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.
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!
- Flight instructor.
- Terminal manager.
- Aerospace technician.
- Aircraft mechanic.
- Test engineer.
- Airport executive.
- Aeronautical engineer.
- Front Office Executive.
- Reservation Executive.
- Interpersonal skills.
- Flight Supervisor.
- Passenger Service Executive.
- Ticketing Executive.
- Air ticketing.
- Airline Pilot.
- Cargo Pilot.
- Charter/Air Taxi Pilot.
- Corporate or Business Aviation Pilot.
- Flight Instructor.
- Agricultural Pilot.
- Medical/Air Ambulance Pilot.
Airlines have hired more pilots this year than in any year since 1990, and amid rocky negotiations between management and pilot unions, but it's not keeping up with demand, especially after all of the Covid early retirements, and the need for more pilots is expected to grow in the years ahead to as many as 18,000 new ...What are the high paid jobs in airport? ›
The highest-paying aviation jobs in India are Commercial Pilot, Flight Attendant (Air Hostess), Air Traffic Controller, Airport Manager, and Aerospace Engineer. Such Aviation jobs have certain requirements like 2000+ hours of flying experience, training certificates, and perfect vision.What jobs can pilots do other than flying? ›
- Aircraft Ferrying. A job for the adventurous! ...
- Aerial Firefighter. Live your dream and save lives in the process. ...
- Sightseeing and Tours. A leisurely flight for a leisurely career. ...
- Ambulance & Rescue. ...
- Business Pilot. ...
- Freight Pilot. ...
- CFI - Flight Instructor. ...
- Science and Research.
- Tour guide.
- Flight attendant.
- Event coordinator.
- Cruise ship chef.
- Train conductor.
- Flight attendant.
- English teacher abroad.
- Truck driver.
- Travel technician.
- Travel nurse.
These highly-rated companies include Delta Air Lines with an employee rating of 4.3 out of 5, Southwest Airlines rated 4.2 out of 5, United Airlines with a rating of 4.1 out of 5, UPS with a 3.5 out of 5, and Envoy Air rated 3.1 out of 5 by employees, and more.What stops someone from being a pilot? ›
Unfortunately, some medical or health issues may cause you to fail the extensive medical examinations required to become a pilot. This includes certain heart diseases, conditions such as epilepsy, poor hearing, bad vision, and even common allergies, as certain allergy medications can make you drowsy.
Regulatory: the Civil Aviation Authority may have roles for retired pilots in the auditing and regulatory areas. Technical Writing: if you are passionate about writing, perhaps there can be opportunities within airlines for technical writing of Standard Operating Procedures and airline manuals.How long do pilots need to rest? ›
|(1) Minimum Rest Immediately Before Duty||10 Hours|
|(2) Duty Period||Up to 14 Hours|
|(3) Flight Time For 1 Pilot||Up to 8 Hours|
|(4) Flight Time For 2 Pilots||Up to 10 Hours|
By the time they are ready to retire, around 2060, pilot jobs as we currently know them will “start to become obsolete,” according to Richard de Crespigny.Are pilots being replaced? ›
While some non-pilot crew members have been replaced by AI, human pilots still maintain their skills in the cockpit, monitoring the systems. With advanced AI technology, hands-on piloting by human pilots might be reduced.Is there a decline in pilots? ›
After Covid-19, Aviation Faces A Pilot Shortage. For the past few years, securing a pipeline of new pilots has been a primary concern for airlines around the world. In a 2019 Oliver Wyman poll of flight operations leaders, 62 percent listed a shortage of qualified pilots as a key risk.What is the highest paying TSA job? ›
|Job Title||Annual Salary||Weekly Pay|
The best Aviation jobs can pay up to $225,500 per year.
The type of career you should pursue depends on what you want to do and the qualifications you have. For example, if you want to be a flight attendant, you might need prior experience in the service industry.
- The UK. Being home to the Royal Air Force, the United Kingdom has a rich history in the field of aviation. ...
- The Philippines. ...
- Greece. ...
- The US. ...
- COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT. A commercial airline pilot is an exciting job. ...
- CARGO PILOT. ...
- AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY & GOVERNMENT AIR SERVICE. ...
- AGRICULTURAL AND CROP DUSTER PILOT. ...
- EMERGENCY AND RESCUE PILOT. ...
- CORPORATE PILOT. ...
- CHARTER AND PRIVATE PILOT.
- Cargo pilot.
- Flight instructor.
- Airline transport pilot.
- Agricultural pilot.
- Ambulatory pilot.
- Helicopter pilot.
- Government service pilot.
- Military pilot.
