Do you have dreams of becoming a pilot or a flight attendant? Are you interested to learn more about how the world of aviation works?
Aviation is a very interesting subject to study because of the many types of jobs available in this field, with each job requiring diverse levels of certifications, training, and education.
The industry of air transportation in the US is constantly growing. With a significant number of people flying to get to their destinations, air transportation has become more feasible than buses, cars, or trains. After all, airplanes get us to our destination the fastest!
The Future of Aviation
Mobility is at the center of every socioeconomic fabric. Modes of transportation (land, sea, or air) have long ago helped facilitate access to services and goods like jobs, health care, trade, or education. Today, transportation is all about interconnectivity, speed, efficiency, and accessibility. With all these demands, this raises an issue of sustainability.
The United Nations estimates that by 2050, roughly two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities. So how can we improve the current but already-stretched mobility system to respond to the ever-increasing demands?
For a start, the mobility sector came together with a shared vision: that is, to better facilitate access to cities and countries and improve multi-layered efficacy in travel.
To date, the aviation industry has radically improved thanks to innovative solutions and state-of-the-art technologies. This equates to a higher demand for people to work in the field of aviation.
Fields of Aviation
Many people strive to achieve their dreams of belonging in the dynamic industry of aviation. Who doesn’t? With aviation, not only will you get a promising career, but this field also comes with several other benefits, such as job security and flexibility.
So which field of aviation should you choose? Below are ten career options to consider.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines aerospace engineers as the ones behind designing spacecraft, aircraft, missiles, or satellites. They also make and test prototypes to guarantee that they work according to their design.
These engineers are employed in several sectors like aerospace parts and product manufacturing, the federal government, engineering services, electromedical, and navigational industries.
Over the years, aerospace engineering has dramatically evolved since it commenced in the 19th century. Technological advancements were noted.
Today, professionals in this field are constantly working to create more environmentally friendly aircraft that hopefully produce minimal noise pollution and better fuel efficiency.
Air Traffic Controllers
These professionals are responsible for the aircraft’s movements to keep a safe distance between them. As with aerospace engineers, air traffic controllers can work in several locations, including approach control facilities, control towers, and route centers that have night, weekend, or rotating shifts.
Air traffic controllers are a different kind of breed, considering their very stressful field. But if you’re the type of person who loves the idea of working in a fast-paced, high-responsibility career, then being an air traffic controller can be uniquely satisfying to you.
Aircraft Maintenance Personnel
Also called avionics equipment technicians, aircraft maintenance personnel are trained to do scheduled maintenance on an aircraft.
They handle critical responsibilities like diagnosing electrical and mechanical problems, as well as repairing or replacing defective brakes, wings, electrical systems, and other aircraft mechanisms.
Avionics technicians turn to their maintenance manuals at all times to conduct repair procedures, examine aircraft parts for possible defects, test gauges and aircraft parts, keep records, and inspect the completed work.
This is a very famous field in the aviation industry. A lot of factors have significantly transformed the industry, including ecological requirements, fierce competition, and new technology. This is where aviation managers come into the picture.
These professionals are responsible for understanding the aviation field and navigating these transformations across everything from the manufacturing of an aircraft to controlling air traffic. With a critical responsibility like this, you need impeccable management and technical skills to be able to work correctly.
As the name implies, Aviation Safety refers to the measures undertaken to guarantee aircraft are safe and free from factors that may lead to injury or loss.
While jet airplanes have long been proven to be always safe, air travel has become safer every year as more and more aviation safety professionals play a critical role in increasing aviation safety.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), careers in aviation safety are aviation safety technicians and aviation safety inspectors.
This is one of the most popular aviation fields to date. When you become a cabin crew, you get to fly all around the world! And the best part? This is all part of your job.
Your airline will arrange your hotel room and transportation for the destinations that you’re flying with work. FlightAttendantCareer.com asserts that “every trip feels like a mini-vacation.”
Cabin crews respond to emergencies and provide routine in-flight services to guarantee their airline passengers’ comfort and safety while on board.
