First planes, now jobs—what doesn’t NMC help their aviation students land? Traverse City’s Northwestern Michigan College has partnered with American Eagle Airlines to offer NMC aviation students a streamlined process for gaining employment at the major US commercial carrier.

NMC aviation students will get a guaranteed job interview with American Eagle and a $10,000 signing bonus upon hire under a pipeline agreement the airline and NMC signed on Thursday, March 6. Under the terms, NMC students may participate in a first interview with American Eagle—a regional carrier based in Fort Worth, Texas—as early as their second year. Upon completion of both a bachelor’s degree with Davenport University and 1,000 hours as a certified flight instructor, the student will receive an offer of employment and a $10,000 signing bonus.

“We’re really looking for the top professional aviators,” said Richard King, manager of pilot recruitment at American Eagle. “There’s a lot more to being an airline pilot than having the license.” King visited NMC, and inspected everything from the syllabus to the aircraft fleet. He said NMC’s Aviation’s focus on safety, professionalism and customer service is what the airline seeks. “After getting to know their operations, we felt very confident in their level of training,” King said. “We offer the financial incentive because we’ve been able to show that pilots coming out of college aviation programs have a much higher success rate in our initial training than those without.”

NMC Director of Aviation Aaron Cook said the agreement is another asset to offer prospective students: “For our students to have a clear pathway to employment is important.  It’s an opportunity for the students to start earlier in their job hunt.”

NMC aviation students typically graduate in two years with 250 hours of flight time. Then it takes about 18 months to accrue the required 750 additional hours as a flight instructor, which a student can do while completing a bachelor’s.  After four years, whereas a student in a traditional bachelor’s program would just be beginning their flight instructor hours, an NMC student has the hours needed to get a job—and now, a route to one.  Says Cook: “Our students are a couple years ahead of the game.”

For more information on NMC’s Aviation Program, visit, or call the Director of Aviation, Aaron Cook, at 231.995.2914