Aviation Management Degrees: Bachelor, Associate & Online Training Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate or bachelor's degree in aviation management? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and aviation management degrees.
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Studying Aviation Management: Degrees at a Glance

Aviation management professionals administer airline operations, aircraft maintenance programs and aviation control technologies. The field offers multiple career options, including air traffic controller, aircraft inspector or air transportation manager. Associate's degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level administrative or technical positions, while bachelor's degree programs prepare graduates for entry-level management positions. Graduating from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified program may increase job prospects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 3% decline in national job opportunities for air traffic controllers during the 2010-2020 decade. However, O*Net Online predicted 10%-19% national job growth for aviation inspectors during that same period.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People interested in entry-level administrative or air traffic controller positions Individuals who want to pursue a career in transportation, aviation or maintenance management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Air cargo handling supervisor ($47,000)*
- Air traffic controller ($114,000)*
- Aviation inspector ($62,000)*
- Transportation manager ($81,000)*
- Aviation manager ($169,000)**
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Roughly 60 credits Roughly 120 credits
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability None found as of September 2012 None found as of September 2012

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (September 2012 figures).

Associate's Degree in Aviation Management

Associate's degree programs in aviation management provide an education in aircraft performance, airline business procedures and the legal issues affecting the industry. In these programs, you learn a mixture of technical, aircraft operations management and business principles. If you plan to pursue an air traffic controller position, you must complete an FAA Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program and pass a pre-employment examination. As of September 2012, 36 schools offered AT-CTI programs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Industry positions offer competitive median annual salaries: in May 2011, air traffic controllers earned about $114,000*
  • Only 2-4 years of on-the-job training is required to obtain full air traffic controller certification
  • Many associate degree program credits transfer to a bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • Air traffic controller positions will decline 3% over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Failing the pre-employment test twice might make you ineligible for air traffic controller positions
  • Inexperienced individuals must be younger than 31 to work as air traffic controller

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

Courses and Requirements

Depending on your chosen major, associate's degree programs may provide training in technical and administration topics. Generally, FAA-certified programs offer curriculum focusing on the skills and education necessary to work as an air traffic controller or administrator. However, other programs cover air management and operations as well as meteorological studies. Common courses in either of these types of programs include:

  • Federal aviation regulations
  • Air cargo operations
  • Aviation weather
  • Aviation marketing
  • Environmental geology
  • Air navigation
  • Aviation security

Online Degree Info

As of September 2012, the FAA did not certify aviation management programs delivered through distance-education methods. The hands-on nature of the program and strict FAA requirements might make finding a suitable online program difficult. Attending an in-person program may provide you with the training required to work for the FAA after graduation.

Stand Out with This Degree

Having hands-on experience working in the field can help you stand out against your competition. Completing internships provides you with an overview of how the industry operates, which is knowledge that employers may prefer in candidates.

Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Management

There are many different types of bachelor's degree programs that are designed to prepare you to work in aviation management. For example, programs are available in flight management, aviation administration, transportation administration or maintenance management. Some programs prepare students for several FAA ratings, including the Commercial Pilot Certificate, or Airframe and Powerplant licenses.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Aviation managers earned competitive median annual salaries of $169,000 in May 2011*
  • Programs offer a gateway into studying aviation law or business at the graduate level
  • Program graduates are prepared to pursue careers in transportation, management or air commerce

Cons

  • Careers that only require an associate's degree may earn have higher median annual salaries; for example, in 2011, air traffic controllers earned an average of about $114,000 annually* while aviation inspectors earned an average of about $62,000 per year**
  • The limited number of AT-CTI programs might necessitate relocation; some states only host one AT-CTI institution
  • Programs cannot be completed online

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **O*Net Online.

Courses and Requirements

Many schools offering bachelor's degree programs distribute a larger-than-average number of credits, approximately 80, across professional and elective coursework. Most programs also have small class sizes, less than 15 students in some cases.

The curriculum of these programs provide you with access to modern aviation technologies and equipment. In these programs, you take classes in visual aircraft recognition, accident investigation, labor relations, control systems, aircraft maintenance, supervisory management and aircraft systems. In addition, you spend time using laboratory environment that delivers hands-on learning in instrumentation and piloting.

Online Degree Info

As of September 2012, online bachelor's degree programs certified by the FAA were not available. Despite this, some schools collaborate with aviation-centered colleges to provide hybrid programs. This type of program might require that you complete a set number of core and leadership courses online and continue your education in person at the aviation-centered institution.

Stand Out with This Degree

Enrolling in the FAA Academy might help you stand out against your competition. This Academy provides managerial training and includes courses in topics like aerospace medicine, facilitation tools and managerial workforce planning. Completing this program might impress employers.

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