Air Transportation

If you work well under pressure and dream of a career where you can travel all around the world, a job in air transportation may be a good fit for you. Read on to learn more about this field, including employment opportunities and educational program options.

Is Air Transportation for Me?

Career Overview

A career in air transportation can take many forms. For example, 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.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), minimal to no change in employment nationwide was expected for air traffic controllers, aircraft pilots and aircraft mechanics from 2012-2022. A 7% decline in job openings was projected for flight attendants during the same 10-year period. As of May 2013, air traffic controllers and aircraft pilots earned average annual salaries of $118,650 and $129,600, respectively. The average annual wage for aircraft mechanics was $57,610, while flight attendants earned an average of $43,860 per year (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Air Transportation?

Education and Training Requirements

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 licensing requirements include completion of 250 hours of flying experience and a satisfactory score on a written test that covers FAA regulations, navigation techniques and safety principles. To be a pilot, you must also 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, power plant systems, aircraft flight control and engine systems. Flight attendants don't always need a degree, but completing a postsecondary 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, another 2-4 years of on-the-job training will also be required before you can become an FAA-certified air traffic controller.

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