Aviation jobs you may not have considered
Airline careers are taking off! The airline industry is exciting, vibrant and diverse. There are hundreds of job tracks available including ground-based, air-based and office positions. Rewarding, fulfilling jobs are waiting for you regardless of your experience or education level. Interested in learning more about opportunities within the aviation industry? You’re at the right place. Our complete guide to airline careers has everything you need to know including detailed job descriptions, requirements, salary and more. Finding, and landing, the perfect airline job has never been easier! Let’s take a look at the careers:
23 Mar 2016
Airport Services Officer
Airports are some of the busiest places in the world. Many people are necessary in order to keep everything running smoothly. An Airport Services Officer is responsible for all operations within designated areas of an airport.
This is a managerial position where you’ll supervise other airport employees. Main responsibilities include ensuring the safety of both employees and the public while helping operations complete as fast as possible. The Airport Services Office is ultimately responsible for traveler satisfaction, safety and security.
Typical requirements include a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of experience in an airport- related field. Additionally, you’ll need to understand weight, balance, ramp handling, dangerous goods regulations and other measurements specific to airline operations. The ability to make quick decisions while under stress is also vital for success in this role.
The details of this job vary depending on the size and type of airport. For this reason, salary is a bit hard to estimate accurately -- but you’re generally looking at a starting salary of around $40,000. This can increase substantially for a person with a lot of experience who is working at a large airport.
The runway is a hectic place filled with people, vehicles and equipment. The Operations Controller is responsible for coordinating all the ground control operations. This is a fast-paced job where you’ll be directly responsible for the safety of both the public and employees.
The Operations Controller oversees the parking and movement of all aircraft and vehicles on the runway. Additionally, he or she maintains logs, prepares reports and tabulates aircraft revenue landings. You’ll also be responsible for maintaining safety during any emergency procedures or unique conditions.
At large airports, the Operations Controller will work from an office located inside the terminal. Office hours are generally traditional day hours, with exceptions for emergencies, severe weather and other special situations.
This is not an entry-level positions. Applicants typically need at least two years of experience in airport ground control operations. Larger airports also usually require a college degree in a related field such as public relations, air transportation, business management, engineering or personal administration.
Like many other airport positions, the Operations Controller must first pass a pre-employment, fingerprint-based criminal history record check. This grants clearance to Security Identification Display Areas (SIDA). In order to pass this background check, the applicant must have no felonies on their record dating back at least 10 years.
Pay is based on experience of the applicant as well as the size of the airport. Starting salaries average around $28,000. Larger, busier airports generally pay higher wages while also requiring more experience. At these levels, salary increases into a range of around $45,000.
Passenger Service Agent
Airlines can be busy and even a little chaotic. A passenger service agent is responsible for ensuring every traveler has a smooth experience. Typical duties include working with passengers on their specific issues. This includes baggage claim, reservations, special assistance and other general customer service functions.
A high school degree is generally required. Since this is a customer-focused job, customer service experience is also preferred. You’ll be dealing with a wide range of problems each day. So you’ll need to be courteous, professional and able to think on your feet.
You’ll also need to be somewhat familiar with computers systems. As a passenger service agent, you’ll need to access the airline’s software. The specifics will be taught to you during training, but basic computer skills and familiarity are a plus.
This career is growing. There’s an estimated 13% growth in the field between 2012 and 2022. The average annual salary is around $33,000. If you enjoy talking to people, solving problems and helping create a great traveling experience, this career is one to look into.
Airports move more than just people. A lot of freight is also moved through on a daily basis. Organizing, tracking and managing all of this freight is the job of the Storeman and his or her Assistant Storemen.
A Storeman and his Assistants are ultimately responsible for all airport freight. They track and monitor every package in order to ensure it arrives at the appropriate destination. When necessary, they also engage with customer service representatives and other parties whenever freight is missing, damaged or delayed.
An ideal candidate will have several years of experience in a warehouse environment. In order to be successful, you’ll need to be highly organized and capable of independent operation. Because you’re dealing with packages of various sizes and types, excellent physical fitness is another important requirement.
At the same time, you’ll also need excellent customer service skills. When packages are missing, people tend to become angry. You’ll need to remain professional, even when the cause of the damage is not the fault of the airport.
An Assistant Storeman earns, on average, around $25,000. This job generally has plenty of opportunities for growth. Most Storemen at major airports were promoted up from the Assistant Storeman position.
Every airport has a regular influx of special guests. This includes corporate clients, celebrities, dignitaries and other high profile guests. A corporate/VIP receptionist is responsible for assisting these special clients during their time in the airport.
This includes providing a high level of personalized service. You’ll need to maintain a professional, friendly demeanor at all times. You’ll shepherd the client (or clients) throughout the airport, ensuring their needs are met and their journey successful.
A successful candidate will have both excellent interpersonal skills and comprehensive knowledge on the inner-workings of the airport. This includes several years of experience in customer service in a VIP/First Class/Five Star hospitality environment.
The hours vary as VIP clients can arrive from anywhere around the world. Most Corporate Receptionists work from an office inside the terminal, but their duties will take them around the entire airport. Salary depends on the experience of the individual and the size of the airport. This is one of the top jobs in the airport customer service industry, usually reserved for those with a strong background in hospitality services.
VIP Charter Broker
Private flights are big business at many airports. A VIP charter broker is responsible for arranging these private flights on behalf of corporate clients, celebrities and other VIPs. This involves coordination with both airport services and individual clients.
Excellent communication skills are a vital requirement for this position. Many different people and organizations charter planes. You’ll need to understand and anticipate their needs. Depending on the specific situation, you might also be responsible for finding and developing relationships with new clients.
