double the $25,000 that new regional pilots start at, with rapid increased based on seniority. For example, industry salary sources show a 10-year Southwest Airlines captain earns more than $200,000 with three-week vacations and 15-17 days off a month. A highly experience FedEx captain can earn $250,000 or more. – Airline Pilots: Coming up Short, by Marc C. Lee, Plane and Pilot, October 2012
  • American Eagle announced that it is offering a $5,000 signing bonus for newly hired pilots. Eagle plans to hire 600 new pilots in 2013, while its parent company, American Airlines, is planning to hire 2,500 pilots over the next five years. Approximately half Eagle’s current pilots are expected to be hired by American or other major airlines.
    Read the article »
  • According to Airline Pilot Central, American Eagle’s first year pay is $25 per hour (approximately $22,500 not including the bonus) with an increase to $34 per hour ($30,600 annually) for the second year.

First Officer Qualification Rule


  • A Congressional law which went into effect on August 1, 2013, substantially increased the experience requirements for airline first officers from a minimum of 250 hours to 1500.
  • Congress allowed the FAA to make exceptions to the 1500 hour requirement based on the way a pilot received his or her flight training.
  • Just before the law went into effect, the FAA published the rule and the exceptions. Pilots who graduated from a college with a 2-year aviation degree could get a Restricted ATP at age 21 and 1,250 hours of total flight experience, while pilots who graduated from college or university with a 4-year aviation degree could get a Restricted ATP at age 21 and 1,000 hours of total flight experience.
  • NMC's Aviation degree has been approved by the FAA for the 1,250-hour exception.

On August 1, 2013, Public Law 111-216 went into effect requiring all aircrew members on FAR Part 121 flights (scheduled air carriers) to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring the holder to be at least 23 years old and have at least 1500 hours of flight experience. Previously, a pilot met the minimum qualifications to be an airline first officer with 250 flight hours of experience. In recent years, the actual number of hours a pilot needed to have to get hired into a regional airline first officer position varied from a low of 300–400 hours to 900–1000.

In the law, Congress gave the FAA the latitude to allow certain exceptions to the 1500 hour requirement if a pilot had taken “specific academic training courses” as part of his or her training. The FAA published exceptions for military-trained pilots and for pilots who graduated from two- and four-year college and university programs specializing in aviation. The FAA listed a few courses as examples of courses that were indicative of a rigorous aviation program to include aeronautical science and technology, aviation meteorology, air traffic operations, air transportation, aviation law, aircraft systems and CRM (crew resource management.) The FAA cited the training benefit derived for students more deeply immersed in aviation training than would be experienced in a typical non-collegiate setting. The FAA allows pilots who graduated with a two-year degree specializing in aviation (30 aviation credits minimum) to be granted a Restricted ATP license at age 21 and with 1,250 hours of total flight experience. Graduates of four-year programs specializing in aviation (60 aviation credits minimum) can be granted a Restricted ATP at age 21 and with 1,000 hours of total flight experience. The requirement for both crew members to hold an ATP license only applies to airline pilots, but many employers require just their captains to hold an ATP.

Examples of jobs you can get with a degree from NMC

  • Airline Pilot
  • Charter Pilot
  • Corporate Pilot
  • Freight Pilot
  • Military/Government
  • Flight Instructing
  • Seaplanes
  • Parachute Jumping
  • Glider Towing
  • Banner Towing
  • Crop Dusting
  • Pipeline Survey
  • Unmanned Aircraft Operator

NMC, American eagle ink pipeline pact

American Eagle agreed to offer qualified program graduates with job interviews and financial incentives under their Pipeline Agreement.  This offers graduates seeking careers as airline pilots excellent employment opportunities to enter the industry.  --March 9, 2014  Read more »

airline cancels flights due to lack of pilots

The highly publicized pilot shortage is beginning to impact some regional carriers causing flight cancellations.  --November 10, 2013  Read more »

Pilot Shortage Looming For Airlines

A perfect storm of factors is lining up to create the largest pilot shortage the US has seen in decades.  Read more »

Airline Offers $5000 Signing Bonus

American Eagle is now offering $5000 up-front signing bonus for new pilot hires.  Read more »

Airlines Face Acute Pilot Shortage

As the industry braces for a wave of retirements, new rules affecting pilot experience requirements and rest periods all point to a pilot shortage. Read more »

Diminishing Number of Student Pilots in the US

The Federal Aviation Administration reports fewer Americans are learning to be pilots. Read the NPR story »

Between 2010 and 2025, there will be an 85,777-pilot shortfall in the U.S.

US Pilot Labor Supply. Read more »

Demand for Pilots Set to Soar

After nearly a four-year drought of job openings, the airline industry is on the brink of what's predicted to be the biggest surge in pilot hiring in history. Read more »

Boeing Predicts Big Surge in Pilot Hiring

Boeing's forecast says there will be a growing demand for planes, and with that comes a growing demand for pilots. Read more »

Commercial Pilot Job Market Ready for a Boom

The demand for pilots will be so great that the industry could ultimately face a shortage, sparking fierce competition among airlines across the globe vying for candidates qualified to fill their cockpits. Read more »

Pilot job websites

Pilot salary info

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