Careers in Aviation


Aviation can be described as one of the most prestigious industry as far as employment opportunities are concerned. Aviation, as a term, describes the activities revolving around airborne flying devices, which are also referred to as aircraft. The activities involve the human factor, organizations and authorities that are charged with regulating these activities. This means that ticketing, ground air traffic control, piloting and cabin crew are all part of aviation activities. Bodies such as American Aviation Authority are all parts of the aviation industry.

There is a widely held misconception that career in aviation revolves around pilots, cabin crew members and other such visible and openly identifiable positions. However, this is not the case. Aviation is a very wide industry, and the careers that are open for job seekers in this industry are equally diverse. They extend beyond the aircraft itself, and include other ground based activities such as human resource management in the airport. As such, careers in this industry include, but are not limited to; pilot, air traffic control, aerospace engineer, airport management, systems engineer and jet mechanics.

This paper is going to examine career opportunities in the aviation industry. The writer will analyze at least six forms of careers in this industry. The analysis will include a general overview of the career, training that is required for the position, education requirement and salary prospects of the same.

Aviation Careers

Careers in Aviation

1: Pilot

This is one of the most prestigious careers in the aviation industry. There are many openings for pilots in aviation. This is because there are different classes of pilots to be found here (McGuire: 22). There are commercial pilots, who are involved in flying airplanes for passengers and cargo. This is considered to be the most prestigious class of pilots. There are also the ambulance pilots, who are involved in evacuation in emergencies. Military pilots are involved in flying of military airplanes (McGuire: 22). Fighter pilots are the ones that fly fighter jets.


The training for pilots varies depending on the cadre that the person wishes to join. This means that the training for commercial pilots differ from that of fighter pilots (McGuire: 22). The individual has to be trained in air navigation. This is generally how to maneuver the plane on air and on the ground. Interpretation of meteorological data is also a skill that has to be imparted on the pilot student. This is because weather forecasting is a very crucial aspect of aviation (McGuire: 24). As such, the trainee pilot has to be aware on how to read and interpret weather reports that are displayed on the console of the plane or on spreadsheets. Navigating adverse conditions, like riding out a storm, is also a necessary skill. The pilot is also the most senior person in the plane when it is airborne. This means that he is the one who is in charge of overseeing all the activities that are taking place within the plane. As such, he has to be trained on how to handle crew, especially under emergencies (McGuire: 24). For specialized pilots like for the fighter jets, specialized training is provided that corresponds to their field.


Likewise, the education for different cadres off pilots does vary. For an air traffic reporting pilot, a college education is what is required. An airline pilot must have a college education, and a four year degree is most preferable (McGuire: 23). This is the same for helicopter and corporate pilots.

Careers in Aviation

Salary Outlook

As of October 2009, the most highly paid pilot was that of airplane. He earns an average salary of $77,753 (McGuire: 24). Geophysical survey pilots earn an average of $72,500. Flight instructors are among the least paid pilots. They earn an average of $27,517.50 (McGuire: 24).

2: Flight Attendant

These are also referred to as cabin crews or air hosts or hostesses. They constitute aircrew in the plane. Their main duties involve ensuring the safety of the passengers, and also to ensure that the experience of the passenger is as smooth as possible (Dwight: 57).


Depending on the country where the training is undertaken, and depending on the airline requirements, flight attendants train for a period ranging from six weeks to half a year (Dwight: 57). For safety purposes, they are trained on evacuation management for the passengers in case of an emergency. They are also trained on how to fight fire onboard, first aid and how to survive in distress conditions, for example if the plane lands in a forest or desert (Dwight: 57). The flight attendant is also trained on customer relations, as he is the direct contact between the airline and the customer on board. They are taught how to present themselves and how to handle client queries.

As far as education is concerned, the flight attendant must have a college diploma or degree. Proficiency in foreign language is also preferable (Dwight: 57). In United States of America, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that flight attendants who are to attend an aircraft with

Careers in Aviation

more than twenty passengers to have a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency (Dwight: 57). This proves the educational level of the attendant. The average salary for a flight attendant as of October 2009 was $7,657.80 (Dwight: 57).

3: Flight Dispatcher

This is the person who is mandated with authorizing flights over approved routes (Kirkpatrick: 28). He plans and monitors the progress of an aircraft. Together with the pilot, he is charged with the safety of the flight (Kirkpatrick: 28). He has to sign, together with the pilot, the release order for the plane. He has the powers to delay, cancel or divert a flight.

The dispatcher should hold a license from the aviation authority of the relevant region. He has to be trained in meteorology and aviation in order to qualify for this career. In terms off education, a high school diploma is sufficient. At entry level, this position earns the candidate an average of $25,000 per annum.

4: Air Traffic Controller

The overall duty of this person is to control air traffic systems so that mid-air collisions are averted. They ensure a safe and orderly progress of the air traffic. They attain this by separating the aircrafts which are already airborne.

Most of the air controllers in the US are employed by the FAA. They have to undergo training through schools operated by air traffic department of the country. They must be trained on the peculiarities of their new area of operation if they are transferred from one location to another (Wallace: 69, Gutek: 94). They are trained in several disciplines, including Ground controlled

Careers in Aviation

approach, terminal radar control among others (Godwin: 78). They earn an average of $89,943

per annum (Gutek: 94).


Aviation is one of the major attractions for youngsters when it comes to picking careers. From early ages, children are captivated by airplanes, and for those people who pursues this line of career, this captivation has not worn down in adulthood. Rather, it has only got stronger. There are many fields that the career aviator can choose from. They range from pilot, flight attendant, and air traffic control and systems engineer. These positions are demanding, and call for extensive training and a lot of discipline. However, they are equally well paying. The airline pilots are one of most high earners in this field.


Dwight, B. H. Flight Attendant: A Demanding but Rewarding Profession. Flight Training

Magazine,                                                                                                                                                                           2(3), 2009.


Godwin, Y. T. Career in Aviation: A Guide for Aviation Students. Aviation News Magazine, 12(4) , 2007. 78.

Gutek, B. O. Challenges Facing Air Traffic Controllers in American Airports. Flight Training

Magazine, 5(3), 2008. 94.

Kirkpatrick, R. O. The Future of the American Aviation Industry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009.


Careers in Aviation

McGuire, B. D. Training Pilots in the Twenty First Century. Flight Journal, 3(4), 2009. 22-24.

Wallace, C. I. Transportation Officers and Controllers. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2007. 69.