Working adults with four-year degrees from accredited colleges or universities earn, on average, almost three times more than individuals without a degree. This pay gap led Newcomer and his colleagues to study attitudes of aviation and aerospace managers towards education. That study found that managers valued education in new hires, even though they did not deem it critical to their own positions. That finding indicated a potential paradigm shift towards the perceived value of education in the industry.

In the current qualitative, phenomenological research, we interviewed 14 managers from various capacities within the aviation and aerospace industries to determine the relative importance of education, certification, and experience when hiring or selecting new team members. The results indicated that managers value experience most when making staffing decisions. Next, they value certification or education, depending on the technical or managerial role. A majority of the managers did express that their attitudes towards the value of education had become stronger over their careers. The study has hiring implications for aviation and aerospace managers, as well as employees, in terms of what to focus on in interviews and in reviewing candidate credentials.