As an aviation management professional, you will work at airports, airlines and related businesses in the aviation and aerospace industries. It is common to oversee day to day operations of the airport or a department within that organization. Aviation managers are highly trained in management principles specific to aviation, and also have a high level of knowledge in aeronautical science and air transportation.
What Is Aviation Management?
Pilots and flight attendants are the most obvious workers in the aviation industry. But there is a great deal more involved to make aviation and airline companies successful. Aviation management and operations involves the many business-related aspects of air transportation. Aviation managers are typically employed by airlines, aerospace companies and airports. They are in charge of ensuring that the business operation are being handled smoothly.
In aviation management, it is possible to work in fleet planning, management of revenue, safety, employee hiring, marketing and public relations. Aviation management also involves making sure that the company is following all state and federal regulations pertaining to airline safety.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for all transportation-related occupations will grow by 6% by 2026. This is about as fast as average when compared to all occupations. There will be approximately 643,000 new jobs in this entire sector by that year.
BLS does not provide job outlook information for aviation managers, and there is little other information available on this specific occupation. However, BLS reports that the employment outlook for all administrative services managers is bright. There will be 10% job growth through 2026 in this field, which is faster than average when compared to all occupations.
As the global economy is getting stronger and recovering from the last downturn, it is likely that there will be higher demand for air travel. This should lead to higher demand for aviation managers.
Administrative services managers held a total of 281,700 jobs in 2016. The biggest employers in this occupation were:
- Educational services: 13%
- Healthcare and social assistance: 13%
- Professional, technical and scientific services: 9%
- Finance and insurance: 8%
- Local government: 7%
The median salary for all administrative services managers in 2016 was $90,050, according to BLS. The top 10% earned $159,000 per year. The bureau also states that the top paying industries for administrative services managers were:
- Finance and insurance: $100,200
- Professional, technical and scientific services: $97,850
- Local government: $91,300
- Educational services: $86,200
- Healthcare and social assistance: $83,800
Salary.com also reports that the median salary for aviation managers is $161,300.
The area of the country where you work is also important for getting a good job in aviation management:
- New York
- North Carolina
With a degree in aviation management, you will have the skills to work for some of the best companies in aviation and aerospace. Below are some of the best employers in these fields:
- Boeing: This giant company is based in Chicago and works in 70 countries. It has 158,000 employees, and more than 32,000 of them have advanced degrees.
- Honeywell International: The company employees more than 128,000 people in 100 countries. Nearly 60,000 of them are in the US.
- Lockheed Martin: Around the world, this leader in the aerospace industry employs 140,000 people. It is a major supplier to the Department of Defense so there is always a strong demand for products from this company.
- Northrop Grumman: More than 120,000 people currently work for this company around the world. It also is a major supplier to the Department of Defense.
- Raytheon: This company manufactures both government and civil aerospace applications. Some of the top products are radar and guidance systems and surveillance systems.
- Southwest Airlines: This was named by Glassdoor.com as one of the top aviation companies to work for in 2009. It is based in Dallas and employs more than 35,000 people.
- Delta Airlines: This airline is based in Atlanta and is the biggest commercial airline company in the world. It currently has more than 75,000 employees and serves more than 350 destinations around the globe.
A bachelor’s degree in aviation management will offer you a broad base of knowledge in aviation management, including the newest technology in aviation and best practices in the field. Students who have an interest in aviation and/or aeronautics may want to earn this degree because of the useful combination of business principles and aviation.
A good example is the bachelor’s program offered at Florida Tech. The degree will help you to develop a good perspective of airport management and development, as well as air transportation management. Students also obtain practical knowledge as they are required to come up with their own airline business plan, which includes factors that affect airfield capacity and airspace. Also involved is selecting equipment and facilities needed to run an efficient aviation maintenance operation.
A bachelor’s degree in aviation management can increase your professional job opportunities in areas such as airline manager, aviation director, airport operations manager, manager of general aviation, manager for airport security and freight manager.
A master’s degree in aviation management offers people who work in private, public and military professions with the advanced aviation business knowledge to advance their careers and to move into higher level management positions. Those who are interested in upper level management aviation management careers usually find that this master’s degree gives them an edge over others.
