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Jobs in the Aviation Industry

Many people are attracted to jobs in the airline industry for various reasons. Some people enjoy traveling, while others like the environment of working at an airport. While most people think of pilots and attendants when they think of airline jobs, there are many other jobs in the industry, from baggage handlers and ticket agents, to back office personnel such as customer service representatives, managers, supervisors, and professionals such as accountants and public relations representatives.

Working for an airline can be an enjoyable occupation, especially if you like working with people, since many jobs in the industry involve interfacing with people on a daily basis.

airline photoPeople who enjoy traveling will be attracted to the positions of pilots, engineers, or flight attendants. Other airline personnel such as managers and executives may also travel a great deal to visit various hubs situated across the country and worldwide. However, these jobs are not without their "down" side.

Many are considered high-stress jobs. Passengers can become unhappy quite quickly if they miss their flights or flights are canceled due to weather or mechanical failures. Airline personnel must be able to handle passenger complaints while remaining as calm as possible. Call center customer service personnel must also field their share of customer complaints and handle them appropriately. While it is not an easy field to be in, many workers find it rewarding.

Here is a list of some of the most prevalent jobs in the airline industry:

  • Air traffic controllers
  • Airplane mechanics
  • Aircraft pilots
  • Captain
  • Chief flight inspectors
  • Customer service representatives
  • Flight engineers
  • Flight inspectors
  • Flight instructors
  • Flight navigator
  • Flight schedulers
  • Flight training coordinators
  • Managers
  • Operations agents
  • Provisioning agents
  • Public relations agents
  • Ramp agents
  • Supervisor, in-flight services
  • Ticket agents

Under the headings below, we give you some basic information about obtaining a job in the airline industry. We’ll take a look at the future job market, the salary ranges of the leading positions in the field, and the education and training required to land a job.

Employment Outlook

The airlines industry can expect modest growth in the number of available jobs in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of airline jobs, particularly flight-related jobs such as pilots and flight engineers, to increase by 12% over current levels by 2018. The Bureau cites a growing population and number of flights for this average increase in jobs.

Unfortunately, one exception to this trend is in the position of flight attendants, which will see a lower increase in jobs, just 8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Air traffic controllers, who are usually hired by the Federal Aviation Administration, will see the biggest increase in the number of jobs, according to the Bureau, at 13%.

Salary Outlook

Airline personnel earn good salaries, although the range can vary from one airline to another. Pilots and flight engineers are very well compensated, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics citing a median annual salary of more than $110,000. Although co-pilots and those with lower seniority may earn less.

The Bureau says the median salary of flight attendants is approximately $35,000, although the potential to ear much more is definitely there. For example, in the mid-west, flight attendants can earn more than $50,000 per year.

Air traffic controllers also earn a significant salary, comparable to that of pilots, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau says the median salary for air traffic controllers is also more than $110,000. Other airline industry positions earn less.

Education and Training Requirements

Most airlines are now requiring pilots to hold a bachelor’s degree, although some will hire pilots with a minimum of two years of college or several years of military flight experience. Of course airline pilots must be licensed with the FAA. To become licensed, pilots must have at least 250 hours of flight experience and pass an examination.

Airline captains must have more than 1,500 hours of flight experience and meet other more stringent requirements and exams. Once hired, an airline usually provides a six to eight week training program for new pilots.

Flight attendants must also be certified by the FAA. Although not always a requirement, having a college degree is becoming more important when seeking a job as an airline attendant. To become certified, attendants must pass an exam that covers airline emergency procedures and similar information. Attendants also receive extensive training by the airline once hired.

People who would like to become air traffic controllers must take and pass a test administered by the FAA, and then receive 12 weeks of training.

While there are many additional airline industry positions, these are the ones most people are interested in, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be continued demand for these positions. People interested in obtaining them will need the right combination of education and experience to succeed.

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