Aviation Administration Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Are you looking for a career in aviation administration? Get real job descriptions and education requirements to see if a career as an aviation administrator is right for you.
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Careers in Aviation Administration

If you're interested in aviation administration, there are a few careers for you to consider in the field. Air traffic controller, avionics equipment technician and aerospace engineer are all professions for you to choose from. Here's a quick look at each of these job possibilities.

Air Traffic Controller Avionics Equipment Technician Aerospace Engineer
Career Overview Air traffic controllers monitor and direct air traffic in order to ensure safety. Avionics equipment technicians maintain and fix air vehicles likes planes and helicopters. Aerospace engineers design and test air vehicles including planes, jets, satellites, missiles and spacecraft.
Education Requirements At least an associate's or bachelor's degree At least a technical or undergraduate degree At least a bachelor's degree
Program Length 1-2 years for an associate's, 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree 1-2 years for an associate's or technical degree, 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree 3-5 years for a bachelor's, 1-2 more years for a master's degree
Certification and Licensing N/A Certification may be required Licensure may be required for certain positions
Work Experience Varies according to the job Varies according to the job Various years of experience often required for non-entry-level positions
Job Outlook (2014-2024) No change (-9%)* Little or no change (1% for all aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics)* No change (-2%)*
Mean Salary (2014) About $118,000* About $58,000 (for all aircraft mechanics and service mechanics)* About $107,000*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Air Traffic Controller

As an air traffic controller, your main concerns usually revolve around safety and efficiency. Whether in a commercial, private or military setting, your primary job duty will typically be to direct and manage the flow of air traffic. You'll advise pilots on weather and other conditions, give takeoff and landing instructions and authorize the changing flight paths as needed. There are three primary kinds of air traffic controllers: radar approach and departure controllers; tower controllers; and en route controllers. Radar approach and departure controllers maintain the airspace of airports, tower controllers direct runway traffic, and en route controllers deal with flight paths.

Requirements

If you have no previous experience with the U.S. Armed Forces or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in order to work as an air traffic controller you'll need to complete a two- or four-year air traffic management degree with the FAA Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI). You may also consider earning an associate's or bachelor's degree in aviation administration or a related field. The number of years of experience that you'll need depends largely on the position and the employer.

The following air traffic control jobs were listed online in January of 2013:

  • An air traffic controller was needed to work between Houston, Texas and Afghanistan. A license, undergraduate degree and 2-4 years of experience were required.
  • In Georgia, the U.S. military was hiring a terminal air traffic control specialist with knowledge of terminal Air Traffic Control (ATC) protocol and experience either in civilian or military air traffic.
  • A management and technology services company based in Virginia sought a full-time air traffic manager with a Control Tower Operator (CTO) Airmen Certificate and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Class II Medical Certificate.

Standing Out

There are ways that you can advance and get ahead as an air traffic controller. For example, consider completing an internship in the field. The FAA offers internships that you may consider applying for to gain experience and bolster your resume.

Avionics Equipment Technician

Avionics equipment technicians fix and perform regular maintenance on aircraft like helicopters and planes. Inspections that you'll perform are typically in accordance with the rules and regulations set by the FAA. Job duties for aircraft mechanics often include troubleshooting mechanical and electrical issues, testing diagnostic equipment, repairing aircraft parts and maintaining detailed records. As for avionics technicians, typical job duties are installing instrument panels, monitoring test data for flights and testing electronics.

Requirements

To become an avionics equipment technician, you'll usually be required to attend an official FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician school and earn a two-year or four-year degree in aviation maintenance management, aviation technology, avionics or a related discipline. It's also likely that you'll need to work for at least 30 months as a mechanic so that you can become a certified mechanic. The number of additional years of experience you'll need varies.

In January of 2013, employers listed the following jobs on the Internet:

  • A government field services company was seeking a structural aircraft mechanic with schooling from the military, an FAA license or equivalent education.
  • A high school diploma or a GED, an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic Certificate and 4-6 years of experience were required for a senior aircraft technician position in Savannah, GA.
  • The U.S. military was hiring avionics communications equipment repairers. The position required ten weeks of training, and applicants would need to be between 17 and 35 years of age.

Standing Out

Gaining an aircraft inspector's authorization can be a solid way to stand out as an avionics equipment technician. Due to the hands-on nature of the position, it can also be beneficial to make sure you stay in shape, which will help ensure that you can pass any required physical exams. If you're interested in advancing to a management position, becoming a Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) can be a strong way to give your resume a boost. You will need at least two years of experience to pursue the CAM credential.

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers work in various locations, such as internationally, in a number of settings. Often, you'll be in charge of coordinating and managing aerospace products and aircraft in various design and manufacturing stages. You'll look over proposals, manage quality control, inspect damaged equipment and make sure that projects are completed before their deadlines. While aeronautical engineers work exclusively on different kinds of aircraft, astronautical engineers work with spacecraft.

Requirements

For entry-level positions, you won't typically be required to obtain licensure as an aerospace engineer. However, you will need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in the field. Some colleges or universities offer five-year programs in which you'll complete both a bachelor's and master's degree. A few skills that many employers seek out in an aerospace engineer are math, writing, business and critical-thinking skills, along with the ability to cooperate with peers and colleagues.

Here are a few positions that employers posted on the Internet in January 2013:

  • In California, a national aeronautics and space organization was hiring an aerospace engineer with a bachelor's degree in math, engineering, physical, life, computer or another science-related field.
  • In Phoenix, AZ, a company was searching for an aerospace design engineer with either a bachelor's degree or ten years of related experience.
  • In Oklahoma, the U.S. military sought an aerospace engineer supervisor with a professional engineering bachelor's degree or a combination of experience and education.

Standing Out

In this field, employers tend to look for strong critical-thinking, analytical, teamwork, math and business skills, which you can develop through elective or required courses. In addition to this, staying on top of current technological trends and maintaining a high level of computer literacy can be helpful. Although not required for all positions, an engineering license may be necessary to advance in the field. This process includes becoming certified as an engineer-in-training and developing the education and skills necessary to sit for the Professional Engineering exam.

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