As the aviation industry continues to grow, there are more opportunities than ever before for those with the right skills. From pilots to mechanics to customer service reps, there are plenty of options for those looking to enter the field. But what are the best jobs in aviation? Here’s a look at some of the most popular positions and what they entail.
You don’t have to be a pilot to work in aviation. If you have a love for planes or travel in general, there are myriad jobs in aviation that may appeal to you. From airline customer service reps answering phone calls in a call center to handling baggage on the tarmac at the airport, there are numerous opportunities for those looking for unique positions with diverse responsibilities. No matter what skills or educational background you possess, there is something out there in aviation that everyone can do.
Whether you’re starting fresh on a new career path or want to pivot from what you’re doing now, take a look at some of the many options available for employment in aviation. From airports to flight schools, there’s something for everyone.
- Airline Pilot
- Flight Attendant
- Aircraft Mechanic
- Air Traffic Controller
- Airport Security Officer
- Baggage Handler
- Ramp Agent/Ground Staff
- Aviation Maintenance Technician
- Avionics Technician
- Customer Service Representative (CSR) at the Gate or in a Call Center
- TSA Officers (Transportation Security Administration)
- Flight Dispatcher/Airline Scheduler
- Meteorologist (for airlines)
- Aerospace Engineer
- UAV Pilot / Drone Operator
- Flight Instructor
- Instrument Instructor
Wondering what’s required for a job in aviation? Let’s take a look at some of the training, schooling, and experience that’s needed for some of the best jobs in the industry.
Anyone who wants to become a commercial airline pilot must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, be at least 21 years old, obtain an FAA-approved Private Pilot Certificate, and pass the FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) written exam. They must also complete 1,500 hours of flying time as well as meet other requirements related to flying experience, medical certificates, and more.
Higher education that can be applied toward pilot training includes degrees in the following:
- Aviation Technology
- Aerospace Engineering
- Aeronautical Science
- Air Traffic Management
Additionally, time spent flying in the military may be counted toward your pilot training requirements, allowing you to earn your commercial pilot’s license in less time.
Not interested in working as a commercial airline pilot with your pilot’s license? FLT Academy has some suggestions for career paths you can explore. Check out their blog article HERE.
To become a commercial airline flight attendant, you must be at least 18 years of age and have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Flight attendants also need to be certified in CPR, first aid, and emergency procedures such as the evacuation of the aircraft in an emergency. Many airlines require applicants to speak more than one language fluently and have some college education.
Training can include anywhere from three to six weeks based on the airline, during which time you’ll learn all the ins and outs of the industry. Besides the technical skills needed to help prepare a plane for takeoff and landing, flight attendants also need to be comfortable lifting luggage to assist passengers, as well as handing out food and drinks during flights when applicable.
If you’re interested in becoming an aircraft mechanic, you’ll need to first earn your airframe and powerplant (A&P) certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). To do so, you’ll need to attend an aviation maintenance technician school that’s certified by the FAA. This can take anywhere from 12 months to 24 months depending on the school you attend. You’ll also need to pass a written exam and complete an FAA-approved practical test.
Air traffic controllers are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in the sky. To become an air traffic controller, you must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and pass a series of tests given by the FAA. You also need to be able to speak English clearly and understand ATC phraseology.
CSRs are usually the first point of contact for customers at an airport. To become a customer service representative, you must have excellent customer service skills, communication skills, and be able to work in a fast-paced environment. You may also need to pass a background check and get security clearance from the TSA. Call centers use myriad solutions to elevate customer experiences, such as what’s offered by Xima. As such, requirements for working in customer service for an airline may include having basic computer and phone skills to accurately log calls and issues for each customer.
Additionally, a CSR for an airline or airport may need to be bilingual and have an understanding of airline terminology and regulations.
To be a flight instructor, you must have a Commercial Pilot License and an Instrument Rating. You may also need to have additional certifications such as a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) certificate or a Tailwheel Endorsement. In addition, you’ll need experience in teaching others how to fly safely, effectively, and efficiently.
Depending on what you want to do at the airport, you may not need a lot of training or experience. Some jobs include working in food service, ticketing, baggage claim, or security.
To work in security, you must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. You may also need to complete special training such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Security Officer training program. Skills include being able to use X-ray machines, metal detectors, and working well with people.
To work in retail, custodial, or at a restaurant, you may just need to pass a background check in order to work onsite at the airport.
Besides being something that you enjoy, the benefits of working at the airport can include:
- Discounted airfare
- Developing skills that apply to a variety of employment opportunities
- Flexible working hours
- Meeting diverse groups of people
Whether you want to work in the skies or stay on the ground, there are a lot of possibilities for a satisfying career in aviation!