Apart from these responsibilities, they are also given several duties and roles, like participating in pre-flight briefings with pilots, demonstrating proper use of emergency and safety equipment, conducting pre-flight checkups of emergency equipment, attending to the needs of the passengers, and a lot more.
Aside from getting paid to travel, cabin crews also enjoy flexible scheduling. You can also have the chance to see the world and interact with people from practically all over the globe.
Civil and Military Aviation
Civil aviation includes all non-military aviation, like commercial and private flying. This field has two major categories: general aviation, which consists of all commercial and private flights, and scheduled air transport, such as cargo and passenger flights, that operate on a scheduled basis.
One international labor organization acknowledges how important civil aviation is. Global supply chains cannot function without air travel, or international tourism will not exist. Around 40% of today’s high-tech sales strongly rely on good quality air transport.
Add in the fact that perishable commodities like cut flowers or fresh food have no alternative mode of transportation other than air travel.
Military aviation, on the other hand, involves using various military aircraft as well as other flying machines that primarily conduct aerial warfare.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial and airlines pilot navigate and fly helicopters, airplanes, and other aircraft. Pilots enjoy several benefits like travel or flexible working hours. Aspiring pilots can also consider another career path; becoming helicopter pilots.
These pilots can work for the government or, better yet, have commercial employers in executive transport, sightseeing, offshore support, pipeline and utility support, crop dusting, test pilot flying, or emergency medical services.
Thus, if you are bent on becoming a pilot but an airline pilot doesn’t seem appealing to you, a good career choice is a commercial helicopter pilot.
Flight instructors train aspiring pilots on how to fly using several mediums like simulators, classroom instruction, and live flight instruction. Aside from the fact that you are sharing your passion and knowledge for flying with aspiring pilots, being a flight instructor also has job security in this field.
This is also called aviation logistics, which plays a critical role in the global economy. The World Bank asserted that air transport is a crucial enabler in a nation’s economic development and growth.
Air transport expedites integration in the global economy and further provides connectivity not only on a national, regional, or international scale. This mode of transport helps generate trade, create employment opportunities, and promote tourism.
Over the years, the aviation industry’s employment opportunities and job growth have multiplied. The BLS reports that the average salary of commercial and airline pilots is $134,630, with a projected 6% job growth by 2031. This is why more and more people aspire to be a part of the aviation profession.
Depending on the field of study you wish to learn, several quality programs, both online and traditional, provide the necessary foundational and technical skills you must learn to become an aviation professional.
Aviation Job Growth, Prospects, and Outlook
Air traffic will continually increase. It means job prospects and opportunities for commercial and private airline pilots, aircraft manufacturers, and airport workers are bright.
Because newer aircraft are expected to require less maintenance than older models, job opportunities for certain aviation mechanics and avionics professionals may be limited.
As new technologies emerge in the aviation industry, there will be greater demand for aviation mechanics and technicians specializing in a specific type of aircraft, such as military aircraft, agricultural aircraft, or a particular aircraft brand.
Recent technological advances, such as advanced GPS systems, aerial imaging devices, aerial applicators, and helicopter technology, necessitate the use of specialized maintenance services performed by a trained and skilled technician.
Those who work for government agencies or private aerospace or aviation manufacturing plants may earn a higher salary over the course of their careers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for airline pilots is expected to remain stable through 2031. Those with more experience and flight hours can enjoy job advancement and better benefits throughout their careers.
An improving economy in the country, the expansion of international carriers, and a pilot shortage all contribute to a higher demand for trained pilots.
Best Flight Training and Aviation Colleges
Purdue’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology provides an intensive teaching model with comprehensive hands-on training and education techniques. Since Purdue University focuses on teaching and the sciences, the university’s aviation school can surely match up with its ranking.
Purdue’s aviation college has seven undergraduate aviation degrees, including but not limited to professional flight, aviation management, and aerospace financial analysis.
They also offer graduate school programs such as a doctorate in aviation technology, aerospace management (on-campus and online), or MS in aviation.
