Aviation Operations and Management

Aviation operations and management professionals keep airplanes running and help people and cargo get to their destinations. Learn about career possibilities, salaries in the field, educational requirements and licensing.

Is Aviation Operations and Management Right For Me?

Career Overview

Airplanes and other avionics equipment utilize highly technical and advanced components that require trained professionals for operation, control, maintenance and management. Today's avionics employees must possess the knowledge and skills required to ensure avionics equipment runs safely, efficiently and on schedule. The aviation operations and management industry employs a unique group of individuals trained in a variety of areas, from aviation maintenance and mechanics to air traffic control and piloting.

If you want a career in aviation operations, you can choose from positions such as airfield operations specialist or airport manager. People in these occupations ensure that operations related to sales, maintenance and finance run efficiently. Airfield operations specialists supervise the ground crew and make sure that all required tasks and processes run smoothly. Airport managers handle administrative concerns, such as airport tenant negotiations and equipment management.

You can also pursue a career in avionics maintenance, control and flight. Avionics equipment mechanics ensure that the parts of airplanes and avionics communications equipment work properly. The work involves performing critical preventative maintenance, parts replacement and upkeep that ensures the safety of airline operations.

Pilots manage everything from pre-flight safety checks to the safe landing of a flight in a destination city. As a pilot, you would be responsible for ensuring that everyone on board a flight reaches a destination safely, even if that includes managing emergency landings. Pilots work with meteorologists and air traffic controllers, who decide when a plane takes off, to ensure the safest route.

Employment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), aircraft mechanics and service technicians earned median pay of $55,210 in 2012. Air traffic controllers and pilots earned higher salaries, with commercial and airline pilots reporting median earnings of $98,410 annually, and air traffic controllers earning median pay of $122,530 in 2012.

How Can I Work in Aviation Operations and Management?

Education

The field of aviation operations and management requires specialized skills that impact customer safety. As a result, the field is monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Many employers require applicants possess a college degree and all pilots are required to possess a flight license issued by the FAA. The military is a source for experienced pilots due to the amount of time and experienced gained through the frequent piloting of military aircraft.

If you have not been a member of the military, you can choose from approximately 600 FAA approved civilian flight schools, according to the BLS. You can also pursue a bachelor's degree program in aeronautical engineering.

In order to qualify for an air traffic controller opportunity, you must successfully pass the FAA pre-employment examination and meet the minimum flight experience requirements. If you lack flight experience, you must be 30 years of age or older at the time you begin the application process. If you do not have military experience, you must have at least three years related experience, a 4-year degree or a combination of both education and experience. You also have the option of enrolling in the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative.

Required Skills

Aviation operators and managers must be responsible. They also need to have strong communication and managerial skills, be technically adept, be great decision makers and be capable of working in a team environment.

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