An effective broker also needs a strong background in airplanes. This will help you recommend and assist clients in selecting the right aircraft for their needs. Part of your duties will including communicating with pilots, mechanics and others with deep technical knowledge – so you’ll need to speak their language.
Education requirements aren’t specific, but a background in both communications and aviation is obviously an asset. This is a specialized field. If you gain experience on a small airfield, you’ll then be ready to find a higher paying position at a larger airport.
Customer Service Leader
Air travel isn’t always a great time. There are many ways a trip to the airport can be confusing, frustrating and just plain aggravating for the average traveler. As a Customer Service Leader, your job is to help create a frustration-free experience for everyone who visits your airport.
Main responsibilities include processing tickets, helping passengers board and deplane, helping load and unload baggage, and other general functions. You’ll also need to provide individual attention to any travelers who need directions, special assistance or with other problems which need to be solved.
Qualified applicants will have great customer service skills. This includes the ability to remain calm and professional even when faced with enraged travelers. When the weather is good, and the airlines are all running on time, being a Customer Service Leader is smooth sailing. But when bad weather hits and flights are faced with cancellation, you’ll have angry customers you’ll need to deal with. This won’t always be pleasant, but you’ll still need to maintain a great attitude.
Starting salary averages around $20,000 a year. With experience, a Customer Service Leader can take on a more supervisory position. This can increase salary levels up to $36,000 annually.
Airside Team Leader
There’s a lot of cargo moving around on the airfield. The Airside Team Leader is the person ultimately responsible for proper cargo delivery. This involves managing both staff and equipment while allocating resources in the most efficient manner possible.
This is a supervisory role. You’ll need to provide leadership and direct supervision to your entire airside crew. This includes managing personality conflicts, schedules and other functions.
At the same time, you’ll also need to know the details of the airport scheduling system. You’ll need to accurately process, store and dispatch both inbound and outbound baggage, cargo, mail, courier and unit load devices.
Specific duties include close monitoring of all relevant flight schedules, task delegation and general supervision. Additional tasks vary but include handling lost baggage, dispatching advisory messages and conducting various administrative tasks. Generally, you’ll supervise about 60 people each shift.
This is not an entry-level position. Most airports require a minimum of three years performing related duties. Airside Team Leader is a fast-paced, rewarding position with a lot of responsibility. If you’re interested, the first step is to gain experience on the tarmac airside.
Airport Services Supervisor
The Airport Services Supervisor is ultimately responsible for the entire airport experience. They oversee the movement of all passengers and freight within the airport. They also monitor all airport employees, vendors and other businesses.
This is a supervisory role. The Airport Services Supervisor is ultimately responsible for investigating any issues with employees and equipment. The Supervisor is also the final authority for handling customer complaints.
Typical requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Many Airport Services Supervisors earn a degree in business administration with emphasis on either engineering or air transportation. Quite a few people in this position have post-graduate degrees in administration.
Starting salary is around $58,000. This can increase dramatically with experience. Veteran Supervisors at a large airport can make upwards of $70,000.
Service Desk Analyst
There are a ton of computer systems involved in the operation of an airport. As a Service Desk Analyst, your job is to make sure all those systems are running smoothly. This includes troubleshooting and maintaining all systems used by travelers, employees and any relevant third parties.
This is a technical job involving a high degree of computer ability. Successful candidates will have years of experience working at a fast-paced IT Service Desk.
Beyond purely technical skills, candidates also need strong verbal and written communication skills. You’ll be dealing with employees from all over the airport with variable levels of technical expertise. Professional, friendly communication skills are a necessary asset.
You’ll be the primary technical contact point for the entire airport’s IT needs. This mean you’ll need a wide breadth of experience. Even if you’re not the IT employee tasked with the specific repair, you’ll still need to understand all of the IT requests which come in so you can then properly manage and delegate each task.
As a Service Desk Analyst, you’ll typically work a 40 hour workweek, although hours may vary based on specific needs. Usually an upper-level IT Analyst will be on-call at times. IT problems have the potential to shut down an entire airport. So some members of the IT team will need to be on-site at all times. If you’re the newest hire, don’t be surprised if you get some of the less than desirable shifts until you have more seniority. Salaries start around $23,000 with benefits.
Aviation Security Officer
Security is always a top priority at any airport. As an aviation security officer, your job is to protect everyone at the airport from threats, criminal activity, terrorism and more. This is an exciting, dynamic position with rather tough requirements. Tough, but rewarding, as most security officers report a very high job satisfaction.
Perhaps surprisingly, many of the job duties revolve around customer satisfaction. Officers are often the public face of the airport. This is an excellent job for anyone who enjoys interacting with the general public.
Security officers work everywhere in and around the airport. Aside from the terminal, officers are stationed on the runways, access roads, gates and backstage areas. A successful officer will be familiar with the entire airport.
Not just anyone can be a security guard, of course. You’ll need a high school diploma, although a college degree is usually preferred. All Aviation Officers need to pass a background check, drug test, physical exam and federal security certification. Applicants need to have a clean criminal record.
Aviation Security earn an average of $20 an hour. Starting wages vary from about $9 to $15 an hour, depending on experience. Experienced guards can eventually earn upwards of $45,000 a year. Benefits are usually provided with this position. Specifics are determined by location and employer.
Security guards are responsible for the safety of hundreds of thousands of people every day. If you’re interested in a way to make a positive difference in the lives of others, this is the airport job for you.
Planes are busy places. Passengers board and deplane throughout the day and night. This means each plane needs to be thoroughly cleaned between each flight. This is the job of the Aircraft Cleaner, also known as a Cabin Serviceperson.
Duties for this job include collecting trash, replacing headrests, replacing pillow covers, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and other custodial work. Time is important here; the entire plane needs to be cleaned in about 15 minutes.
