Careers in aviation: It’s more than just flying

By COURTNEY HENDERSON

The most recognized careers in aviation are those that are the most visible, such as being a pilot. Even those of us already involved in general aviation may not realize just how many jobs are available in the aviation and airport businesses.

Because an airport operates much like a small town, there is a wide variety of duties. From entry-level to upper management, there are many different types of job opportunities available in many different fields.

For example, at general aviation airports (as well as those with airline service), you would find:

  • Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians: These employees work to diagnose and repair any airplane maintenance issues. In addition to mechanical work, there are also cleaning technicians who work to keep the aircraft clean and tidy and technicians who re-stock the aircraft with food and beverages. These workers also help guide the aircraft in and out of the terminal. At FBOs, they provide scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
  • Airport Maintenance: Whether it is an electrician, plumber or janitor, airports need these types of workers to keep the airport in tip top shape.
  • Airport Management: Airports are always working to improve their operations and property, as well as to manage their investments. Airport managers work in many areas, including finance, construction and general administrative work. All airport project development and implementation is managed by these workers.
  • Air Traffic Control: Air traffic controllers help keep air traffic flowing smoothly with a goal to prevent collisions. Most of these employees work for the FAA and must undergo rigorous training before beginning their job, while some towers are staffed by contract workers who are employed by the private sector.

Of course, there are other career opportunities at the larger airports that primarily serve the airlines, such as:

  • Airline Ticket Agents and Travel Clerks: These employees are hired by the airlines to work at the flight check-in and baggage check counters. Duties of this position include making and confirming reservations, issuing boarding passes and checking luggage. There are also gate agents that work in the terminals and often confirm seat assignments and board passengers onto the plane. Travel clerks also often work in call centers, making reservations and answering fight questions.
  • Baggage Handlers: These employees are hired by the airlines to load and unload all passenger baggage. The departure city crew is responsible for making sure all baggage makes it from the flight check-in point to the correct aircraft, and the arrival city crew is responsible for making sure the baggage makes it from the aircraft to the correct pick-up spot. In addition to
  • Cargo Opportunities: Some airlines also offer mail and cargo transportation to clients. Employees in this sector of the airline industry sell cargo space, weigh and track cargo and move cargo from a warehouse location to an airport ramp and onto the correct aircraft.
  • Information Technology Workers: Since most airline operations are handled via computer, it is necessary for all major airlines to have their own IT departments. Employees in this sector work to troubleshoot any system operations errors or issues. They also work on creative projects to meet the IT demands of the airline. These employees often work at the airline’s corporate headquarters.
  • Credit Unions: Several major airlines have credit unions and hire workers who are interested in finance, investments and insurance.
  • Airline Corporate and Management Positions: Corporate positions include Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, Finance, Risk Management, among other professional positions. These employees work at corporate headquarters.
  • Airport Concession Workers: All airport food and retail space is leased by the airport to the business. Therefore, if you work at a McDonald’s that is located in an airport, you work for McDonald’s not the airport. Positions in this sector often include cashier attendant, kitchen cook or chef, kitchen attendant, servers, bartenders and managers.
  • Airport Security: These employees are hired by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to guarantee the security of all passengers and crew. Airport positions include security officers, inspectors, managers and directors.
  • Special Service Workers: These employees are hired by the airport to assist travelers with various things, including language translation and wheelchair or transportation help.

For more information on aviation or airport careers, visit the FAA career website or the employment webpage of your local airport.

Courtney Henderson is writer and editor for AirportManagementDegrees.com.

People who read this article also read articles on airparks, airshow, airshows, avgas, aviation fuel, aviation news, aircraft owner, avionics, buy a plane, FAA, fly-in, flying, general aviation, learn to fly, pilots, Light-Sport Aircraft, LSA, and Sport Pilot.

Comments

  1. An EXCELLENT piece and long over due!

    If you want to be around “airports and airplanes”, perhaps the BEST and most SECURE jobs/positions are not in “pure piloting” civilian careers, but in airport/maintenance management, financially sound manufactures, FAA, military and with large FBO chains.

    Do you want to live at home until your 37,drive a 94 Toyota Corolla and tell your date or girl (or guy) friend the “dinner” at Burger King is off till payday? 

    Make a good living in one of these, have financial security, retirement benefits and fly your Extra, restored classic “T-6″, Stinson Voyager or Cub on weekends! 

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