University of North Dakota
University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences is proud of its high standards of professional flying school sans the astronomical tuition fees that students worry about. They offer five program objectives:
- To produce graduates with remarkable aviation skills
- To strive for utmost excellence, both on a national and international scale
- To inspire students to learn more about aviation throughout their lives
- To create a strong foundation in technology
- To provide the needed culture and skills to promote safety in the aerospace industry
This aviation school has undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. With each program, you can add a specialty certification or a minor if you wish to. All the programs also include mandatory flight course requirements.
While the cost of aviation classes is relatively pricey, there are financial aid and scholarships for students who can meet eligibility requirements.
Ohio State University
The College of Engineering’s Center for Aviation Studies of the Ohio State University is deemed one of the world’s best aviation colleges.
Partnerships between the university and prominent agencies in the aviation industry guarantee students with better employment opportunities like research and internship, along with post-graduation employment. Graduate and undergraduate programs are offered at this school.
Their undergraduate programs include a BS in Business Administration in Aviation Management (thru the Fischer College of Business), a BS in Aviation (via the College of Engineering), and a BA in Social Sciences in Air Transportation.
Students taking up any major degree program can also add a professional pilot specialization that will pave their way toward earning a Commercial Pilot’s Certificate.
San Jose State University
The College of Engineering of San Jose State University offers a Department of Aviation and Technology. They offer two bachelor’s programs; a BS in Industrial Technology and BS in Aviation Degree. Within these degrees, you can specialize in maintenance management, operations, professional flight, or aviation management.
The school also offers a master’s program, perfect for full-time working professionals, as these classes are offered during the evening or online.
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Founded in the early 70s, the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University has more than 170 locations worldwide and is currently the leading provider of degree programs for aviation education. This school offers a variety of non-degree and degree programs in aerospace and aviation.
According to the US News and World Report, the school’s aerospace engineering program has consistently topped the nation for nine straight years.
They also have online degree program offerings like a bachelor’s or associate degree in aviation business administration, professional aeronautics, or aviation maintenance.
Their master’s degree programs include space education, technical management, and supply and logistics chain management.
Each curriculum program provides extensive study in the field of aeronautical science. It also includes navigational courses, training in their top-of-the-line aircraft simulator, and communications. Students also get to explore core areas like ethics, philosophy, geography, humanities, and psychology.
This school has several degree options in the field of aviation: a certificate program in professional piloting, an Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Business, a professional pilot specialization, or a resident/correspondence program in aircraft dispatch.
Flight training for their pilot programs commences during the first quarter of study and utilizes both ground school and actual flight training. To have the most intensive educational experience, students get to learn either on a single or a multi-engine aircraft.
The school has a structured and result-oriented curriculum to ensure that all their students are geared with the proper training and knowledge crucial to become a successful pilots. All the courses they offer are FAA approved and are secured under FAR Part 141.
Established in 1969, Hallmark University is a private school aimed at providing industry-relevant programs. The School of Aeronautics at this university has both associate and diploma programs: applied science degree programs in aviation or airframe technology/power plant technology.
These programs span 15 months and are designed to prepare graduate students with the necessary knowledge and skills required to become professionals in the aviation field. Students can learn how to correctly diagnose an aircraft issue as well as maintain and repair this aircraft.
All program curricula adhere to the regulations and requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that students are qualified to take FAA-administered certification exams.
The school also provides a test incentive program. Here, students can earn vouchers that can assist them in paying for the cost of every test. Furthermore, Hallmark University also has diploma programs such as airframe technicians, aviation technicians, or power plant technicians.
These programs need between 54 and 90 credits and intensive hours of practice (1174-1926 hours) to hone their learned skills.
Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology
This school was established in 1928, and to this day, it has produced numerous graduates who have excelled and made impressive contributions to the aviation industry.
Spartan College’s suite of programs tackles the many facets of the industry, including the areas of technology, manufacturing, aerospace, and aviation.