Cleaners are typically also responsible for the outside of the aircraft. These duties include washing and polishing the aircraft. Some less common duties include touch-up painting and de-icing. For exterior plane work, certain maintenance chemicals are often used.
This is an entry-level job requiring the ability to work quickly in cramped conditions. Pay is often based on experience. This is shift work. Applicants must be familiar with cleaning products and procedures.
Terminal Security Officer
Airports are some of the most highly secure areas in the world. There are several levels of security personnel on-site including local and federal authorities. Private security plays an important role, too.
Terminal Security Officers patrol, monitor and respond to problems anywhere on the airport grounds including the terminal, runway and parking areas. Security is staffed at various screening areas around the airport. Duties include checking identification, monitoring public areas, and operating X-ray scanners and metal detectors.
The salary range varies. Part-time work averages about $18,000 starting with experienced agents earning up to around $40,000 a year. This high salary range is usually for someone without previous law enforcement, military or specialist experience. The national average for this position is around $32,000.
Requirements vary but a high school diploma is generally necessary. Also, the applicant will need to be physically fit. Terminal security work requires the ability to stand and walk for many hours. You’ll also need an eye for detail and a natural curiosity.
The selection process is, naturally, very rigorous. All applicants will undergo a background check, drug check, physical exam and security certification. Typically, a criminal record is an automatic disqualification.
Terminal security can be a tough job. But the work presents a real opportunity to keep people safe. This can be a very rewarding career.
Duty Manager Airside
Interested in the behind-the-scenes action at the airport? Become an Airside Duty Manager. This position involves a wide variety of duties designed to help airport operations function smoothly and safely.
Basic job functions for the Duty Manager include overseeing all aspects of a daily shift. The Duty Manager is responsible for ensuring all functions are performed in a way consistent with airport policy, TSA regulations and public safety.
This includes supervising staff, safeguarding company property and preparing daily incident reports. Duty Managers report directly to the Operations Manager.
Candidates for a Duty Manager position typically need about two years in the aviation industry and at least three years in a supervisory/managerial role. All candidates will need to pass a Security Threat Assessment test (administered by the TSA), a Security Background Check (administered by US Customs and Border Patrol) and a 10 year background check.
This job also requires a flexible schedule, great communication skills and the ability to make decisions independently. While you’ll work in an office for most of the time, there are additional duties you’ll need to perform outside regardless of the weather.
The average starting salary for this position is $57,000. Most companies also offer full benefits. This is a great career for an experienced manager with an interest in basically all areas of airport operation.
Airports need to stay constantly vigilant for terrorist and criminal threats. There are many layers of security involved. Aside from law enforcement personnel, private security forces also play an important role in keeping the airport safe.
A Security Patroller helps monitor all areas of the airport. This is done in a variety of ways: CCTV, foot patrols, vehicle patrols, checkpoints and more.
In many respects, this is a customer service job. You’ll often be approached by travelers who need directions or other help. So an ideal candidate will enjoy interacting with the general public.
Of course, you’ll also remain constantly vigilant for threats and suspicious behavior. This includes duties such as checking IDs, understanding body language and maintaining proper situational awareness.
Ideal candidates will have at least a high school diploma, although a bachelor’s degree in a criminal justice field is preferred. All candidates will need to be physically fit. A typical shift includes about eight hours of standing, walking, driving and sitting (while monitoring cameras).
Strict background checks are also performed before hiring. Applicants will need to pass a drug test, criminal background test, physical exam and FAA security certification. Previous military or law enforcement experience can be helpful here.
Starting salaries vary between $9 and $15. With experience, salaries can increase to over $40,000 annually. Most airport security jobs include full benefits.
Security Patroller is a popular airport job. After all, every day is an adventure! If you’re interested in an exciting job where you’ll be able to help people every day, check into the role of Security Patroller.
Airport Fire Manager
An airport is basically a city onto its own. An airport fire manager is responsible for that “city’s” fire protection. This is an advanced position typically requiring extensive experience.
Duties are complex and wide ranging. The Fire Manager is responsible for planning, organizing and directing emergency services. These includes fire, medical, rescue and more. Aside from logistics, you’ll also need to oversee budgeting, planning and other bureaucratic issues.
This job is a lot of responsibility and the compensation reflects that. The starting salary varies from around $60,000 to over $100,000 annually. Benefits are normally very generous, too. Most Airport Fire Managers receive full medical, dental and retirement plans.
The requirements for this job are extensive. Candidates need many years of experience related to aircraft firefighting and rescue work. Ideal candidates typically also need a strong background in fire science or a similar field.
There are additional special requirements. Most Fire Managers needs to complete Level II Firefighter C, HazMat certification, FAA fire/rescue certification, a security background check and a drug screening.
This certainly isn’t a job just anyone is qualified for. But it is a viable option for anyone with extensive fire management experience, especially if that fire experience relates to airports. If you’re looking for a lot of responsibility, augmented by a generous compensation package, the position of Airport Fire Manager can be very rewarding.
Operational Station Manager
This position is known by many titles including District Operations Manager, Station Manager or Station Agent. Regardless of the wording of the title, this is an important position. Ultimately, you’re responsible for all flight and ground operations. This includes duties related to both customer service and airport operations.
As an Operational Station Manager, you’ll find yourself with different duties all day long. Some examples include passenger services, aircraft logistics and air cargo operations. Duties vary by the size of the airport. In a smaller station, the Station Manager might also check baggage, make public announcements and even sell tickets!
This is a generally a position for someone who has experience with large business operations and aviation. At the same time, you’ll need to be a people person in order to thrive in this job. You’ll be dealing with customers, vendors, in-airport merchants and more.
