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What Is Airfield Management?

Airfield managers oversee the day-to-day operations of an airport. In this position, you'll inspect runways, direct repairs, and monitor air traffic. This position is usually held by members of the military. Learn more about airfield managers, as well as the related civilian job of airport manager.

Job Description

Airfield managers are generally enlisted men and women who work for the military. If you pursue a job in this field, you'll be responsible for keeping runways safe for incoming and outgoing traffic. You'll perform regular inspections and work with the maintenance staff to make any necessary repairs. During the winter, you'll use special equipment to determine runway conditions under the snow and ice. You'll also make sure that the runway area is clear of hazardous obstacles such as birds or debris. You must also know flight plans so that you can communicate any dangerous landing conditions or delays to the flight controllers and the incoming pilots. You may even close or open runways due to weather conditions.

Airport managers are civilians who perform the same duties as airfield managers, but for a private or municipal airport. They also handle the business side of an airport. As an airport manager, you may be in charge of leasing gate space or hangars, writing budgets, and coordinating construction work. You'll also be responsible for making sure both tenants and employees comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules, zoning laws, and any other applicable regulations.

Important Facts About Airfield Management

Median Salary (2018) $52,200 (for all airfield operations specialists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 9% growth (for all airfield operations specialists)
Work Environment Typically full-time shifts with rotating hours, weekends and holidays are also common
Similar Occupations Air Traffic Controller, Aircraft/Avionics Equipment Mechanic or Technician, Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatcher

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Opportunities

Military

Naturally, the Air Force employs many airfield managers. The Air Force has over 75 bases worldwide, not including reserve bases, air stations, or joint bases. Since about one-third of these bases lie outside the U.S., you may be able to serve in countries such as Portugal, Turkey, or Japan. Other branches of the military with flight groups may also employ you.

Civilian

All airports, large and small, hire airport managers. Many cities and counties have their own municipal airports; larger cities might have more than one. You may also work for a private airport.

Training and Education

Military

The military provides all necessary training to aspiring airfield managers. For example, if you're enlisted in the Air National Guard, this includes an airfield management apprenticeship and an airfield management craftsman course. Trainees with a high school diploma are preferred.

If you're enlisted in the Air Force, you'll complete a training program at the Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi and earn a degree in aviation management. You will need a high school diploma or GED and about 15 college credits to qualify for this training.

Civilian

To become an airport manager, you usually need a bachelor's degree in business administration, airport management, aeronautical engineering, or civil engineering. You'll also need two to six years of experience in airport management or a related field like public administration. Many airports require that you have a private pilot's license as well.

Some business administration programs are available with an airport management concentration. In addition to completing accounting, economics, and marketing coursework, you can learn aviation laws and safety procedures. You may also explore the causes and effects of weather as you monitor and predict it. A few of these programs incorporate a private pilot ground and flight school into the curriculum. These courses can teach you flight planning and navigation as well as the principles behind flying. You also explore aerodynamics and electronic navigation systems.