The 49th Annual Symposium will be hosted by the Coastal Empire Chapter at the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah, Georgia from 8-12 October 2018.
The theme this year is "Tomorrow's Flight Test".
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I am interested in becoming a FTE or Flight Test Pilot. My question is, what would be the best direction to go into as far as education and certifications are concerned? I already have a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering, so should I go for my masters degree next? Or should I attain a pilot's license, which I do want eventually? Or a third option is to take the FE exan for my EIT Certificate? I'm confused on the next step in my journey. Thank for the help.
Luck favors the prepared.
Many FTEs are not pilots, but having a license often brings more opportunity. Certainly some FTE jobs require a commercial/multi engine type license, but those jobs are not common.
The National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California has two-week introductory courses to flight testing. They include flying but are expensive. As a hiring manager, I would certainly favor someone who goes the extra mile to get this sort of training to show he/she is serious about the profession. The same applies to joining a professional organization such as SFTE. A Masters degree specifically in flight testing is certainly good but not many schools offer this. I think Embry Riddle does but it is expensive. Fortunately this is not required to get your career started.
The above apply directly to the flight test engineering profession. Other things such as flight engineer certificate is distantly related to what we do, but certainly doesn't hurt. The same can be said of a dispatcher license. What is most important to me is computer/coding skills. Any decent flight test department can mentor you on the finer points or even bring you up from zero.What many of them lack, however, is someone who can bring in the latest tools. If you can write code, apps or macros and you emphasize this in your resume and job interviews - that should go a long way. If a hiring manager doesn't appreciate someone who has already invested into the profession, then don't worry - you wouldn't want to work for him/her anyway.
As far a becoming a test pilot goes, you'll first need to build about 2000 hours flight experience in the class of airplane you want to test. As you get about halfway there you can start aiming for what it takes to become a test pilot...but that's a long way off for you.