Becoming an Aviation Manager: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about an aviation manager's job duties, education and salary. Read about the pros and cons of this career to see if becoming an aviation manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being an Aviation Manager

An aviation manager plans flight schedules, oversees aircraft maintenance and manages staff. Consider the pros and cons of this position to determine if becoming an aviation manager is right for you.

Pros of Being an Aviation Manager
High school diploma (or the equivalent) may be sufficient*
Ability to recommend plans and changes in budgets or legislation**
High salary potential (median of $159,450 in August 2015)***
Ability to write and think up of materials for aviation safety that can help others**

Cons of Being an Aviation Manager
Slower than average employment growth*
May need several years of experience for the management position**
Travel may be necessary**
May work in a noisy environment*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Michigan.gov, ***Salary.com.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Aviation managers are responsible for maintaining aircraft maintenance records, keeping current with inspection schedules and ensuring compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. They also manage the maintenance staff and other aircraft employees, provide schedules and administer business operations. Aviation managers need to keep current on policies, standards, procedures and laws regulating aviation.

These managers are also responsible for day-to-day operations. In this position, you would also help maintenance, repair and piloting crew prepare for flights as efficiently as possible. Aviation managers can prepare financial and accident reports. You may also work with emergency responders, in order to monitor weather and anticipate problems in aviation operations.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to Salary.com, aviation managers made a median annual salary of about $159,000 for August 2015. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that all airfield operation specialists, including those who worked in management positions, would see an employment growth of approximately 5% from 2012-2022.

Requirements for the Job

Employers' requirements for the jobs may differ based on the responsibilities and job duties. Most workers have a high school diploma or the equivalent, though you may also benefit from obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree. Some aviation manager positions may require a pilot license and completion of flying time. Prior related work experience is expected for management level positions.

Useful Skills

In order to succeed as an aviation manager, you need to have these following qualities:

  • Leadership abilities
  • Organized
  • Able to work with a team
  • Good communication skills (both written and oral)
  • Good analytical skills
  • Willing to keep up with aviation standards and FAA codes

Job Postings from Real Employers

Job postings usually list requirements like a high school diploma and years of experience. They also list job duties and expected skills for applicants. The following are just a sample of job postings from April 2012:

  • A company in Virginia asked for an aviation field operations manager. The manager's job duties included adhering to FAA and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) standards, making sure that airplanes are stocked with products and ensuring the safety of workers and passengers. Applicants needed to have a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and at least three years of experience. The workers also needed to have Ground Services Coordinator and Dangerous Goods certifications.
  • A recruiting company sought an aviation site manager for various locations. The manager would work with project officers, government quality assurance representatives and other ground crew in order to repair aircraft and aviation equipment. Applicants must have a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and five years of experience.
  • An airport in Illinois needed an operations manager who could organize daily operations, as well as work with various maintenance workers and contractors. Applicants should be able to work on call hours and have good project management abilities.
  • A travel corporation in Nevada asked for a dispatch and airport transportation supervisor. The supervisor needed a high school diploma (or the equivalent), experience with computer programs and prior work experience.

How to Stand Out

Because communications skills are very important in being a successful manager, you might benefit from taking courses in speech or composition. Also, you may learn some leadership skills from management or supervisory classes. O*Net Online reported that 22% of airfield operations specialists had a bachelor's degree or some college. You might consider studying through a program like the Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management. You could also pursue a professional credential, such as the Aviation Management Professional (AvMP) designation from the International Air Transport Association.

Alternative Careers

Air Traffic Controllers

Air traffic controllers help pilots and airplanes arrive and depart safely. They keep up-to-date with weather, and they use radar equipment to track various aircraft. You can become an air traffic controller by either having prior experience in the military or receiving a degree from an FAA-approved school.

Unfortunately, the BLS projected that air traffic controllers would see an employment decline by 3% between 2010 and 2020. However, these workers have relatively high wages, which the BLS noted was a median annual wage of about $114,000 in May 2011.

Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

Aircraft mechanics and service technicians discover and repair mechanical issues. They read manuals, replace parts and record incidents of repair. These workers must receive training in schools approved by the FAA, and they usually must be certified as well.

According to the BLS, these workers have the expected employment growth of about 6% for the decade 2010-2020. This slow employment growth may be because aircraft maintenance is becoming outsourced. In May 2011, these mechanics and technicians had the median annual salary of about $55,000.

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