A bachelor’s degree is almost always required for this position, and a post-graduate business degree is always looked upon favorably. Most Managers work from an office inside the terminal, but their daily duties will take them all over the airport into both customer-facing and behind-the-scenes areas.
This is an exciting job if you like a full day with a lot of responsibilities and human interaction. The average salary is $85,000. Most airports also offer full benefits.
This position is related to an airport’s fire department. The Watch is the term for a group of firefighters currently on duty. The Watch Commander is the person who takes charge during any incidents. Typically, the Watch Commander will have full control over small incidents, although higher level supervisors will take over during more serious emergencies.
There are a variety of emergencies which can occur in an airport. There are the “standard” incidents any fire department needs to handle: medical ailments, injuries and so on which can happen to members of the public as well as airport employees.
All firefighters need certifications in CPR, emergency medical technician and emergency medical response. Also, all firefighters need level I and II Firefighter Certifications from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress.
Aviation firefighters must meet additional requirements, too. This is because there are a lot of unique, hazardous chemicals which are found both on the runway and inside the aircraft. In order to stay safe in this environment, aviation firefighters need Hazardous Material Awareness certification and Hazardous Material Operation certification.
All firefighters must pass the PAT test. This is the standard Physical Agility Test. Applicants must run a mile in under eight minutes, climb obstacles and complete a timed rescue simulation. They must also pass a drug test, medical exam and criminal background check.
Watch Commanders are usually promoted from within. Not only do they typically have several years of firefighting experience, they usually also have a lot of experience in the specific geographic area they’re serving (in this case, the airport).
The average salary for a firefighter is around $40,000 while Watch Commanders generally make a bit more. Typically shifts are eight hours long, although hours may change during emergency situations.
There’s no shortage of excitement as an aviation firefighter. If you’re interested in a rewarding, challenging career, this is a position worth looking into. You can really make a difference in people’s lives for the better!
Even after a firefighter is hired, he or she will undergo regular training and instruction. After all, the department’s response to an emergency situation must be automatic. At the same time, no two situations at an airport are exactly the same. The fire department needs a thorough understanding of all the different hazardous chemicals which are located within an airport, and the proper safety measures to take if any of those chemicals leak or are otherwise exposed.
The Crew Commander is responsible for providing on-going training for the fire department. This person provides training on both a technical and practical level. Training is geared towards potential aircraft incidents, toxic chemical exposure and other airport-specific incidents.
Applicants must already be experienced firefighters, preferably in an airport setting. All firefighters must be certified in CPR, medical response and as a medical technician. Additionally, all aviation firefighters must have additional IFSAC certification in hazardous material awareness and operations.
Every firefighter, including the Crew Commander, must also pass the Physical Agility Test. This involves completing a variety of running, climbing and practice rescues. Applicants must also complete a background check, drug test and medical check-up.
There are no standard hours for a firefighter. After all, airports never close completely. A Crew Commander, however, generally trains the crew during daytime hours. If you’re an experienced firefighter who likes to learn and then share that knowledge with others, consider applying for a Crew Commander position.
Firefighters who work in an airport setting are faced with many unique challenges. An accident on the runway can involve dangerous, volatile chemicals and other materials not often found outside an aviation setting.
Larger airports have dedicated, on-site fire departments. Smaller airports rely on municipal firefighting departments, but in those cases the FAA recommends that at least one aviation firefighter is on staff at the airport. In all cases, firefighters who service airfields will need to have special training.
Firefighters are required to have firefighter I and II level certifications from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. Aviation firefighters require additional IFSAC certifications in hazardous material awareness and hazardous material operations.
Not all emergencies will occur on the runaway. Airport firefighters help handle medical emergencies among both employees and travelers. This means airport firefighters need certifications as an emergency medical technician, for emergency medical response and in CPR.
A high school degree is required although most employers prefer additional education such as a degree in fire science. Previous experience is also preferred. Many people gain experience as a volunteer firefighter or a firefighter in a small department before they apply to work on an airfield.
Aside from appropriate certifications, candidates must also meet the fire department’s Physical Agility Test. The PAT test involves running a mile in under eight minutes, stair climbs, ladder climbs and a timed rescue simulation. Applicants must also pass a medical exam and a drug test.
Firefighters need to always be at the ready. Aviation firefighters typically work one of three eight-hour shifts. The average salary is around $40,000.
Lead Commercial Delivery Manager
Not all traffic on an airfield is able to fly. There are many ground-based deliveries made on a daily basis. Coordinating and organizing these deliveries is the job of the Lead Commercial Delivery Manager.
An airport requires all sorts of stock. The small businesses and restaurants inside the terminal need supplies, merchandise and other daily deliveries. Additionally, the various service people and mechanics involved in air operations needs parts, machines and other deliveries.
The Lead Commercial Delivery Manager makes sure all these deliveries are made on time. He or she is also responsible for the security of all the vehicles which enter the airport. This extra step is important but also time-consuming and complicated.
An ideal candidate will have a high school diploma and several years of experience in a commercial delivery setting. This is an excellent job for someone who is highly organized and dependable. A thorough understanding of airport operations is also very important.
This is not an entry-level job. If this job sounds appealing, but you don’t have enough experience, you might try for an entry-level position in the Commercial Delivery section of an airport. Starting salaries begin around $20,000 while the Lead Commercial Delivery Manager will make significantly more.
Head of Operational Readiness
Operational Readiness and Airport Transfer, or ORAT, is a unique way to build or re-furbish airport infrastructure. The idea is incorporate various techniques into the construction phases of the project which will lead to faster operational readiness upon project completion.
Basically, the airport can open up new areas to the public quicker and more successfully than ever before. Any new areas will be fully operational on day one.
The Head of Operational Readiness is the person in charge of implementing these ORAT techniques. This is a specialized discipline so the ideal candidate will have either academic or work experience. A bachelor’s degree in a related field is preferred. Some useful fields would include architecture, business and other developmental fields.