Airline pilots typically make the most, compared to other types of pilot specializations, such as rescue pilots, tourist pilots and others. There is a significant difference between the average earnings of pilots hired by regional airlines and those who work for national and international airlines.How do you get a job that pays you to travel? ›
- Telecommute to your current job. ...
- Explore your company's other locations. ...
- Teach English or another language. ...
- Become a tour guide. ...
- Write a research guide. ...
- Become a flight attendant. ...
- Start a side gig. ...
- Find a new remote opportunity.
- Sales Director. Average Annual Salary: $175,376. ...
- Airline Pilot. Average Annual Salary: $140,601. ...
- Cruise Ship Director. Average Annual Salary: $136,000. ...
- Creative Director. Average Annual Salary: $126,297. ...
- Travel Publicist. ...
- Hotel Manager. ...
- Luxury Travel Advisor. ...
- Foreign Affairs Analyst.
How to Get a Job as a Travel Agent With No Experience. An entry-level career as a travel agent does not require any specific background or education. However, some colleges, universities, and trade schools offer tourism certifications that can be helpful with training in marketing, hospitality, and event planning.Do ramp agents get free flights? ›
You do not have to be a flight attendant to get free flight benefits. There are many positions available within the airlines and all of the benefits are the same: free flight benefits. Positions such as: reservation agent, customer service agent, manager, supervisor, ramp agent, etc.Which airline pays ramp agents the most? ›
If you end up on the ramp, be prepared to work HARD. Working outside can be very unforgiving, at times. The luggage bins of the aircraft are small so being tall or large will work against you. You will be sore and hurting for a while until your body can adjust to the amount of physical labor you will be doing.Why do people not want to be pilots? ›
By far the most popular reason that people don't fly is lack of money. Flying is expensive, and many become overwhelmed with the idea of spending so much money, or just can't see how they'll pay for it all. But there are ways to fund flight training, including scholarships, loans and other various financing programs.Can I be a pilot with anxiety? ›
FAA policy on depression and other mental health conditions. To fly, pilots must have a medical certificate approved by an FAA aviation medical examiner (AME). Under the current guidelines, depression, anxiety, and similarly categorized psychological conditions don't lead to automatic disqualification.Is being a pilot unhealthy? ›
Flight crews can be exposed to over 100 times the radiation they would receive at sea level and are exposed to as much radiation as some nuclear power plant workers. Studies have shown that flight crews are several times more likely to contract certain cancers, such as breast cancer and melanoma.
Currently, federal rules prohibit air carriers certified under part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations from using the services of a pilot who is 60 years of age or older and prohibit pilots who are 60 years of age or older from flying part 121 aircraft operations. See 14 C.F.R. 121.383(c).What is the life expectancy of pilots there? ›
A difference in life expectancy of more than 5 years longer was found for our sample of retired airline pilots. Half of the pilots in this sample retiring at age 60 were expected to live past 83.8 years of age, compared to 77.4 years for the general population of 60 year-old white males in 1980.Do pilots fly for free after retirement? ›
Additionally, pilots and their family members enjoy free travel perks, which means that they have the opportunity to travel for pleasure as well as for business. Many commercial pilots, in fact, get free or reduced travel, even after retirement.
Even the FAA acknowledges that pilots may get only about four or five hours of sleep during that eight-hour period to prepare them for what can be as long as a 16-hour day of flying. Pilots say they're also required at times to fly a night shift for a day or two, then are switched over to a day schedule.How many hours can a plane fly without stopping? ›
This depends on the size of the plane, its efficiency, and how fast it's flying. A modern Boeing 747 can fly about 15,000 km (9,500 miles) when it's flying at 900 kmh (550 mph). This means it can fly non stop for almost 16 hours!How often do pilots get to stay home? ›
In terms of actual days, some publications say most short-haul pilots will either travel home every day if possible or work for five days and then spend three or four days at home. Long-haul pilots are said to spend more time away from home, although they do get 10 to 15 days off per month to see their families.Why are pilots quitting? ›
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all pilots to take their last flight by their 65th birthday, and they cannot fly again after that no matter their health or ability. Most pilots are retiring because of age: At least 5,773 retire each year because they hit the mandatory retirement age of 65.Will there be a need for pilots in 10 years? ›
Global Shortfalls. But North America will not be the only region to feel the pinch. Oliver Wyman expects a global pilot shortage to hit next year and grow to more than 79,000 pilots over the next decade. After North America, the next region to be affected will be the Middle East.How many pilots will retire in the next 10 years? ›
GEORGETOWN, Texas (Nexstar) — Within the next 10 years, experts said major airlines are expecting 75% of their pilots to retire.Why is there suddenly a shortage of pilots? ›
Over the last couple of years, the FAA has issued about 6,500 pilot licenses each year. But one government estimate projects a shortfall of 18,000-plus pilots each year for the next decade. The other reason for the current pilot shortage is the aircraft many of them are flying.
