Guide | The Benefit of Working in Aviation Careers
When people are searching for careers, they typically want to choose an industry where the outlook is promising —not only increasing the likelihood they’ll have strong employment possibilities for years to come, but that they’ll also earn a good salary.
That’s why so many people are looking for jobs in aviation.
Many of the world’s top aviation companies, including airplane manufacturers and commercial airlines, are consistently working to recruit top talent to fill aviation jobs. Many of these careers in aviation are skilled positions, but once the professional receives the necessary training, they can earn a competitive salary and job security.
While many industries such as manufacturing have seen declines in the U.S. in past decades, the aviation industry and aviation careers only seem to be strengthening, particularly as more and more consumers are flying more often. Air travel is often a preferred method of transportation, and airlines have been able to continue raising prices while simultaneously seeing a rise in demand.
It’s important to note that the airline industry and jobs in aviation account for more than $1.5 trillion in economic activity in the U.S. and more than 10 million jobs.
The following is a ranking of some of the best aviation jobs and careers in aviation that are suitable for a wide variety of professionals. Jobs included on this list of aviation careers include highly-skilled positions such as aviation engineering jobs, aviation maintenance jobs, and aviation security jobs.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Aviation Jobs
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the aviation job names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that job):
- Aeronautical Engineer
- Aircraft Interior Technician
- Aircraft Test Pilot
- Air Traffic Controller
- Avionics Technician
- Flight Mechanic
Top 6 Best Aviation Jobs | Brief Comparison
Best Aviation Jobs
Median Annual Wage
Training and Education Required
|Aeronautical Engineer||At least a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another engineering science field|
|Aircraft Interior Technician|
|High school diploma and maybe technical or vocational training|
|Aircraft Test Pilot|
$106,298 (senior test pilots)
|Bachelor’s degree, usually military experience, and also specific training programs|
|Air Traffic Controller||High school diploma or bachelor’s degree (depending on job experience), and FAA specialized training|
|Avionics Technician||Certification in avionics|
|Flight Mechanic||FAA training program completion|
What Are the Benefits of Aviation Careers?
You may be asking yourself what the benefits of aviation careers and jobs in the aviation industry are over other industries and career paths.
- Working in aviation careers often means job security and a positive job outlook in many instances. As mentioned at the start of this review of careers in aviation, this industry is one that continues to grow and is unlikely to slow its growth because of the demand and need for air travel.When people are selecting a career, one of the most important considerations should be demand, and this is a place jobs in aviation tend to excel. There are estimates showing the need for air transport will increase by an average of 4.3% over the next 20 years.
- There is room for upward mobility. There are so many aviation careers within the industry, and while you may be hired for an entry-level job, over time, you can be promoted through the company to higher positions.It’s in contrast to many other career paths, where there may not be any opportunities to move up. It is common in aviation industry jobs to promote from within as well.
- Most companies that hire professionals to fill jobs in aviation tend to offer not only competitive pay but also excellent benefits packages, which may include travel passes, insurance, profit sharing, and retirement programs.
These are just a few of the many benefits of aviation careers.
Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Aviation Jobs
Aeronautical Engineer Review
The career of an aeronautical engineer is one that’s relatively prestigious in the U.S. Many times, rather than working for commercial airlines, these roles are found in the government, or these professionals may work as defense contractors. The broader job is referred to as an aerospace engineer; aeronautical engineers are a more specific category of this career, one of the leading jobs in the aviation industry.
Image source: Pixabay
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Jobs in Aviation
Reasons aeronautical engineer is included on this list of the best aviation jobs and aviation engineering jobs are detailed below.
The general role of an aerospace engineer, one of the top aviation engineering jobs on this list of careers in aviation, is one that puts the professional in charge of the design and maintenance as well as research and development of not only aircraft but in many cases spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.
A lot of what professionals in this role do involves testing prototypes to make sure they work properly and achieve their objectives, and these engineers are also involved in the manufacturing of aircraft and defense craft.
It should be noted that when specifically referring to aeronautical engineers, rather than general aerospace engineers, the entire focus is on working with aircraft, rather than spacecraft.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the focus of demand for this leader among aviation engineering jobs will be more on research and development in the coming years. The design of civilian aircraft is expected to be a part of this career field that will be especially important, and many of the most common projects will focus on making aircraft quieter, safer, more efficient, and better overall.
Also, aeronautical engineers who work in specific areas such as engines will continue to be in demand, especially since the focus of this particular area of the aviation industry will likely shift to rebuilding existing aircraft to improve performance and efficiency.
The role of an aerospace or aeronautical engineer is one of the most high-paying on this list of top aviation engineering jobs and careers in aviation.
According to BLS, the median annual wage for aerospace engineers in May 2015 was $107,830. The lowest 10 percent of professionals in this role earned less than $67,850, while the highest paid 10 percent earned $158,700.