Communication skills are also incredibly important for success in this position. You’ll need to coordinate the project with all airport stakeholders including airlines, government authorities, vendors and many others. Every group has their own needs and speaks their own language.
Hours can be long, especially during the final stages of the construction phase. Your schedule will largely be determined by the various parties you need to work with. This is a relatively high paying job, with an average salary starting around $52,000 and increasing all the way up to $70,000.
IT Senior Business Analyst
The entire airport is run by software systems. From relatively minor issues like determining inventory for the terminal stores to vital services like guiding the aircraft to a safe landing, almost all aspects of an airport depend on computer guidance.
The IT Senior Business Analyst is responsible for the both the computer systems behind the airport and the employees behind the systems. The perfect person for this position excels at both interpersonal communications and IT systems. You’ll be self-motivated, ethical, organized and responsible.
This position requires somebody who is a jack of all trades. An airport is like a small, interconnected city. Not all groups within the terminal use the same systems. Plus, IT security is critically important in an airport setting. You’ll need a solid understanding of computer system security protocols. This includes vetting and safeguarding systems from internal threats as well.
Requirements for this positions include what you’d expect from any major IT position. Typically post-graduate degrees are required as well as certifications. You’ll need a strong foundation in Business Intelligence Tools, Decision Support System, OLAP Technology, Statistical Data Analysis and end-to-end understanding of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).
At the same time, the applicant needs experience with an airport setting. An airport is unlike any other type of workplace in the world. Typically, this position is promoted from within or the applicant has lower-level IT experience at a different airport.
Airfield Transport Officer (Permanent)
Airports aren’t just about flying. If you love driving, there’s a place for you in aviation as an Airfield Transport Officer (Permanent).
This position involves driving, operating and maintaining a variety of vehicles in order to support all airport operations. Specific duties include moving luggage, helping clear runways, moving passengers and assisting in emergencies.
Requirements include general driving skills as well as the ability to operate all the specialist equipment. You’ll need excellent hand-eye coordination, the ability to accurately estimate load weight and the ability to operate vehicles in harsh weather with no visibility.
When the weather is at its worst, you’ll need to be at your best. This includes operating a variety of equipment and vehicles on live runways in coordination with other staff and aerodrome control.
Requirements include a clean driving record, criminal background check, drug screening and other security checks. You’ll also need a current driver’s license including but not limited to a Category C license.
You’ll need to know how to operate trucks, vans, adapted road sweepers, water tankers, dust carts, gully suckers and other specialty vehicles. Additional duties include properly maintaining and cleaning all of these vehicles.
If you have a lot of experience with ground-vehicles, the airport has an exciting potential career waiting for you as an Airfield Transport Officer.
Airfield Transport Officer (Fixed Team)
Airplanes aren’t the only vehicles in the aviation industry. A lot of ground-based vehicles are needed to keep the entire runway moving. Vehicles move baggage and cargo. They de-ice planes. They clear runways. As a Fixed Team Airfield Transport Officer, you’re in charge of all the land-based vehicles on the runway.
These vehicles include traditional trucks and vans. They also include water tankers, dust carts, luggage carts, de-icers, road sweepers and more. You’ll need to know how to operate and maintain these vehicles.
Requirements include experience with vehicle maintenance and a strong interest in driving. Past work in the automotive industry is a plus. A college degree isn’t typically required.
You’ll need to pass a drug screening, criminal background check and a security check. You’ll also need a clean driving record and a valid driver’s license rated C or more.
Runways rarely close. You’ll need to be skilled in driving in harsh weather including blizzards and harsh rainstorms. This is typically shift work which will include holidays, nights and weekends.
But if you love to drive equipment you’d otherwise never have access to, this can be a fun, thrilling career. There are plenty of aviation jobs for people who have no interest in leaving the ground.
Baggage Technical Services
Getting passengers to their destinations safely and on time is always the airline’s main goal. But delivering baggage accurately is pretty important, too. There are many different jobs related to baggage technical services.
Major airports utilize a Baggage Handling System, known as a BHS. This is an automated system which routes baggage from check-in, to the plane, and then to the baggage area. Running these systems is the job of the Baggage Technical Services department.
Duties includes acting as a contact point for all issues related to the BHS. This includes communication with both other departments within the airport as well as outside vendors.
While nothing in the world is exactly like a Baggage Handling System, relevant experience with similar systems is usually required. This includes solid experience running automated handling software.
Applicants must also be able to pass a variety of background and security checks. This is because all employees in baggage areas of an airport must have a Security Identification Display Area ID badge. This is issued by the Department of Homeland Security. Requirements for obtaining a badge include a criminal background, drug test and more depending on the specific nature of the petition.
Car Parking Services Coordinator
While airplanes are certainly an important part of any airline jobs, they’re not the only type of vehicle on the airport grounds. Thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of cars and trucks pass through an airport each day. The Car Parking Services Coordinator is responsible for ensuring this traffic moves efficiently and safely.
The Coordinator oversees the operation of airport parking facilities. This includes filing reports, overseeing cash, maintaining security and supervising parking lot cashiers. While the Coordinator typically operates out of an office, he or she will also spend a fair amount of time outside, regardless of the weather.
Qualified individuals will have a combination of both great people skills and great organizational skills. You’ll need to deal with both cashiers and customers. At the same time, you’ll also need to manage the logistics of operating the parking systems of the airport.
This is usually a middle management position. You’re responsible for the lot cashiers and ground employees while your work will be supervised by the Parking Shift Supervisor. Part of your duties might also include interacting with other organizations within the airport.
