The UK possesses some of the best schools to study aviation. If your focus is on Pilot Studies, Aeronautical Engineering or Cabin Crew we got you covered.

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Academic Routes

Technical Routes

Pilot Studies

Academic Routes

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Further Education

Higher Education

Before I get into the meat of the matter we must acknowledge the multitude of careers in the aviation industry. From being a pilot to aeronautical engineer or flight attendant the scope is wide. Therefore I have broken things down to what you as a reader may interested in.

What do I need?

The answer to this lies in what sector of the Aviation industry you want to pursue.

You’ll need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) and a Class 1 Medical Certificate to become a commercial airline pilot.

If your interest is in Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering, you will need to pursue an undergraduate degree in it’s name sake. If you have a degree in Computer Sciences, other Space Studies or Engineering studies you may be accepted. A Masters in aeronautical/aerospace engineering can be useful if your first degree is in a different subject.

For Hospitality and Cabin Crew jobs you do not need a degree and a secondary education may suffice. If you do have a degree or further qualifications in subjects like Hospitality it would out you in stronger standing with your employer.

To stand out in the Aviation Industry, a second language will catapult you to infinite levels. Therefore do not overlook those Spanish and French classes at school.

Further Education

Further Education is considered Level 3 education in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. The most common further education route is A-Levels but it’s not the only option. There are coursework based courses like BTEC. To pursue a Bachelors degree you must complete this stage first.

A-Levels

A-Levels are exam based courses. You can take from 3 A-Level subjects as most university courses require at least 3. For Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering degree courses, most universities require A-Levels in Physics and Mathematics or Computer Science.

What qualifications do I need? A-level courses will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3) . Mathematics and English Language passes are mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the university you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ. Some universities will not accept Mathematics at less than IGCSEs Grade A or CSECs Grade 1 (for Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering).

Click here to find A-Level courses.

BTEC Diploma

The process of obtaining this qualification is more practical in comparison to the more theory based academic A-Level.

These qualifications are available at different levels and depending on this, the diploma can be equivalent to up to three (3) A-Levels. BTECs can be taken alongside other qualifications (such as an A-Level) and can permit entry to university.

The hurdle with BTEC is that not every university will accept this as an entry point. If this is your only option, no worries there are universities who will accept it.

BTEC diplomas in Engineering, Computer Science etc. are among good options for subjects related to Aero Engineering. For Cabin Crew related jobs BTEC diplomas in Tourism and Hospitality are of quality.

What qualifications do I need? It depends on the BTEC diploma you’re pursuing. Level 3 BTEC diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the university you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ. Some universities will not accept Mathematics at less than IGCSEs Grade A or CSECs Grade 1 (for Aero Engineering).

Click here to find BTEC courses.

But what if I’m over 18 and I have no Level 3 qualifications? We got you below.

Access to Higher Education

Access to Higher Education aka Access to HE, is tailored for students aged 19+ who intend to apply for an undergraduate course. These courses take only one year, performing as a fast track to higher education.

Access to Higher Education courses in Engineering, Computer Science etc. are among good options for subjects related to Aviation.

Access to HE is not accepted by many universities to study Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering/Pilot Studies so check with the universities before applying.

As mentioned earlier, if your scope in the industry is to work in Cabin Crew qualifications past secondary are not required but are desired. Access courses in Tourism or Hospitality are perfect.

What qualifications do I need? Access to HE diplomas will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the school you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ. Mathematics and English Language passes are mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the university you intend to go to as the entry requirements may differ. Some universities will not accept Mathematics at less than IGCSEs Grade A or CSECs Grade 1 (for Aero Engineering).

Click here Access to HE courses.

Higher Education

All applications to undergraduate courses are done via UCAS. Aviation undergraduate courses can done in foundation degrees, HND or Bachelors level. Searching Aviation courses on UCAS throws a wealthy bunch of universities for you to choose from.

With the copious choices given, it may make it difficult to decipher which is best for you.

