How Do I Become an Aviation Manager?

Explore the roadmap towards becoming an aviation manager. Learn about the education requirements, skills and process for launching a career in this field. Schools offering Driver Training degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Aviation managers are individuals who work in a management capacity for airlines, airports, private jet companies and other aviation organizations. This is not an entry-level position, but rather one that requires relevant work experience; five years is common. Some aviation managers have experience in other aviation-related positions, while others might have a general business background. The table below will give you a general overview of this career field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Aviation management, aviation operations, business, management, operations management, engineering, aerospace or related field
Key Skills Operations management, program management, employee oversight, regulatory compliance
Certification Optional
Job Growth (2016-2026) Average*
Median Salary (2019) $87,511**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Do I Need a Degree?

Many aviation managers have a bachelor's degree. If you do not yet have a degree, it may make sense for you to major in aviation management. However, employers are generally open to fields related to business, management or engineering for this career. Aviation management programs instruct students in both aviation-related topics and general business concepts. Topics might include airport design, aviation law, logistics management, finance, human resources and marketing.

What Certifications Are Available for Aviation Managers?

Beyond your bachelor's degree in an aviation-management-related competency, you could benefit from pursuing a certification that confirms your knowledge of industry-specific issues. The American Association of Airport Executives offers the Accredited Airport Executive Program. To earn the accreditation, you must pass a 180-question exam, be interviewed and complete one of the following options: a research paper, a case study, an essay exam or a graduate degree. The National Business Aviation Association offers the Certified Aviation Manager credential. To earn it, you must demonstrate your knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, common issues and potential solutions, business management, operations and other topics. Completing one of these certifications can signal a passion for the field, allow you to network with other professionals and certify your preparation with a solid foundation of aviation industry knowledge.

What Kinds of Jobs Should I Pursue After Graduation?

Setting yourself up for a career in aviation management means learning every aspect of airport and airline operations from the ground up. The best strategy would be to pick an entry-level position in an aviation-related field that allows you to build your business and management skills. Some of the entry-level positions available to recent graduates who wish to get started in the field of aviation management are: flight operator, crew scheduler, airline customer service, airline marketing professional and flight follower.

What Skills Should I Develop to Grow into a Position in Aviation Management?

The field of aviation management involves a lot of industry-specific knowledge. Effective aviation managers learn to combine their knowledge of laws, regulations and technical aspects of the industry with finely tuned leadership skills and an understanding of such concepts as organizational design and company culture as they progress from entry-level positions to management roles. Because aviation managers typically manage a staff, effective communication skills are also a must.

What Is the Most Common Salary for an Aviation Manager?

According to PayScale.com, the salary range for aviation managers in 2019 began at $48,793 and went up as high as $186,905, with a median salary of $87,511. Where you might fall within this range will depend on your education, certifications, years of experience, and employer type. Because aviation managers can work for government agencies, airports, or airlines, salary options vary greatly depending on the organization size and affiliation.

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