This position usually requires at least two years of experience in a related field. Most Coordinators start at a lower level position within an airport parking garage and are promoted from within. Salaries range from between $35,000 to $49,000.
Lead Designer – Passenger Experience
Airports are large, busy places. It can be all-too-easy for the people in charge of the airport to forget about the needs of the passengers. In order to ensure that the passenger experience is always a great one, airports hire Lead Designers for Passenger Experience.
This person is involved in either the initial construction or on-going refurbishment of existing structures. They approach everything from the perspective of a traveler. Is navigation clear? Is the airport clean and safe? Does the airport reflect the surrounding area in a positive way?
A Lead Designer will need an extensive background in environmental design. A bachelor’s degree or even post-graduate work, such as a MFA, is usually required. You’ll need a thorough understanding of construction, building codes and federal guidelines.
Aside from design, a successful applicant will also have a strong background in public relations. After all, an airport can be a great way to showcase all of the terrific features found in the city. Even if someone is just at the airport for a layover you’ll still want them to have a positive impression.
This job can be fun and interesting. As part of your duties, you’ll likely travel to airports all over the world for research. If you enjoy environmental design and creating pleasant experiences for the public, a career as a Lead Designer for the airport is worth consideration.
Procurement Support Services
There is a constant need for a variety of equipment both in the terminal and on the airfield. In order to streamline operations, cut costs and maintain safety, usually one department is in charge of obtaining all needed items and services.
A Procurement Specialist handles ordering, payment and distribution of all incoming products and services. The Specialist’s goal is to find the best value for all supplies ordered while also maintaining strict quality control.
Duties include maintaining relationships with existing vendors as well finding new vendors when necessary. You’ll also be in charge of the logistics related to delivery of various products. You’ll need to review internal requisition requests, create orders and manage the approval process. Ideal candidates will be familiar with everything from mechanical parts to items used in a retail store.
Ideal candidates will have a bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a related field such as engineering, manufacturing or business. Each airport acquires goods and services differently, so you can expect a lot of on-the-job training. This is a rather unique position which can be a very fulfilling career for the right person.
Female Security Officers
The security force at a typical airport is probably more diverse than you may think. There are a variety of career paths for female security officers. Some of these jobs might not be what you expect.
There are plenty of traditional security roles even for someone who isn’t physically imposing or interested in confrontational work. Duties like this include the monitoring of x-ray machines, metal detectors, security cameras and more.
Both men and women with great communications skills can thrive in the field of security dispatch. The multiple security forces within an airport depend on inter-connected communication. A dispatcher will need to know who works where in the airport and what duties they perform.
Female security officers typically have the same requirements as men. All qualified applicants need a high school degree or more. Applicants will also need to pass a background check, drug test, physical exam and security certification. Depending on the nature of the position, you might need to stand or walk for shifts of eight hours and more.
Salaries average around $32,000. There are both full-time and part-time positions. Many full-time positions include health benefits.
Security work is sometimes thought of as a male-dominated field. But female security agents fill a variety of important roles both in front of the public and behind the scenes. If you want to really make a positive difference in public safety, consider the field of airport security.
Airports are some of the largest buildings in the world. From initial construction through daily maintenance, there is always a need for a Duty Engineer.
Airport engineers perform many duties. During initial construction they analyze surveys, maps and other data. They also test the soil to determine if the underlying foundation is strong enough to support a building, runway, etc.
Airport engineers need a degree from a four year bachelor’s program in either civil, structural or mechanical engineering. They also need to be proficient with CAD and other advanced design tools.
In order to work at most major airports, engineers will need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam upon graduation. After some work experience, the engineer will also have to pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
Salaries are on the high end. The average airport civil engineer earns about $85,000 annually. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career has been experiencing a lot of recent growth. If you’re a qualified engineer, an airport can be a great place to develop a long, satisfying career.
Retail Operations Account Manager
Retail stores inside airports are a thriving industry. While there will always be a demand for basic travel items such as bottles of water and magazines, travelers are also increasingly demanding a diverse array of shops. Today’s airport visitor enjoys fine dining, unique souvenirs, massages and other non-traditional products and services.
Managing a retail store within an airport presents many unique challenges. Your customers will be from all over the world. There might occasionally be language or cultural barriers. You and your employees will need to be patient and professional at all times.
There is also an extra hurdle with inventory. All items, including stock, which come into an airport need to undergo more security screening than you’d find elsewhere.
Successful applicants will need both retail experience and a background in airport operations. Retail experience includes the ability to supervise employees, manage inventory and provide excellent customer service. Airport operations experience includes a thorough understanding of the specific policies and procedures related to security and logistics.
Requirements include a background in airport retail operations. Sometimes suitable candidates will have extensive retail experience outside of an airport setting. While this isn’t ideal, if the retail experience is strong sometimes the candidate will be selected and then trained in the airport-specific details.
The annual salary varies depending on your experience and the type of retail store. A general salary range is between $30,000 and $50,000. If you have retail experience, managing a retail store within an airport can be an exciting, rewarding career.
Delivery Engineer – Civil and Structural
An airport is never “finished.” This means that most major airports are almost always either currently constructing improvements or else developing plans to do so in the future. Civil and Structural Engineers are almost always needed in some capacity at most airports.
Engineers help develop improvements, redevelopments and expansions for projects around the airport. This includes the terminal, public parking, transportation systems, security systems and more.
A Civil and Structural engineer works with architects and contractors to develop plans, oversees construction and coordinate all activities with appropriate government authorities.
Applicants will need extensive education and experience in the field if Civil Engineering. Experience working on an airport is also highly desired by employers. Salary range will vary depending on the type of project but generally this is a high paying career with an annual wage of over $50,000. Hours and workload will also vary depending on the specific project requirements.
