What Can I Do with an Aviation Major?

Earning a bachelor's degree in aviation is often the first step toward a job in the air travel industry. Majoring in aviation will prepare you for a range of jobs whether you'd like to take to the skies or manage air travel from the ground. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Careers for Aviation Majors

While it's easy to assume that all aviation majors become pilots, that isn't necessarily the case. Upon earning an aviation degree, you could be eligible for several different careers in the air travel sector, and you potentially may be more attractive to employers. If your ultimate goal is to become a pilot, then an aviation degree will, of course, be of extreme benefit. As the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes, even though a degree is not always necessary to become a pilot, most pilots do hold one (www.bls.gov).

Important Facts About These Careers

Pilot Air Traffic Controller
Median Salary (2014) $103,390 (for airline and commercial pilots) $122,340
Key Skills Leadership, communication, and coordination skills Communication and concentration skills
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 5% growth (for airline and commercial pilots) 9% decline
Similar Occupations Delivery truck driver, machine operator, railroad worker Avionics mechanic, ambulance dispatcher

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pilot

As an aspiring pilot, you could choose to attend a flight school, but if you enter a degree program as an aviation major, you'll learn more than just how to fly. A bachelor's degree program in aviation frequently includes courses on economics, airport planning, aviation law, safety and more. Some degree programs don't offer flight instruction, however; in these cases, you will have to attend an outside program to acquire your pilot's license, although some schools will grant credit for flight school coursework.

Air Traffic Controller

According to the BLS, being an air traffic controller can be a stressful and potentially exhausting job. If you think you can handle the pressure, you might consider entering an aviation degree program that is affiliated with the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program. While you can still enter post-graduation FAA training without participating in the AT-CTI program, your participation in the program will allow you to bypass some of the FAA's requirements for air traffic control training.

Flight Instructor

Flight instructors must meet all requirements for becoming a commercial pilot, and then acquire a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) license. Some degree programs offer CFI training as part of their curriculum while some prepare students to attain their CFI license at an outside institution.

Airline Manager

If you'd like to enter the operations side of the air transportation industry, then you might consider majoring in aviation management. Besides learning basic principles of aeronautics, you would also take courses in business, economics, finance, statistics, accounting, human resources, aviation law and marketing. Upon earning your degree, you might find a position as an airline manager, airport administrator or industry analyst.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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