To start narrowing it down, we suggest you first look at the entry requirements to the course and assess your existing or prospective exam/coursework results.

Next, have a look at the modules done by the university and assess if those are relevant to your career if you’ve already chosen. Also view the teaching quality at the university.

Finally, use comparative websites like Discover Uni or the Complete University Guide to compare course satisfaction and other statistics to make informed decisions.

If you are interested in Aeronautical Engineering and Pilot Studies simultaneously some universities do offer this. For instance, UWE Bristol offers Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies and there is an option to take a year working in the industry. If you are soley interested in Pilot Studies, Middlesex University could be for you.

Enter your area of study and search courses here.

What qualifications do I need? It varies per university but largely universities require at least 120 tariff points. Grades in A-Level tend to be at A*AA-BBB. BTEC grades customarily required are D*DD-DDM. Check the entry requirements per course on UCAS. Some courses have foundation entry options which allows you to gain the qualification and continue the course with lower entry requirements.

Foundation courses can also be taken if your results/points accumulated in a Level 3 qualification were not high enough to allow entry to a standard three-year Bachelors course. Universities like University of Bristol, University of Central Lancashire, University of Southampton etc. all offer degrees to Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering and/or Pilot Studies at Foundation level.

Enter your area of study and search Foundation degrees here.


Technical Routes

If you’re not interested in going the academic route to Aviation there are various options to choose from.

Air Cabin Crew

For Cabin Crew post secondary education is not required. According to Prospects you need to be a minimum age of 18, in some cases 21, in good standard of health and fitness, with the ability to swim 25 metres unaided among many other requirements. Previous work experience in Customer Service is also sought after.

To find jobs search airline websites or one of the following:

Bear in mind this is a competitive profession so extra things such as second languages will be useful.

Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer

According to Prospects, many aerospace companies offer graduate training schemes in the engineering field and require a good undergraduate degree, at usually a 2.1 or above. Entry with a HND only will not usually be possible for these programmes.

If you do have a HND, you may be able to enter at a technician level or through an apprenticeship in a lower-level manufacturing role. To become an aerospace engineer however, you’ll need to take further qualifications which may be supported by your employer (Prospects).

Otherwise some degrees do offer the option to work along study. Search UCAS to find out more.

Pilot Studies

A degree is not essential to work as a Pilot in the UK. However having some relevant post-secondary qualifications are desirable. Search undergrad Pilot Studies courses here. Read the entry requirements per course prior to applying.

In order to work as a commercial airline pilot in the UK, you must possess an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Even before this you must also obtain a Class 1 Medical Certificate. You must also be 18 to begin pilot training.

According to Prospects, trainees will need to hold have good iGCSEs/CSECs in Mathematics, English and Science – plus ideally a second language.

Find out whether you’re cut out to be a pilot by taking an aptitude assessment test from The Honourable Company of Air Pilots charged at £155 (around $200).

Then you’ll need to build up the required 1,500 hours flying experience, which can be in any aircraft (including light aircraft), before you can take the practical skill test. This is in addition to passing ATPL theoretical knowledge exams in areas such as air law, operation procedures and radio navigation (Prospects). Search for Pilot Training Schools online to pursue the courses.

What qualifications do I need? Schemes will usually require at least 5 IGCSEs (A*-C)/CSECs (Grades 1-3). Mathematics and English Language passes are customarily mandatory to possess as well. It is best to check the specific requirements of the job/scheme as the requirements may differ.

To apply for one of the major airlines’ training schemes, you can visit the careers websites of Virgin AtlanticBA and easyJet.

To find out what immigration hurdles you must pass to pursue education in the UK click here. For financial 411s click here.

Unsure about what Aviation is, read our explanatory post here.

Need help applying for university in the UK? Click here.


Posted by:Nandina Hislop

Nandina is a Psychology w/ Criminology student who also has marketing experience in the media and education industries. As an aspiring digital strategist in the UK, she writes about career and education topics related to this region.

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