Trusted by more than 100 aviation regulatory agencies worldwide, the current Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook concludes that the aviation industry will need to supply more than 602,000 commercial airline pilots worldwide over the next 20 years2.
A study by the firm estimates the airline industry has about 8,000 fewer pilots than it needs—an 11% shortage. By 2032, however, it expects that shortage to balloon to nearly 80,000 people “absent a downturn in future demand and/or strenuous efforts by the industry to bolster the supply of pilots.”What health problems do pilots face? ›
- Cabin Air Quality.
- Circadian Rhythm Disruption (Jet Lag)
- Communicable Diseases.
- Cosmic Ionizing Radiation.
- Job Stress.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders.
- Noise/Hearing Loss.
In 2007, the retirement age for pilots in the United States was raised from 60 to 65 after medical reports concluded age had an 'insignificant impact' on performance in the cockpit and there were safety precautions already in place to prevent accidents in case of incapacitation.Do pilots ever get scared? ›
Pilots are trained to handle all sorts of nerve-racking situations, but that doesn't mean that they don't get scared—especially in these real instances, told by the pilots who experienced them, of serious in-flight fear.Who has highest salary in aviation industry? ›
- Thermodynamics Engineer. Salary range: $116,000-$225,500 per year. ...
- Avionics Engineer. Salary range: $92,000-$151,000 per year. ...
- Aeronautical Engineer. Salary range: $76,500-$149,500 per year. ...
- Air Traffic Controller. ...
- Aerospace Stress Engineer. ...
- Flight Test Engineer. ...
- Pilot. ...
- Airport Engineer.
Highest reported salary offered who knows Aviation is ₹50lakhs. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹36lakhs per year.What is the highest paying pilot job? ›
- Helicopter Pilot. Salary range: $51,500-$115,000 per year. ...
- Private Pilot. Salary range: $51,000-$100,000 per year. ...
- Corporate Pilot. Salary range: $55,000-$100,000 per year. ...
- Chief Pilot. Salary range: $64,000-$100,000 per year. ...
- Assistant Chief Pilot. ...
- Air Charter Pilot. ...
- Airline Pilot. ...
- Commercial Pilot.
Highest salary that a Pilot can earn is ₹85.0 Lakhs per year (₹7.1L per month). How does Pilot Salary in India change with experience? An Entry Level Pilot with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹17.3 Lakhs per year.Which country is best for aviation? ›
- The UK. Being home to the Royal Air Force, the United Kingdom has a rich history in the field of aviation. ...
- The Philippines. ...
- Greece. ...
- The US. ...
Average starting Salary for Aviation Officer in India is around ₹2.4 Lakhs per year (₹20.0k per month).Is working at the airport a good job? ›
Airport workers report high levels of job satisfaction. Working collaboratively and on varied duties helps airline workers to feel valued and rarely get bored in their role.How much do Fedex pilots make an hour? ›
|Starting: $84/hr||Starting: $276/hr|
|Average: $208/hr||Average: $313/hr|
|Top: $237/hr||Top: $335/hr|
Airline pilots typically make the most, compared to other types of pilot specializations, such as rescue pilots, tourist pilots and others. There is a significant difference between the average earnings of pilots hired by regional airlines and those who work for national and international airlines.Which type of pilot is best? ›
The airline transport pilot (ATP) is the most advanced pilot certificate one can obtain, and it's necessary for those who want to fly commercial airliners for a living. All commercial airlines now require a pilot applicant to have an ATP certificate.What career makes the most money? ›
Here are the highest paying jobs of 2022:
- Anesthesiologist: $208,000.
- Surgeon: $208,000.
- Obstetrician and Gynecologist: $208,000.
- Orthodontist: $208,000.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon: $208,000.
- Physician: $208,000.
- Psychiatrist: $208,000.
An individual must be 16 years old to solo an aircraft, 17 years old to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate, 18 years old to obtain a Commercial Pilot Certificate and 23 years old to obtain an Airline Transport Certificate. FAR Part 121 (major airline regulations) require all pilots to retire at the age of 65.How much do Amazon pilots make? ›
How much does a Prime Air Pilot make? As of Nov 17, 2022, the average annual pay for a Prime Air Pilot in the United States is $63,192 a year.What does a Delta pilot make? ›
Delta Pilot Salary
Pilot pay at Delta Air Lines ranges from $64,000 per year for a new first officer up to $257,000 per year for a senior captain.