An introduction to working at an airport
Airport and passenger service jobs are visible and invisible to the un-initiated. But all airport staff work quickly to ensure everyone involved is ready for lift-off. If you’re a careful, industrious type who enjoys helping customers, this kind of work may be just what you’re looking for! From baggage handling to ramp agent work to ground services to customer services, there’s something for every one of us who want to work at an airport.
23 Sep 2014
What sort of person suits these kinds of work?
Regardless of whether you’re outside moving baggage or inside at the desk, there are certain qualities that will make you perfect for these roles. You’ll often be working under pressure with crucial documents or items that need your full attention, so you need to be a careful, professional, patient, methodical and calm sort of person that won’t lose their head when everything’s coming at them at once. Moreover, you’ll either be working in a tight-knit team and probably face-to-face with customers, so being friendly, helpful and reassuring with clear communication skills is also very important. Finally, airports are busy, complicated places so you need to be flexible but reliable, able to work quickly, and able to act on your own initiative as necessary.
What qualifications do I need to be an airport worker?
Required qualifications for this type of work are fairly simple. Often, you’ll need a few GCSEs at A-C (or equivalent) and, if you’ve got Geography in the mix, that will strengthen your case. Your literacy, numeracy and IT skills certainly need to be at a reasonable level as you will often use computer systems and fill out paperwork. If you want to work in the ground crew, then a driving licence and a decent level of physical fitness and ability are also mandatory. Beyond this, qualifications in customer service or travel and tourism will be helpful in applying for jobs. You may wish to go to college to prepare or, with any luck, your employer may train you. If so, there are a range of diplomas and certificates out there in Customer Service and Airport Operations.
Where will I work and who will I work for?
Airports across the country need people to work in ground crews and aviation customer support roles. The biggest airports - like Gatwick or Manchester - employ the largest number but smaller, more local airports need you too! You may work directly for the airport authorities, for the airlines, a recruitment agency or for service contractors that have a long-term relationship with airlines and airports.
How much money can I earn and how do I progress?
Money and progression are modest but viable in this line of work. In London, you can expect to earn around £17,500 to £22,000 (apprx $30K) per year, depending on seniority. Outside of London, salaries will be between £13,000 to £21,000 (apprx $34K). To get into the higher end of these brackets, you’ll need the experience and seniority to merit it.
As a baggage handler, you might move from Lead Ramp Hand up to supervisor and then manager; as a customer-facing worker, you also would move into supervisory and then managerial roles. Both areas offer training roles as well where, once you have thoroughly learnt the ropes, you can train the newbies to do their best too.
How do I apply for this work?
Visit our search page now to start looking for work. There, you can refine your search by location, type of work and more to find just the right aviation position for you. Best of luck!