Airline Sales Executive: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an airline sales executive. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average salary, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering International Tourism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Airline Sales Executive Do?

Airline sales executives oversee the sales aspects of an airline company. They analyze previous sales data and transportation industry trends in order to design sales strategies and set sales goals. From there, they direct members of sales team to implement strategies, which can include discounts, frequent flyer mile bonuses and advertising campaigns. In addition to overseeing the activities of sales team members, sales executives are also responsible for their hiring and training.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's; Master's recommended
Education Field of Study Business Administration
Key Responsibilities Meet financial goals, negotiate contracts, establish policies and procedures
Certification Optional certifications available from Institute of Certified Professional Management
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for all top executives*
Average Salary (2015) $185,850 for all chief executives*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is an Airline Sales Executive?

Airline sales executives tend to be involved with the overall business, rather than the hospitality, aspect of a private or public airline. Some of the activities you might perform, which are similar to those for top executives, include meeting financial goals, establishing policies and procedures, handling budgets and negotiating contracts. If you work in a chief financial officer capacity for an airline, you could be accountable for financial reports as well as handling investments.

What Training Might I Need?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that top executives tend to hold a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration or another relevant discipline. If you're interested in obtaining certification, which is voluntary, you may want to explore opportunities through the internationally recognized Institute of Certified Professional Management ( Other professional organizations that offer credentials related to this career, as well as conferences and accredited training opportunities, include the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) and International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE).

The AAAE's Accredited Airport Executive Program includes a training module on finance and administration. Some of the topics covered in this section include capital funding, financial report analysis, insurance issues, management principles, revenue source assessment and strategic planning.

How Much Can I Earn?

Your salary potential can vary based on a number of factors, such as the size of the airline, as well as whether it's public or private and offers national or international flights. While the BLS doesn't list salary data specific for airline sales executives, it does provide figures for comparable careers.

In May 2015, the BLS reported that the average salary for chief executives was approximately $185,850. The average salary for general and operations managers was around $119,460 in the same year. Between 2014 and 2024, top executive jobs were predicted to grow as fast as the average, by 6%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to get a job in the airline industry, you could also consider becoming an airline pilot. They operate scheduled flights for airline companies that transport passengers between destination airports. For this job, you usually need to have a bachelor's degree, as well as a pilot's license and an Airline Transport Certificate. Alternatively, if you are looking for a management job in a travel-related field, you could consider becoming a lodging manager. Lodging managers oversee all operations within a hospitality establishment such as a hotel or motel, including staff activities, budget allocation and customer service. Lodging managers need to have at least a high school diploma.

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