MILITARY TO METRO
Your career doesn’t stop after the military
Just because you weren’t a military pilot doesn’t mean you can’t use your benefits to earn your license. Pilots must build time and certifications, both of which can be costly.
We got some tips from Erik Sabiston, formerly with RTAG, on how to use your military benefits to become a pilot for free.
The Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program was previously called Vocational Rehab. It helps disabled veterans prepare for a new job. You’ll be required to fill out a lot of paperwork and meet with a career counselor. According to Erik, vets have used the program “to obtain everything from initial flight training to actual type ratings.”
He cautions that most VR&E counselors aren’t pilots, so you’ll need to be prepared coming into your meeting.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
WIOA is a federally-funded program that helps get Americans into high quality jobs. You’ll need to find a flight school that is an approved partner, meet with a counselor, and tackle a lot of paperwork.
WIOA paid for Erik’s Commercial Single Engine Land and Instrument Airplane certifications.
You really use the educational benefits you’ve earned to train for a career as a pilot, however, in most cases, you must obtain your Private Pilot’s License first.
That is unless you are attending an approved degree-producing program.
Grants and Scholarships
If you’re motivated, Erik says this is an easy way to get money! Scholarships for training exist within local communities and regions. You can also find scholarships here.
Aviation Workforce Development Grants
The FAA has the money to help encourage new pilots, but can’t provide scholarships or financial aid to applications. However, approved flight schools and charities can offer scholarships as a funded activity.
Credentialing Opportunities Online
The DOD SkillBridge program is basically a paid internship that allows you to spend several months training for your new career with an approved business. It is an opportunity for service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. DOD SkillBridge connects transitioning service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.
Metro partners with BreakTurn, formerly SkyBridge, a Skillbridge partner specifically helping veterans transition from the military to an aviation career.
Eric served 20 years as an Aircraft Mechanic in the Marines before retiring as a Gunnery Sergeant. He started Skillbridge with Metro in July 2023 and earned his A&P license a few months later! Here he is using his license for the first time to sign off work on a Metro Aviation helicopter.