Maintenance Manager Engineering – Airfield
When the airfield has an issue, the entire airport is affected. In order to keep the airfield clear, safe and open around the clock, airports turn to an Airfield Maintenance Manager.
The Airfield Manager plans, directs and manages all activity on the airfield. They ensure all the runways, taxiways and airfield facilities are properly maintained. Other duties include coordinating with other divisions within the airport and also providing administrative support to the Director of Operations.
Requirements include at least four years of experience as a direct supervisor along with seven years of experience in professional maintenance either on an airfield or a similar environment. Applicants should also have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, business operations or similar.
Mechanical know-how is also required. Applicants must demonstrate a thorough understanding of maintenance procedures for airside surface areas, lighting systems and other airfield equipment.
This is a full-time position which requires some holiday work. The average salary for this position is between $60,000 and $72,000.
Asset Engineer – Civil and Structures
An airport is an exciting place to work if you’re a Civil or Structural Engineer. An airport must perfectly blend both form and function – and at one of the largest scales possible. Whether the airport is building new assets or refurbishing existing ones, there are usually plenty of opportunities for an asset engineer.
You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in Engineering to be considered for this job, although post-graduate work is often preferred. Additionally, you’ll likely need previous experience working in an airport setting.
Great communication skills are also necessary. As an engineer, you’ll work with a variety of different people including local governments, airport management, construction professionals, architects, contractors and more.
Requirements include a bachelor’s degree or higher in civil, structural or other relevant engineering. This includes knowledge of materials, CAD and more. Additionally, engineers will have to pass both the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam.
Salaries depend on the type of project you’re working on, but generally civil engineers are well paid. The average salary is around $85,000. Work hours will depend on the type of project and construction hours. Certain projects will require nights, weekend and other non-traditional hours.
Systems Specialist Biomass/Generation
The Generation infrastructure system is a vital component of many major airports. This complex control and building management system monitors and operates water treatment, pressure systems safety regulations for heating systems and other vital systems.
The systems include high, medium and low temperature hot water distribution, chilling stations, cooling towers, heat recover, chilled water, Biomass and gas fired boilers.
As a Systems Specialist, you’ll be in charge of maintaining the entire system. Each process must be maintained to the appropriate level. You’ll also be in charge of troubleshooting and emergency maintenance.
Each day, you’ll need to provide reliable facility service to travelers, tenants, employees and everyone else on the airport ground.
Familiarity of the systems is a key requirement here. You’ll need to understand how to maintain and run the Biomass/Generation Systems. Most candidates also have a relevant bachelor’s degree.
This is a highly specialized position. If you enjoy maintaining complicated system in large buildings, work doesn’t get much better than this. Salary varies depending on experience and airport size. You’ll likely work as part of a team, but there will usually be a certain “on call” requirement.
Terminal Performance Manager
The terminal is where the passengers, airlines and retail stores all converge. At the heart of each terminal is the Terminal Performance Manager. He or she is responsible for the operation of the entire terminal.
This includes conducting regular inspections of every aspect of the terminal. You’ll act as a liaison between the airlines and all third party operatives. You’ll also supervise and work with airport employees, security and others.
Another large part of this job involves customer service. Above all else, you’ll need to make sure the public is safe in your terminal. After safety, you’ll also need to focus on traveler comfort and happiness.
The ideal candidate will have excellent communication skills. Whenever a problem arises in your terminal, you’ll need to contact the appropriate people and coordinate a response. This means you’ll also need to understand the airport systems inside and out.
Qualified candidates need two to three years of experience inside a terminal. A college degree is often preferred, especially one in a related field such as Communications, Public Relations, Management, Human Resources or similar.
The average salary for a Terminal Performance Manager with a few years of experience is about $62,000.
Want a job where you’re always moving? An Airside Loader might just be the career you’re looking for. This is a physically demanding job unlike any other. But for the right applicant, this job can be both fun and rewarding.
The Airside Loader works in the terminal below the wings of the aircraft. He or she loads and unloads each plane’s cargo. This is more than simply putting luggage on a conveyor belt (although there’s certainly a lot of that, too).
The Airside Loader needs to carefully manage the cargo for safety, security and efficiency. You’ll need to work quickly. Good communication and the ability to work well with a team are vital for success.
As an Airside Loader, you’ll work outside in all types of conditions. This is a physically demanding job where you will regularly handle items of various weights and sizes. You’ll typically work an eight hour shift where the opportunities for breaks are limited. As a new employee, you might have to work holidays at times.
Applicants will need to be cleared to work in secure areas. This includes a five year background check. You’ll also need to pass a drug test and a medical exam. Generally, starting salaries are between $9 and $15 an hour.
There is plenty of opportunity for advancement. Airside Loader Managers are usually promoted from within the organization. As long as you have a high school diploma or equivalency, you can advance quite far within the ground operations based on experience.
If you’re fit, active and looking to start an airport career, this position is often a great entry point.
Ramp Agent / Baggage Handler
An airport isn’t just designed to move people; there’s a lot of baggage which needs to be handled, too. The ramp agent, also known as a baggage handler, is responsible for loading and unloading all baggage throughout the airport.
This includes luggage, air mail, air express, air cargo shipments and more. The baggage handler operates a variety of handling equipment including baggage tugs, conveyers, fork lifts and more. The job also requires the use of vehicles such as trucks, vans and baggage carts.
Baggage Handlers are active and moving throughout their workday. They need to lift baggage, mail sacks and other items – and these items can weight quite a bit! The typical workday of a baggage handler is usually quite a workout. You’ll lift and move a lot of items quickly.
A Ramp Agent is usually considered an entry-level job. A high school degree is required, but some post-secondary education is often preferred. Once hired, you’ll then undergo training to learn about airline codes and flight destinations.