The aviation program is either a diploma program or offered at the associate’s and bachelor’s levels. Students can pursue diploma programs in nondestructive testing, avionics maintenance technology, or aviation management.
Spartan College’s Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance, along with other majors in avionics, gears the students for an entry-level position.
The Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology Management combines education, training, and experience to guarantee that graduates are properly equipped with the needed skills to become successful in their chosen field. It can be completed in 16 months.
Rio Salado College
This public institution has a successful thirty-year history and has served more than 20,000 people. They offer flexible and customized degree programs that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of each individual.
As a student, you can choose to have a certificate program, an associate program, or a bachelor’s degree program.
The school’s associate degree in Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Airline Operations is designed to prepare each student with the basic skills required to handle the many facets of airline operations while being fully compliant with FAA regulations.
Besides gaining fundamental airline operation acumen, graduates also emerge with strong interpersonal skills in customer service, time management, and professional ethics.
L3Harris Flight Academy
Created by Comair Airlines, this flight academy is now owned by Delta Connections. It was established in 1989 as a flight school and has since been considered one of the leading institutions for pilot training. They have produced top first officer candidates for several regional airlines. This academy has 73 aircraft in its fleet, and most of its graduates are now employed in over 30 airlines.
Originally, LFA was a flight school that offered pilot training. Over time, they began to offer bachelor’s and associate degree programs via joint partnerships with Broward College, Jacksonville University, and San Jacinto College.
The fast-paced Professional Pilot program can be completed in two years, with courses such as High Altitude Weather Training, Coursework in Advanced Systems, High-speed Aerodynamics, Part 121 Operations, Automation, and Advanced Aircraft Systems. It has two phases: the flight instructor phase and the training phase—each of which has a duration of 12 months.
Kansas State University
Kansas State University offers a Professional Aviation Bachelor’s Degree program through its K-State Salina. It is a 100% online program with 8- and 16-week courses, providing students with the flexibility to complete their degrees.
K-State Salina’s aviation degree is ideal for students with aviation licensure, ratings, academic credits, certificates, and other aviation-related credentials.
The program builds upon current skills and knowledge and provides a pathway to advance students’ credentials in the aviation industry. Apart from current experience, the university allows students to transfer up to 60 credit hours, as well as applicable military service.
The university offers Associate’s and Bachelor’s programs in Professional Pilot studies through its K-State Aerospace and Technology Campus. It is one of the few programs in the U.S. that allows students to fly a CRJ 700 or Canadair Regional Jet simulator, resembling the Bombardier airplanes.
Through the simulator, students gain hands-on experience running systems, checklist flows, and other avionics processes. Students can also quickly move from classroom to flight line since the campus is nearby Salina Regional Airport, where they can experience practical training on a 12,300-foot runway.
The professional pilot degree program is FAA-approved, allowing students to complete commercial pilot training in as few as 190 hours for a baccalaureate program. The training also makes students qualified to get the Restricted Airline Transport Pilot Certificate in as few as 1,250 hours for the associate degree or 1,500 hours for the bachelor’s degree.
Western Michigan University
Accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International, Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation offers a variety of programs in aviation studies, namely:
- Aviation Flight Science
- Aviation Technical Operations
- Aviation Management and Operations
- Aviation Minors
- Air Force ROTC
- Specialized Training
The Aviation Flight Science program is ideal for students with no flight experience.
WMich’s B.S. in Aviation Technical Operations program prepares students in the aircraft manufacturing, repair, and maintenance fields.
The program focuses on aircraft inspection, testing, system design, and structures. Students gain training and hands-on experience through small, single-engine aircraft, such as Cessna 182 and 172.
The university also has several aircraft for maintenance training, including a Boeing 727, and Beechcraft King Air, and Baron. Since the university is a Federal Aviation Regulation Part 147 Aviation Technical Operations school, graduates can qualify to take the exams for the FAA mechanics license with powerplant and airframe ratings.
Students can enroll in WMich’s Aviation Minors to complement their academic credentials, including Aviation Science, Military Leadership and Aviation Studies, and Professional Aviation Preparation.