Aircraft Interior Technician Review
A specialized position, an aircraft interior technician is a professional who builds, repairs, and maintains the interior of aircraft, generally where passengers are located. The majority of aircraft interior technicians are employed by airlines or airline service companies, and these people usually have a set daily schedule, which is why it’s included on this list of aviation maintenance jobs and the best aviation careers.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Aviation Jobs
Among aviation jobs and jet aviation jobs, this is one of the best options for reasons like the ones highlighted below.
While some of the positions listed on this ranking of top careers in aviation and aviation industry jobs may require at least a bachelor’s degree, the role of aircraft interior technician typically requires only a high school diploma, and perhaps some training from a vocational school.
The usual career path with this leader among aviation jobs starts at the lower level, such as working as part of the grounds crew. Then, the professional can gain on-the-job experience and training and move up to the role of aircraft interior technician.
The fact that a bachelor’s degree isn’t required was an important consideration when including aircraft interior technician on this list of the top aviation industry jobs; we felt it was important for us to include options that would work well for a variety of people.
Modest growth in this specialized career field is anticipated in the coming years, and it’s expected that many of the available jobs will be the result of current technicians retiring.
The most common places to find strong employment opportunities as an aircraft interior technician are with smaller and regional airlines, as well as FAA-operated repair stations. There are opportunities at larger airlines where the pay and opportunities may be greater, but there is also more competition.
If you want the best chance of landing a good job as an aircraft interior technician, you should take some type of formal training program.
Again, when choosing the aviation industry jobs and aviation maintenance jobs to include on this ranking, pay was important in making the decision. Our goal is to help professionals in their aviation job search, and pay is a major component of this.
Image Source: Payscale.com
According to Payscale.com, aircraft interior technicians’ median hourly pay is $18.10 per hour. The hourly rate nationally ranges from $11.15 to $28.36, and total yearly pay ranges from $23,367 to $67,405 as of October 2016.
Test Pilot Review
Being a test pilot is one of the most specialized and high-level careers on this list of the top jobs in aviation and jet aviation jobs. It’s considered part of research and development in the aviation industry, and the primary objective is to determine if new aircraft meets safety standards. Once an aircraft is finished in production, a test pilot takes over to determine whether or not it’s ready for the air.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of Top Jobs in Aviation
Below is a general overview of the position of a test pilot, as well as reasons it’s included on this list of top aviation careers.
If you’re just starting your aviation job search, it’s important to have an understanding of the general duties of each role named on this ranking of top jobs in the aviation industry.
A test pilot, as the name implies, is someone who tests new planes. Aircraft have to meet very rigorous standards, particularly for safety, which is why being a test pilot is such a critical position.
Before a plane is put into service, or if an existing aircraft has gone through significant overhauls, test pilots will fly it to make sure it’s ready to be accepted by an airline.
The FAA is responsible for hiring most test pilots, and along with having a bachelor’s degree in math, physics, or a related field, many test pilots also have military experience, and they must attend test pilot school.
One of the key reasons test pilot is included on this list of top jobs in the aviation industry is because it’s a prestigious, highly skilled position, and professionals who do it tend to find it very rewarding.
Test pilots are often in the cockpit doing flight tests, so it’s a good career in the overall field of aviation careers for people who love excitement and love flying. There can be a lot of pressure in this position, but the people who work as test pilots tend to thrive in that kind of environment.
When test pilots aren’t in the air or the cockpit, they’re often working on planning, development, design, and research regarding testing procedures.
If your key concern with your aviation job search is earning potential, the role of test pilot is a well-paid position, particularly because of the stressful demands as well as the training requirements you must go through.
According to Salary.com, intermediate test pilots earn a median annual income of $73,848. Senior test pilots make a median income of $106,298, and for professionals that are considered specialist test pilots, the median income goes up to $160,746.
Salary.com and Learn.org also report that there is a relatively stable employment outlook for test pilots, especially since airlines and the armed forces are continuing to advance their technology and look for new ways to improve performance and efficiency.
Air Traffic Controller Review
An air traffic controller is, in simplest terms, a professional who works on managing the takeoff and landing of aircraft. Many air traffic controllers work from control towers, although they may work at other locations as well. The ultimate objective of an air traffic controller, one of the best aviation industry jobs, is to make sure aircraft remain a safe distance from one another not only in the air but also on the ground.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Jobs in Aviation
Some of the things to consider about being an air traffic controller during your aviation job search are detailed below, as are reasons this is ranked as one of the top jobs in aviation.
While when most people hear the term air traffic controller, they think of someone who works in a tower, there are other settings where an air traffic controller may work as well. Along with tower controllers, there are also approach and departure controllers who monitor planes as they’re traveling in the airspace, and there are en route controllers who monitor aircraft when they’re not in the airspace of an airport. They usually don’t work at airports, and instead work at control centers located throughout the country.
