Careers in aviation
A great imagination can take you anywhere. When it comes to careers in
the field of aviation, the sky’s the limit! There are several fields in
aviation for both males and females who do not necessarily want to be
The best course of action for a future aviator is a college or
university degree that combines aviation management or flight operations
with another discipline. When I say “another discipline” it could even
be a liberal arts education which is about situational awareness. (This
is much needed in the cockpit of modern aircraft) This would certainly
be a unique combination.
How can you apply your unique talents and skills to this exciting
industry? How can you turn your love of aviation and all things related
to aviation into a marketable and profitable career? Aviation courses
range from professional pilot training to aircraft engineers, aircraft
maintenance mechanics (including airframe and power-plant), air traffic
controllers, flight dispatchers and airport managers. A school leaver
must always look at ways to educate oneself in a way that he/she is
‘marketable’ in the industry.
For instance, many pilots begin their careers as flight instructors.
Although the income at this stage is low, it is compensated with the
opportunity to earn flight time. Thereafter one could move on to
airlines that operate smaller aircraft that operate in a limited
geographic area and then on to major airlines that offer captains
exceptional salaries, benefits, work schedules and, of course, travel
Whether the economy booms or slumps there will always be more and more
people flying - for pleasure and for business. Thus opportunities in
aviation are plentiful, and qualified employees will always be in
demand. Statistics show that airline traffic has continued to increase
and in effect, created a staggering demand for aviation professionals.
According to Plane and Pilot magazine, for every new pilot position
about ten jobs are created on the ground. These include careers in
marketing analysis, revenue management, airline and airport operations,
aviation insurance underwriting, airport planning, consulting,
communications, and many more such exciting and potentially lucrative
fields. This is where a degree that includes a concentration in
aviation, airport, or airline management would be a big plus.
The biggest obstacle to earning your first credential is knowing what
you want to do. Having seen different paths in education and careers
progression, it is apparent that life circumstances are the main drivers
when choices have to be made. Often school leavers tend to learn what
they like (or don’t like) and just move on from there. The only time
their careers begin to move on is when they find a job they really enjoy
People have the incentive to work hard when they know what they want.
Obstacles are not as big as they seem if you have a goal in mind. If you
want to be a pilot but don’t have the necessary finances to go ahead,
you could get into an education program where flying is part of a
curriculum or if you want to be an aircraft engineer or mechanic you
should choose a programme that best simulates what aircraft technical
persons do. Tying your education to a real life goal is important.
Today in Sri Lanka, there are lots of choices in the education market
place, and it is up to you to choose wisely as you evaluate your
options. Also as a consumer you need to recognize that aviation and
other educational institutions are running a business. Thus they would
be delighted to accept you not just because they are in the business of
educating people but also because education is big money. Always talk to
a credible person in the aviation industry before you enroll yourself in
these institutions, so this way you may be advised on what to expect.
For instance, if you want to be an airline pilot, talk to a senior pilot
in one of the airlines and get his/her advice. It is your time and
money, so always be fully aware before you invest.
As your career matures you will most likely need the knowledge that
comes with additional rating, certifications and degrees. Be prepared to
go “back to school” many times during your career! Also in aviation,
certifications and rating are important credentials. These certificates
prove that you have passed a test in basic knowledge and skills for the
appropriate position. A pilot’s certificate means that you have
demonstrated the general skills to fly and an aircraft engineer or
mechanic certificate means you have demonstrated the general skills to
work on aviation equipment. Further, any ratings that one adds to
his/her certificates demonstrate proficiency in higher level or complex
skills. (Eg: rating to fly specific types of airplanes and instrument
Future aviation graduates should be those who can think. This is why it
is important to have an academic degree at the undergraduate, graduate
and PhD level. This tells future employers something about your ability