14 Exciting Aviation Jobs Besides Being a Pilot
16 December 2021 | Updated on November 21, 2023 | 1 comments
A job as a pilot may seem like a dream come true for many, but there are many other interesting jobs in aviation that offer just as much excitement and satisfaction, without the long hours, heavy travel and time away from home involved in many pilot jobs.
Some people may want to become mechanics, others might work as air traffic controllers and still others might fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But what types of aviation jobs exist besides being a pilot? What do they entail? Today we’ll explore 14 different types of other interesting jobs in aviation and at the airport, together with some of the expected salaries for those jobs.
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Jobs at the Airport
Airports terminals are a vital part of a city’s transport infrastructure. They are an essential step in your business or holiday trip, from the moment you step into the terminal until your plane departs. Hundreds of people work at different airport jobs to ensure that you arrive precisely where you need to be. These are not airline pilots, but the ground staff who have jobs in airports dedicated to improving your flight experience – even before you take to the skies.
Many folks are interested in the different types of aviation careers at an airport. And this article helps answer most questions about the educational requirements for entry-level and management jobs in airports. The level of training needed, the necessary work experience, the job responsibilities, and how much the jobs pay.
While the different airport jobs require varying skills and competencies, a common requirement is good communication skills across the board. Airport employees should communicate effectively while under pressure to ensure air safety for passengers and airport workers.
Here is the list of 14 other exciting jobs in aviation besides being a pilot.
1. Aircraft Mechanic or Technician
Annual Salary: $35,000 – $76,000
Aircraft mechanics and technicians are among the several jobs in the airport that are currently in high demand. According to Boeing, there is an expected demand for around 600,000 professionals in this position by 2031. This position requires that you know the guts of most aircraft.
Aircraft technicians are the tech guys of aircraft repair. They handle the electrical and avionics equipment, including evaluating flight data and diagnosing and fixing electrical problems. In contrast, aircraft mechanics are the heavy lifters. They perform scheduled aircraft maintenance and repairs. They also conduct inspections on mechanical and structural systems on an airplane to ensure it all works properly.
Aircraft mechanic or technician careers at an airport require extensive training and certifications. Minimal educational qualification is a high school diploma plus at least three years of a professional technical school.
2. Aeronautical Engineer
Annual Salary: $62,000 – $130,000
Aeronautical engineers are the big brains behind the design and production of aircraft electrical and propulsion systems. This is an excellent career at an airport for creative nerds who love to apply their mathematics and engineering theories to create operational aircraft and aircraft concepts. Typically a college degree in an engineering-related field is vital to becoming an aeronautical engineer. Other essential skills include analytical skills, attention to detail, and communication skills. Aeronautical engineers are employed by large commercial airlines and perform their jobs out of an airport hangar or office.
3. Airport Engineer
Annual Salary: $50,000 -$149,000
Perhaps an airport engineer is the most uncommon of the different airport jobs. But that does not mean they do not exist. The role of an airport engineer is to design and build airport structures in line with safety regulations. Airport engineers are also involved in the design and planning phase of an airport’s layout and the post-construction maintenance of runways and other aviation facilities.
Being an airport engineer is one of the most rewarding careers at an airport because the public admires and uses your finished projects. Airport engineers are essentially civil engineers with some mechanical engineering background or knowledge. You need a college degree in engineering and several years of experience working on industrial projects.
4. Airport Security officer
Annual Salary: $27,000 – $40,000
Passengers flying through airports are familiar with airport security officers. It is one of the most common careers at an airport with over 42,470 positions across United States airports in 2017. Airport security officers in the United States are called Transportation Security Officers (TSO). They work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that has authority over airport security in the United States after 9/11.
Airport security officers are among the different airport jobs that ensure passenger compliance with security regulations. They screen you and your baggage at airport control entry and exit points to ensure no bombs on you. They also check passenger IDs and perform pat-downs before allowing you to board your flight.
You do not need a college degree to be an airport security screener. Still, like other sensitive security jobs in airports, you must undergo several hours of intensive training and exhaustive personal screening before you get a chance to become one.
5. Air Marshal
Annual Salary: $21,000 – $140,000
If keeping people safe is your passion, then being an air marshal is one of the best jobs in airports available for you. Air marshals are armed, plain-clothed security agents and their primary role is protecting commercial flights from hijackers and terrorists.
Passengers hardly notice air marshals, but they watch passengers and people working on different airport jobs. They also perform counter-terrorism activities keeping national aviation infrastructures safe. The Federal Air Marshal Service regulates air marshals within the United States. In other countries, air marshals are either a part of police departments or private airline contractors.
A degree program or law enforcement experience in a related field are requirements for becoming an air marshal. Additionally, you must be willing to submit to invasive background checks, proficiency tests, medical exams, and drug tests before becoming an air marshal.
6. Commercial Air Traffic Controller
Annual Salary: $82,000 – $124,540
Imagine working on a job where the slightest mistake or inattention can cause a disaster of unimaginable proportions, and you will have an air traffic controller. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, it is one of the most highly demanding and competitive jobs in airports, with an expected growth rate of only 3% by 2026.
Air traffic controllers ensure flight safety by coordinating ground and airborne pilots around airports, issuing landing and take-off instructions, relaying pre-flight weather updates and runway activity, and helping airport emergency rescue crews. An air traffic controller job is one of those professional careers at an airport that do not require a college degree. However, you need to complete an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative and submit a thorough screening process, including drug tests.