Works schedule vary. You’ll likely have to work days, evenings, nights and weekends. A typical shift will last between eight and 12 hours with four days on and three off. Wages usually start at around $9 an hour and improve with experience.
While the work isn’t always easy, each day will be busy and exciting. If you like working outdoors in a fast-paced, active environment, this is the career for you.
At the airport, every minute counts. Thousands of flights from all over the world must land and takeoff around the clock. The Flight Dispatcher (also known as an Aviation Scheduler) is the person who is responsible for creating this schedule of arrivals and departures.
The dispatcher is equal to the pilot in terms of overall flight safety. Together, they both create a flight plan. The goals are safety, speed and low operating cost.
This is an important job which requires a diverse body of knowledge. The Dispatcher needs a thorough understanding of weather. He or she will need to know the weather forecast for every part of each flight’s journey.
Additionally, the dispatcher needs to understand fuel requirements, alternate flight paths, general traffic flow and other logistical information. A comprehensive knowledge of aircraft is also required.
Depending on your experience level and the size of the airport you work at, you can make anywhere between about $37,000 to $90,000. The average wage is $49,000.
Head of Aerodrome Operations
The aerodrome is the headquarters for flight control. This is the location – usually a tower -- where all aircraft operations take place. Aerodromes are located at all large commercial airports but you can also find them at general aviation airfield, military airbases and any other landing fields. The aircraft involved might be carrying passengers, cargo or something else entirely.
The Head of Aerodrome Operations is the person ultimately in charge of all operations conducted from within the aerodrome. This includes all issues related to takeoff and landing of all the aircraft on the runways and taxiways. This also includes all ground traffic including baggage vehicles, delivery vehicles and even emergency vehicles. In the event of an emergency, the Head of Aerodrome Operations is responsible for coordinating emergency response and providing a “bird’s eye view” of the event.
Requirements include extensive training in the FAA’s Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative. This is where qualified applicants can earn both a two year and a four year degree in air traffic control. Graduates will understand weather, federal regulations, maps and other important air traffic info.
All this training eventually pays offer – literally. The average salary is $122,000 and the top percentile of Operators earn up to $177,000. Of course, these employees have seniority and experience. A graduate fresh out of AT-CTI will earn an average of $37,000 as a starting salary.
The runway is arguably the busiest and most dangerous location in the airport. The Approach Controller is responsible for ensuring the safety of all the aircraft as they both land and takeoff. This is a high pressure job involving a large amount of responsibility.
The Approach Controller issues takeoff and landing instructions to the pilot. Beyond aircraft, they also monitor all vehicles on runways and taxiways. This includes baggage vehicles. In the event of an emergency, the Approach Controller is responsible for alerting response staff.
Requirements are designed to ensure physical and mental competence for the job. Applicants must pass a physical exam, a criminal background check and a drug check. Applicants must also pass the FAA’s pre-employment test.
If the applicant achieves a qualifying score he or she must then enroll into the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative, also known as the AT-CTI. This is a school which offers two and four year degrees in air traffic control. Subjects studied include weather, maps, federal regulations and other relevant information.
After you complete the courses, you’ll then take the AT-SAT. This is a competency exam. If you pass the exam, you are then allowed to accept any job offers. But you’re not ready just yet! To complete your training, you’ll need to enroll in an intensive training course at the FAA Academy.
Becoming an Approach Controller requires a lot of instruction. You’ll have to work your way into the job. But the financial rewards are great. This is one of the highest paying jobs in the industry with a starting salary of $37,000 and a medium annual salary of over $122,000. The top ten percent in this category earn an average of $170,000.
Shifts typically rotate between day, night and evening. Most members belong to a union.
This is a demanding job where lots of lives and equipment are on the line. If you’re looking for a fast-paced airport job with a lot of responsibility, an Approach Controller is worth your consideration.
Do you want a job with lots of responsibility and non-stop action? The position of Aerodrome Controller is one of the most unique positions in the airport.
As an Aerodrome Controller, you’re ultimately in charge of all traffic. Every day, you’ll help coordinate all inbound and outbound aircraft. This means making sure the planes land and depart on time while also emphasizing the safety of all passengers and employees. You’ll also be responsible for all ground traffic.
At busy airports, the duties of an Aerodrome Controller are sometimes split into two: One controller supervises the air crew while another controller supervises the ground. These two sections are often referred to as Air Control and Ground Movement Control.
A single mistake by an Aerodrome Controller can result in a disaster and even loss of life. For that reason, requirements are very strict. Each applicant must undergo rigorous mental and physical exams.
Physical conditions such as diabetes and heart conditions result in disqualification. Mental conditions such as depression and ADHD are also not allowed in this position. Applicants must pass initial screenings in order to be hired. Once hired, applicants will be subjected to additional testing on a regular basis.
Most Aerodrome Controllers start their careers in their twenties and retire in their fifties. This is because FAA requirements state that all controller training must be completed by the age of 31 and there’s a mandatory retirement age of 56.
Ideal candidates will have an incredible eye for detail, great communication skills and an ability to handle a lot of pressure. You’ll need to have a deep understanding of the various computer systems involved and the specific lingo used in the industry (after all, you need to avoid misunderstandings on the radio).
This is a well-compensated positions. The average salary is $122,000 and includes benefits. Not everyone wants (or is qualified for) this high stress position. But for someone with the right personality and skillset, this is a wonderfully unique career.
As you can see, there is a huge variety of jobs available at practically any airport. You can work in the air, the ground, the terminal and more. There are plenty of jobs where you’ll spend your days in a comfortable office. There are also plenty of jobs which offer a lot of outdoor excitement. Every single position in the airport is important. The salary and benefits are usually pretty great, too. No matter your education or skill level, the airport is a great place to start a career!