Students typically will study statistical and technical tools to make good decisions in aviation management, and learn to develop analytic and problem solving skills that are related to careers in aviation. This type of graduate program also will help students to understand and properly apply the newest aviation technology. Some of the typical courses in a master’s program are human error and safety; measurement and evaluation; how to manage and design instructional systems; critical systems; operational improvement and assessment; aviation leadership; and transportation security.
A master’s degree in aviation management may be a good choice for those in these occupations:
- Commercial pilot
- Corporate pilot
- Aviation consultant
- Field service engineer
- Air traffic controller
- Aviation business owner
- Transportation systems specialist
- Aircraft mechanic supervisor
Each university and program can establish its own requirements for admission. However, if you want to get a master’s degree, the following criteria are common:
- Complete a related undergraduate degree
- Minimum GPA of 2.5 or 3.0
- GMAT or GRE test scores may be required; some schools may offer a waiver if you meet certain criteria, such as high GPA or years of work experience
- Three letters of recommendation
- Official transcripts
The curriculum that you study in aviation management depends upon the university and the level of degree. A possible option is to earn an MBA with a concentration in aviation management. Lynn University has such a program and requires the completion of these aviation management courses:
- Aviation Organization Operation: Looks at organizational systems and management in the aviation business. Studies development and integration of efficient work elements, and the personnel issues that have to be solved for leadership to be effective in the aviation field.
- Airport Operations: Covers regulatory and management issues that are key in airport management, and to be a leader in the airport or aviation field. Also covered are various aspects of airway and airport management. This course prepares students to complete the AAAE Certified Member designation examination.
- Special Topics in Aviation Management: Advanced lecture topics in airport security, terrorism and aviation, special uses of air space and air traffic control technology.
Students and professionals who desire a career in aviation management usually need a degree for the best work opportunities. Of course, attending college can be expensive, especially if you earn a master’s degree. There are a variety of scholarships and grants available to those who are interested in a business career in aviation that can help you:
- Alan H. Conklin Business Aviation Management Scholarship: This is a $5000 scholarship that is awarded to undergraduate students who are enrolled in aviation management at a university who is a member of the University Aviation Association.
- Eddie Queen Business Aviation Management Scholarship: This is a $2500 award for students who want to pursue a career in business aviation management at a university that belongs to the University Aviation Association.
- Delta Airlines Aviation Maintenance Management/Aviation Business Scholarship: This is a scholarship of various amounts for women who belong to the group Women in Aviation International.
- National Aircraft Resale Association Scholarship: A scholarship for various amounts that is provided to an undergraduate student in aviation management.
- Women in Corporate Aviation Scholarship: Various amounts.
Professionals who want a thriving career in aviation management may consider becoming a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). Becoming a CM is recognized as an effective way to show potential employers that you are dedicated to an airport career.
Candidates in the CM program must belong to the AAAE, and then complete a 180 question test that is multiple choice. This test will check your knowledge of information regarding airport management. Students who pass this examination are able to put C.M. after their name on their resume. This is a good way to increase your career options in the aviation management field.
Another option is to earn the Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) through the National Business Aviation Association. This rigorous examination will test your skills in operations, leadership, personnel management and also facilities and technical services. To qualify for this exam, you need to have a suitable level of work and educational experience.
To enjoy the best career prospects in aviation management and related fields, it is helpful to belong to associations and groups. Attending meetings and corresponding with others in the field can help to advance your career and education. Some of the most relevant organizations in aviation management are:
- American Association of Airport Executives
- National Business Aviation Association
- Aerospace Industries Association
- National Air Transportation Association
- Aviation Suppliers Association
- General Aviation Manufacturers Association
- Administrative Services Managers. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm#tab-5
- Bachelor of Arts in Aviation Management. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.floridatechonline.com/aviation/ba-aviation-management/
- Aviation Management MBA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lynn.edu/academics/colleges-schools/aviation-management-mba
- Certified Member Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.aaae.org/AAAE/AAAEMBR/PD/AC/CM/AAAEMemberResponsive/PD/AC/CM_Program/Certified_Member_Program.aspx?hkey=a5d8009f-72ec-4419-b9b3-8cca2cf9120c
- What Is an Aviation Manager? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://learn.org/articles/What_is_an_Aviation_Manager.html