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Update: Delta Rescinds 4-Year Degree Req. for FO's

Airline Says Change Will Open Opportunity for Well-Qualified and Experienced but Uncredentialed Pilots

Delta Airlines updated its Facebook Recruitment site, notifying prospective pilot candidates that the company has reduced the minimum hiring requirements. The reception was mixed, with those in the know understanding how much the dearth of qualified aviators has worsened, with more than a few non-industry commenters decrying the decline in standards. 

Those in the pilot career pipeline should be excited, as the drawing back of the non-essential standards in the biggest legacy carriers means that at last the long-prophesied pilot shortage may be upon us. Generations of aviators have been advised of an industrial crisis that's always a few convenient years away, when the demand for pilots will far outstrip supply and formerly lofty demands for even entry-level flight jobs could return to reality. College degrees, like so many other elements of the modern economy, have suffered from their own detrimental form of inflation across the board. Job offerings that once used the a 4-year bachelor's degree as an indicator of hard work and academic rigor have all moved upmarket as a flood of technically-credentialed students have poured out of institutions with a flotsam of majors only sometimes well-suited for the workforce.

"After a comprehensive review of our pilot hiring requirements, Delta has decided to make a four-year college degree preferred" rather than "required" for first officer candidates, effective immediately," said Delta's recruiting page. The company has likely seen the number of pilots in the workforce that come from alternate career pipelines - those who entered aviation as a second career, bootstrapped by their earnings from a prior life. Flight training is painfully expensive for young aspirants, and financial assistance pales in comparison to college training, further diverting young students away from the pipeline to begin with. Those pilots who spent a few years in tech, law, or military service may not have had the chance to put their life on pause for 6 years (the new average time to bachelor's completion).

"While we feel as strongly as ever about the importance of education, there are highly qualified candidates – people who we would want to welcome to our Delta family – who have gained more than the equivalent of a college education through years of life and leadership experience. Making the four-year degree requirement preferred removes unintentional barriers to our Delta flight decks. There are no other changes to our requirements, or to our continued commitment to hiring the world’s best pilots. We’re excited about our future at Delta and we’re proud of the many things we are doing to make the dream of becoming a Delta pilot a reality for talented, hard-working and committed people who love this industry. If you have questions, please send us a direct message here on our Facebook page," said the company in closing. 

FMI: www.delta.com


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