Airports offer a wide range of employment opportunities, with jobs ranging from senior management positions and technical roles to customer service and unskilled labor. With such a broad spectrum of job options, if you love flying and helping people get where they need to go, finding a job at your local airport might be easier than you thought.
Working in an airport provides many chances for job advancement. Airport jobs tend to be high in turnover, offering employees the chance to work their way up the ladder if they are willing to stay in their positions for a longer period of time. Airports also tend to organize businesses of a similar nature in the same general location, making it easy to network and make business contacts and find new opportunities.
Most Common Job Titles and Descriptions
Airline and Commercial PilotsPilots fly and navigate commercial or private airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft. Airline pilots typically work for airlines and transport people and cargo. Commercial pilots on the other hand, fly charter flights, rescue operations, aerial photography flights, rescue operations, and some for aerial application (crop dusting).
Flight AttendantsThe main goal of a flight attendant is to ensure the comfort and safety of their airline passengers. Attendants work inside the aircraft they are assigned. They work evenings, weekends, holidays, and are sometimes required to be on-call during their off hours. Flight attendants can be away from home for up to 2 to 3 nights a week depending on their flight schedule and distances of their flights.
Airport ManagersAirport managers oversee the running of the airport as a whole, making sure that it runs safely and efficiently every day. Managers will be very familiar with airline policy and procedures and different areas of operation, and it is up to them to make sure all airport staff provide excellent service to travellers. Airport managers are also responsible for ensuring that security standards are maintained at all times, and for dealing with any day to day problems that may arise.
Fixed Based OperatorFixed Based Operators are private commercial companies that provide a variety of general aviation support services to airports. These services include maintenance and flight instruction, hangering, fueling and parking. In some instances, they also offer aircraft rental and storage, sale of airplane parts, crop dusting, aerial surveying and advertising, and even pilot training.
Customer Service AgentsAirports hire a large number of personnel to support the thousands of travellers passing through every day. These roles can include customer service agents to advise and offer assistance to travellers as well as check-in and boarding staff who help to get passengers from the check-in desk to the gate and on the plane.
Retail and Restaurant StaffThe types of businesses in the airport can range from small gift shops to large retail stores and from small eateries to large chain restaurants. In the major airports, and even some of the small, this requires a large number of for retail, restaurant, and customer service staff to facilitate and feed the sometimes thousands of travelers coming in and out of the airport each day.
SecuritySince the attacks that happened to our nation on September 11, 2001, airport security is tighter than ever, and every airport employs a large security staff to search passengers and their luggage before boarding. Airport security agents are also tasked with monitoring the airport for potential security threats and to support other staff throughout the airport with any security needs.
Salary Statistics and Growth
Salaries vary widely according to airport role. Customer Service Agents, Airport Operators, Gate Guards and junior Maintenance staff and Parking Attendants earn an average of $10-12 per hour. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, flight attendants typically earn about $37k. More specialised roles, like Operations Supervisors, Inspectors, Business Analysts and Maintenance Supervisors earn in the region of $40-60K. Airport management positions start around $75K.
Job Field Growth or Decline
Air passenger numbers are set to increase this year, with new routes and destinations opening up with increasing frequency. Consumer expectation is also growing, and with increasing competition in the airline market, airport based employers are under constant pressure to keep standards high. This is good news for anyone hoping to work in the airport sector. On the downside, airline costs are going up and margins are thin, particularly as oil prices and competition are on an upward trend.
Best States for Airline Jobs
America’s largest airports include:
- Arizona - Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Atlanta - Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- California - Los Angeles International Airport
- California - San Francisco International Airport
- Chicago - O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
- Colorado - Denver International Airport
- Nevada - McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas
- New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York
- North Carolina - Charlotte Douglas International Airport
- Texas - Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Job Certifications, Training, Education Requirements
Job requirements depend on role, with more senior technical roles requiring specific qualifications and educational degrees, and management positions requiring transferrable experience and often a degree. However airports also offer many entry level positions, and those that start at the beginning will find many opportunities to advance their careers with on the job training and a good network of contacts. Mid-level applicants with relevant previous experience will find a range of attainable roles in customer-facing security and service positions.
Where Can I Go From Here?
Airport based skills are highly transferrable, and working in the airport industry opens up job possibilities all over the world. With such a wide range of airline companies and airport departments working in such close proximity to each other, finding new opportunities within your field is relatively easy, and the contacts you make in one airport will be helpful in finding roles in the future.
Top US Employers in This Field
List comes from airfarewatchdog.com.
- Alaska Airlines
- Virgin America
- American (includes US Airways)
By Staff Writer, SimplyJobs