Should You Earn Your Aviation Degree During Flight School?

While not all employers require an aviation degree, it does open the door to many exciting pilot career opportunities. It also shows a level of commitment and education greater than those without an aviation degree. 

The COCC Aviation Program provides a practical, supportive environment to start your career as a professional airplane pilot. You’ll have the opportunity to earn a commercial pilot certificate and a flight instructor certificate, while also earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Aviation Science. The COCC degree program also gives students access to low-rate federal financial aid, Pell grants, and other funding options that are not available to those attending LEFA directly.

COCC’s program allows most students to earn their AAS along with all their flight ratings in two years. Students wishing to obtain a bachelor’s degree have the option of transferring to either Oregon Institute of Technology or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University upon completing the COCC program. 

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aviation degree program student standing in front of an airplane

Aviation Professional Pilot Airplane Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

The Professional Pilot Airplane Associate of Applied Science trains professional pilots for the air transportation industry. 

Students in the airplane track will be eligible to earn the following FAA ratings/certificates: 

  • Private Pilot – Airplane Single Engine Land
  • Instrument – Airplane
  • Commercial Pilot – Airplane Single and Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) – Airplane Single and Multi Engine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument Airplane (CFII)

You can learn more about the airplane pilot program’s entrance requirements, program requirements, and learning outcomes by reading the airplane aviation degree course description in COCC’s course catalog.

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COCC and Leading Edge helped get me to where I am today. The instructors, working with management, always wanted the best. It’s the group of people you work with that makes a company great, and at Leading Edge the camaraderie within the organization was awesome. That is what I saw as a student and an instructor. I really liked my time there and enjoyed the fact that everyone was tracking the same goal. I would recommend anyone to go fly there because there is a distinct difference in the knowledge and ambition coming out of this school that I haven’t seen from other pilots from different schools.

Andrew Camara

Andrew Camara
Leading Edge was where I started my aviation career. They gave me to tools necessary to instruct, fly in rural Alaska, and finally become an Airline pilot. Training was always fun and exciting, but at the same time challenging. As a veteran, it is unbelievable that in two years, I got a degree as well as all my fixed wing ratings at no out-of-pocket expense. I always think to myself, “Why doesn’t everyone do this?

Clint Sheppard

Clint Sheppard
Becoming an airline pilot has always been my ultimate goal, and Leading Edge provided the best opportunity to build my flight experience up to the minimums required by the airlines. I grew up watching airplanes fly into the Bend airport, and flying over my hometown on a daily basis is one of the highlights of my career so far. As a SkyWest pilot, I now find myself flying into many of the same airports I first visited during my time at Leading Edge!

Garrett Ross

Garrett Ross
It’s become part of who I am and I will never lose the desire and love I have for it.” Alice loves the freedom and adventure it brings! She wants to make flying into her career and inspire more women around the world! She highly encourages any women’s curiosity in aviation to give it a try!  She says, “Being a female pilot is empowering and rewarding!

Alice Reed

Alice Reed
When I started flying, the college and the flight provider laid out a plan for me—where I was gonna start and where I wanted to end up… 3.5 years later, I’m going to the airlines, which is exactly where I wanted to be when I started.

Jake Edgerly

Jake Edgerly
Instructing at LEFA for 2.5 years not only got me the flight hours and experience necessary to make the next step in my career, but made the transition to flying bigger/faster aircraft easier. LEFA’s safety oriented, fast paced and professional program helped me sharpen valuable skills that have been necessary to meet the high safety and punctuality standards in the corporate pilot industry.

Cullen Foss

Cullen Foss
Leading Edge provided me with the exceptional training that prepared me for an awesome career as a professional aviator. The kicker is that you get to train in the dynamic and gorgeous area that is central Oregon! I couldn’t be happier with my decision to fly at Leading Edge and choose aviation as my career!

Adam Mitchell

Adam Mitchell
After instructing I got the opportunity to work in Alaska, delivering parts and supplies to a remote gold mine. It helped pave the way to land my current job at a 135 operation. I fly C207s into the local villages delivering cargo and passengers in the Yukon Delta where driving is not always an option. It’s always good to maintain relationships in the aviation community because you never know who’s going to help you get to the next step in your career– or who you may help!

Dayne Schafer

Dayne Schafer
Leading Edge has been a great stepping stone for me to transition from military aviation into the commercial world. I did a lot of long IFR flights, in a large multi-engine aircraft, utilizing crew resource management and operating under military rules. Leading Edge allowed me to experience VFR flying out of a busy uncontrolled field, in a tiny/simple plane, utilize single pilot resource management, and get spooled up on the FARs as they apply to general/commercial aviation. Without the opportunity to experience this first hand as I did, and then pass that knowledge on to my students, I’d still be trying to wrap my head around the differences between military/commercial aviation. 

Brad

Brad
As a First Officer, I assist Captains in the operation of our CRJ fleet; we get to fly the 200, 700, and 900 variants to all parts of the country! As a Procedures Instructor, I teach new hires how to apply what they learn from Ground School to successfully accomplish a regular gate to gate flight. The foremost impact of my time at Leading Edge was getting to train and work alongside some of the sharpest and kindest individuals one could…I learned a staggering amount both personally and professionally. They are all inspiring and motivating to keep oneself improving and growing, which is arguably the most important habit any pilot can develop.

Steven Crowe

Steven Crowe
I moved to Bend, OR after I retired from the Navy to pursue my passion of becoming a professional pilot.  Even though I was a relatively junior instructor with just a handful of CFI experience, I was hired by Leading Edge Flight Academy. Over the past two years I’ve  had the opportunity to grow and hone my skills as a pilot and ultimately assume the title and responsibilities of Lead CFI and Check Instructor. Flying in Central Oregon presents unique challenges and opportunities for young students and their instructors. Pilots are presented with real-world flying scenarios that can teach them valuable lessons about flying safely while executing sound decision making skills.  I had the pleasure of having Nick as one of my first students when I started teaching at Leading Edge. It has been very rewarding to see him (and others) earn their pilot wings and become instructors as well! As I move on to a career in the airlines I reflect on my time at Leading Edge and am thankful for the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with.

Andrew Reischauer

Andrew Reischauer