The Air Force ROTC program is offered in collaboration with Michigan State University. It is an academic opportunity for men and women to become a Space Force or Air Force officer while completing a degree.
As part of the curriculum, students take the General Military Course during their freshman and sophomore years, allowing them to try out the Air Force ROTC for two years without obligation. Students enrolled in this program will complete the Army ROTC elective curriculum and the required course requirements.
Specialized Training is a set of elective specialized training courses that are excellent options to jumpstart a career in the aviation industry. Students can enroll in the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Float Plane Training, or Jet Equivalency Training courses.
Utah Valley University
The School of Aviation Sciences at Utah Valley University offers three aviation-related degree programs: Bachelor of Science in Professional Pilot, Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management, and Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Technology Management.
The Professional Pilot program’s curriculum includes FAA flight training and leaves graduates with a minimum Commercial Pilot Certificate. Students can also enroll for additional certificates through Multi-Engine Instructor as electives.
Enrollment in the Professional Pilot program credits students’ previous academic courses, FAA pilot ratings and certificates, and industry experiences. The program is offered on campus and online, with flight training completed at the Provo, Utah facility or the student’s flight school of choice.
Since UVU’s Part 141 training facility is FAA-approved, graduates can complete 1,000 hours of flight time instead of the standard 1,500 requirements.
UVU’s Aviation Management program provides students with foundational knowledge and experiences required in the aviation industry. The program also features certifications, internships, and any additional training necessary for graduates’ chosen professional pathways.
Students in the Aviation Management program demonstrate proficiencies in managing private and public aviation establishments. They will be assessed through a comprehensive examination facilitated by the AVSC 4900 Strategic Aviation Management and through the Aviation Technical Analysis rubric.
The Aerospace Technology Management program prepares students for a variety of technical roles related to an aerospace product’s life cycle.
The program provides a completion degree for students with a license as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Cat B1) or those with the Maintenance Technician Certificate defined by FAR Part 65.
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida Institute of Technology has several aviation-related undergraduate and graduate programs offered through the College of Aeronautics.
Undergraduate programs offered at FIT include:
- A.A. in Aviation Management
- A.A. in Flight Operations and Dispatch
- B.A. in Aviation Management
- B.S. in Aeronautical Science
- B.S. in Aeronautical Science – Flight
- B.S. in Aviation Management
- B.S. in Aviation Management – Flight
- B.S. in Aviation Meteorology
- B.S. in Aviation Meteorology – Flight
- B.S. in Aviation Human Factors
- B.S. in Aviation Human Factors – Flight
FIT’s four out of 11 undergraduate programs are accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International.
FIT also offers the following graduation options:
- M.S. in Aviation Human Factors
- MSA in Aviation – Airport Development and Management
- MSA in Aviation – Applied Aviation Safety
- MSA in Aviation Management
- MSA in Aviation – Aviation Safety
- M.S. in Human Factors in Aeronautics
- Ph.D. in Aviation Sciences
Apart from the university’s standard degree options, FIT offers Pathway programs for students to determine and jumpstart their careers in a major airline during their sophomore year.
The university has eight partner airlines in the development of Pathway programs, namely: Aviate, Endeavor Air, Envoy, JetBlue Gateways, PSA Airlines, and Republic Airways.
All aspiring pilots at FIT begin their flight training in the 1st semester at the Emil Buehler Center for Aviation Training and Research. They also gain experience and training in flight lines and simulator centers.
Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Do you prefer a flight training school beyond the standard universities and colleges? Aviation Institute of Maintenance is an excellent option, with two academic programs to get associate credentials.
AIM offers an Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Occupational Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology programs that can be completed in 29 months.
The 93-credit hour programs teach students how to work on engine systems, flight-controlled systems, aircraft systems, powerplants, and aviation structures. These programs also prepare them to qualify for the FAA certification as Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics.
