Do you dream of a career where you can travel all around the world? Are you a confident person who works well under pressure? If so, you may be suited for a career in air transportation. Read on to learn more about this field, including employment opportunities and educational program options.
A career in air transportation can take many forms. Airplane pilots are employed by airlines and the military to transport people and goods. Flight instructors train pilots. Flight crew and aeronautic technicians provide support and keep planes running and in good repair. Airway management and air traffic control personnel direct traffic in the sky to keep the daily operation of air travel going smoothly.
If you're interested in working in air transportation, you could have competition for many positions in the industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for aircraft pilots, mechanics, flight attendants and air traffic controllers was expected to grow about as fast as average from 2008 to 2018, but competition was predicted to be strong because the overall industry has more applicants than available positions (www.bls.gov). Wages vary based on position. The BLS reported average annual wages in May 2010 as $110,280 for air traffic controllers, $115,300 for aircraft pilots, $53,280 for aircraft mechanics and $41,630 for flight attendants.
Training for jobs in air transportation varies by job title. Pilots, for example, typically have a 2-year or 4-year degree and earn a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot's license. FAA license requirements include completing 250 hours of flying experience and taking a written test that covers FAA regulations, navigation techniques and safety principles. To be a pilot, you must be in good physical health and have 20/20 vision.
Aircraft mechanics and technicians must complete an FAA-certified education and training program to qualify for a job. As a student in an aviation mechanics associate's degree program, you may take courses in aviation science, powerplant systems, aircraft flight control and engine systems.
Flight attendants don't always need a degree, but completing a degree program in communications, tourism or hospitality may be helpful. Experience working with the public or some training in the field may also be a plus.
Air traffic controllers must pass rigorous tests to qualify to complete training at the FAA Academy. After completing Academy training, you spend 2-4 years in on-the-job training before you can become an FAA-certified air traffic controller.