7. Flight Dispatcher
Annual Salary: $37,000 -$90,000
If punctuality is your thing, then being a flight dispatcher is one of the best careers at an airport for you. A flight dispatcher, also known as an aviation scheduler, is one of the most crucial jobs in airports enabling flight operations to run on schedule. Flight dispatchers create flight departure and arrival schedules and collaborate with pilots to develop a flight plan. A broad understanding of aviation and meteorological subjects is essential for flight dispatchers. Also, in-depth knowledge and experience of flight logistics and aircraft are crucial.
8. Flight Attendant
Annual Salary: $27,000 – $66,000
No other jobs in airports impact your flight experience the way a flight attendant does. A flight attendant’s primary role is to ensure passenger’s comfort and safety throughout their flight. They also assist with special needs passengers, help secure the flight deck, and relay emergency instructions, including emergency life vests and oxygen masks.
You do not need a college degree to become a flight attendant. However, a smiley and upbeat demeanor are essential, so grouches need not apply. There are flight attendant schools for interested applicants, and airlines will train new employees for several weeks before they qualify for an FAA Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency.
Prepare to spend several days away from your home and loved ones managing belligerent or rude passengers if you seriously consider a flight attendant’s job. However, being a flight attendant does have its rewards because you get to travel around the world, see amazing sights and meet interesting people.
9. Airport Managers
Annual Salary: $90,327 – $109,778
An airport manager is probably one of the most critical careers at an airport. These guys are the primary policy-maker responsible for the organized chaos in every large or small airport you visit.
Airport managers are an airport’s primary policy-maker responsible for creating different airport jobs. Their role includes overseeing daily operations, managing other airport employees, and managing the airport’s finance, maintenance, security, regulations compliance, budget planning, and future development.
Large commercial airport managers must have excellent communication and leadership skills because they work with many federal, state, and local officials and agencies to make airports safe and efficient. An airport manager is one of the jobs in airports that requires a college degree.
10. Airfield Operations Specialists
Annual Salary: $28,000 – $48,000
Large airports are mini-cities with thousands of people performing different airport jobs simultaneously. This can create problems on busy runways where thousands of airport employees and vehicles are around moving aircraft. The responsibility of an airfield operations specialist is to coordinate all ground control operations, supervise the safe movement of aircraft, vehicles, and employees on the runway, maintain logs, and prepare daily operation reports, including revenue from aircraft landings. It is one of the several jobs in airports requiring an aviation or management-related college degree and prior experience working in ground control operations jobs at airports.
11. Baggage Handlers
Annual Salary: $25,000 – $38,000
Passengers hardly notice airport baggage handlers – unless their luggage is damaged or missing. A baggage handler is one of several jobs in airports that can affect your overall flight experience.
As the job title implies, baggage handlers sort passenger luggage, mail packages, and air shipments heading for different destinations around the globe. Newbie baggage handlers are called ramp agents. They must be available to work 8-12 hour long shifts lifting heavy bags and packages onto an automated baggage sorting system at breakneck speeds.
Baggage handling is an entry-level job requiring a high school diploma. Post-employment training is often intense, and candidates often go through a crash course memorizing airline codes and flight destinations.
12. Aircraft Cargo Handling Supervisor
Annual Salary: $24,000 – $59,000
Individuals looking beyond entry-level careers at an airport might consider the role of an aircraft cargo handling supervisor. Their responsibility includes coordinating and supervising ground crew operations, including cargo loading and unloading, aircraft cargo securing, and staging.
Math skills and computer proficiency are essential because aircraft cargo handling supervisors calculate cargo quantity and orientation and use computers to determine the airplane center of gravity. An aircraft cargo handling supervisor is one of the most sensitive jobs in airports because loading an aircraft improperly can cause it to crash. Therefore they may escort the load and perform in-flight checks with the loading crew.
The minimal educational qualification for an aircraft cargo handling supervisor position is a high school diploma, but a college degree in aviation logistics can be beneficial. Key employers include air freight companies and passenger airlines.
13. Ticketing / Gate Agent
Annual Salary: $23,000 – $57,000
Suppose your idea of a typical day at the office is dealing with thousands of anxious and frustrated passengers insisting on carrying loads of carry-on bags that are too big to fit in overhead storage bins. Then the job of a ticketing or gate agent is right up your alley.
Gate agents perform various jobs in airports, including driving the jetway and opening and closing gate doors, conducting passenger boarding, gate checking bags, directing passengers to the correct boarding gates, and arranging wheelchairs for old and infirm passengers. If that seems too much, add answering endless questions to the mix.
Individuals desiring to kickstart their gate agent careers at an airport should have excellent communication skills, a calm and pleasant demeanor, good grooming habits, in addition to being physically fit. Sounds too much? Airlines typically provide training for would-be gate agents, but you need to have a high school diploma or GED. Prior experience in a customer service role is essential, and you must pass a TSA background test.
14. Aircraft Refueler
Annual Salary: $30,000 – $40,000
It’s not glamorous, but an aircraft refueler is one of many jobs in airports that enable others to fly. Although airlines hire their own fuelers, an aircraft refueler position with a ground handler or cargo company can be equally rewarding because of the increased levels of responsibility you enjoy.
An aircraft refueler is often a high school graduate with a minimum of a Class B commercial driver’s license. They are responsible for the safe and efficient refueling of aircraft at the airport. This includes moving fuel trucks around the airport, filling tanks, checking for fuel contamination, and keeping accurate records of all fuel handled.
Aircraft refuelers typically work rotating shifts that include weekends and holidays. Because airports are busy 24 hours, refuelers must be able to adapt their work schedule to meet the needs of the airport.
Although airline pilots tend to hog all the glory, there are many other exciting jobs in aviation that you can consider pursuing. From baggage handlers to aircraft cargo handling supervisors, these positions provide opportunities for career growth and advancement. So if you’re looking for a job in airports, don’t forget to explore these other exciting options!