AIM also has non-traditional programs allowing aspiring aviation professionals to earn academic credits and training in lesser time, namely:
- Aviation Maintenance Technical Engineer Program
- Aviation Maintenance Technician – Avionics
- Avionics Technician
- Aviation Maintenance Technician – Helicopter
The Aviation Maintenance Technical Engineer Program requires 100.5 credit hours for completion and can be completed within 27 months. The program focuses on fundamental theories of flight and advanced electronic systems on modern aircraft.
It prepares graduates to obtain the skills and knowledge to pass the FAA examinations and receive the mechanic certificate with A&P ratings.
AIM’s Aviation Maintenance Technician program can be completed in 21 months, requiring 78 credit hours for completion. Students gain specialized skills essential to working on flight and instrument control systems, aircraft structures, and digital systems.
They must complete two Capstone courses, preparing students to sit and pass the CertTEC exams, Aircraft Electronics Technician Certificate, and the General FAA written exam.
Students with professional experience or training in aircraft maintenance or electronic repairs can pursue AIM’s Avionics Technician program. They can already complete the program in seven months, provided they obtain 22.5 credit hours.
Another program is the Aviation Maintenance Technician – Helicopter which students learn the essentials of rotary and fixed aircraft, gaining an in-depth understanding of how to repair and troubleshoot aircraft systems effectively. It provides training and credentials to pass the FAA test to receive the Airframe and Powerplant Technician Certificate.
Delaware State University
Delaware State University’s College of Business has a Bachelor of Science in Aviation – Professional Pilot concentration and a Bachelor of Science in Aviation – Aviation Management concentration. Both programs have received approval from the State of Delaware Education Department for Veterans Flight Training.
The university has a student-centered learning facility where students can gain advanced training in Aviation Management. Desu’s internship agreements with DuPont Aviation and Continental Airlines allow students to gain real-world experience and proficiencies within the aviation industry.
The university also has close ties with the local chapter of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots and Tuskegee Airmen, offering students the OBAP Solo Flight Academy and the Aviation Career Education Camp.
Students enrolled in the program will complete their FAA requirements for the Certified Flight Instructor ratings, Multi-Engine, Commercial License, Instrument rating, and Private Pilot License while completing a bachelor’s degree. Graduates of the FAA-Approved Part 141 Aviation program can quickly jumpstart a Professional Pilot career in the aviation industry.
Throughout the Aviation program, students have the opportunity to gain practical experience via flight simulators, namely: the CR-12 Advanced Aviation Training Device and the ATC-610/710 Flight Training Device.
Why a Career in Aviation is a Good Move
Deciding to enter the world of aviation is a huge decision. However, there are several reasons why fulfilling this dream is something you should push to take your career to new heights.
- Fulfill your passion. Flying is addicting, and wouldn’t it be reason enough to fuel your dreams and make them a reality? If you believe that you are born to fly, then the sky is the limit for a soaring and promising career.
- You become a member of an exclusive group. Did you know that only 0.2% of the whole US population has a license to fly? This makes this a chosen group composed of only an exceptional few.
- Job flexibility. Once you become an experienced pilot, you get to have the luxury of ‘working’ from one city to the next, wherever your job will take you.
- More travels. Pilots have this unique chance to travel all across the globe, learn about different cultures, and experience exotic destinations.
- Financially rewarding. As their careers advance, pilots can also earn excellent salaries. While airline and commercial pilots both navigate and fly planes, helicopters, and other aircraft, airline pilots accordingly earn better salaries than those commercial pilots; this is according to the US Department Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Better flight skills. Since pilots have to undergo constant training to better their skills, this is one career that will keep you in demand and very sharp.
- Sense of accomplishment. Flying your very first solo flight may prove to be one of the most confidence-building and satisfying experiences of your life. Pilots will learn and discover more about themselves while undergoing training. The fact that they are trained to make intelligent on-the-spot decisions, or when they are made to judge challenging situations without warning, will surely give that inner feeling of accomplishment.
Like many aspiring people who wish to become a part of the aviation industry, several institutions can make it all happen for you. Aviation schools offer certificates, associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree programs.