The majority of air traffic controllers, one of the top aviation jobs, work for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Professionals who are part of this pick for one of the best aviation jobs are required to be efficient, to think on their feet, and to work in stressful situations where not only safety but also timing are top concerns.
According to the BLS, while in general there may be some decline in the demand for air traffic controllers in coming years, there will still be opportunities in this career field, one of the top aviation jobs, as the result of replacing retiring workers.
There is also the belief that air traffic is likely to increase, and the best job prospects will probably be for those professionals who are in their early 20s and have the capability to pass the FAA’s biodata tests.
The competition in this field is intense, but people who are willing to relocate anywhere in the country are likely to fare well.
According to Travel + Leisure, the FAA is looking to train more than a thousand new professionals to prepare for the workforce.
During your aviation job search and research to find the best aviation jobs, you’ll see that the role of air traffic controller pays very well. According to BLS, the median annual wage for air traffic controllers was $122,950 in May 2015. The lowest 10 percent of air traffic controllers, one of the leading careers in aviation, earned $66,780 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $172,590.
Image Source: BLS
Salaries for air traffic controllers, one of the leading jet aviation jobs and overall aviation careers, tend to go up the more training programs a professional completes. Other factors that determine salary include completing on-the-job training and complexity of flight paths at the facility where the person works.
Avionics Technician Review
Another one of the aviation jobs that are ranked as one of the best aviation jobs on this list is the position of avionics technician. An avionics technician, one of the top jobs in the aviation industry, is responsible for the repair and maintenance of electronic systems in an aircraft. This can include but isn’t limited to navigation, radio communication, weather radars, and engine control. Being an avionics technician is one of the most sought after aviation maintenance jobs.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Aviation Maintenance Jobs
Among aviation security jobs, aviation maintenance jobs, and aviation engineering jobs, the following are some specific features and benefits of the role of avionics technician.
What They Do
As mentioned above, an avionics technician is someone who works with the electronic components of an aircraft, and they may also work on electronic systems within airports as well. Some of the typical job duties of an avionics technician might include:
- Running diagnostic tests
- Performing repairs as needed
- Maintaining systems based on standards set by the FAA
- Traveling between airports or to off-site planes
- Conducting complete systems checks before and after each flight, including all electrical systems and lights
- They may check equipment in control towers as well
Most professionals who work as avionics technicians receive medical and dental coverage from their employees and other benefits.
One of the big reasons this is included on this list of the best jet aviation jobs and aviation maintenance jobs is also because of the high level of reported satisfaction among people in this position.
According to PayScale.com, most avionics technicians report that they enjoy their work and they have a great sense of job satisfaction.
Among aviation maintenance jobs, the role of an avionics technician has a relatively strong earning potential, particularly compared to the level of training required.
According to PayScale.com, the hourly rate for avionics technicians working in the U.S. ranges from $15.75 an hour to $29.81 an hour, with the median hourly pay rate being just over $22.58. Earnings are most heavily affected by the specific employer, but also relevant are location and experience level.
With that hourly rate, the yearly total pay ranges from $30,457 to $68,600.
Flight Mechanic Review
The position of flight mechanic, one of the top aviation maintenance jobs on this ranking of jet aviation jobs and aviation security jobs, is also known as an aircraft mechanic or a service technician. In general, flight mechanics take care of the maintenance and troubleshooting of aircraft throughout to make sure they stay in good condition and operate without problems or issues.
Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Aviation Careers
Among aviation security jobs, aviation maintenance jobs, and general careers in aviation, flight mechanic is included in this ranking for reasons like the ones listed below.
Some of the positions on this ranking of jobs in aviation and the top careers in aviation require at a minimum a bachelor’s degree, but being a flight mechanic doesn’t. It was essential that we include a variety of aviation jobs for varying skill levels and education backgrounds, which is why this is relevant.
To become an aircraft mechanic, professionals usually have to have experience in repair work and using tools, and they have to hold Federal Aviation Administration certifications to do certain specialized work, but they aren’t required to have a bachelor’s degree.
Other than that, the FAA outlines pretty minimal requirements, including the ability to pass certain tests and be at least 18 years old.
BLS estimates there will be at least a bit of growth in the need for flight mechanic through 2024, and there will be the greatest amount of opportunities for those people with their A&P certification.
This refers to the Airframe & Powerplant License.
Professionals with this certification not only have greater prospects regarding jet aviation jobs and aviation maintenance jobs, but they also tend to be very satisfied with their career. According to Payscale.com, job satisfaction for professionals with the A&P License is very high. Some of the popular cities for this position include Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles.
Some of the most popular companies to work for as a flight mechanic, one of the top aviation industry jobs, include Boeing, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines.
The salary for an aircraft mechanic or service technician ranges from an hourly rate of $15.14 to $33.12 according to PayScale.com. There are often opportunities for overtime and profit sharing, and the total pay ranges from $31,363 to $74,988.
Experience level has a pretty significant impact on pay for this particular pick for one of the top careers in aviation. As someone advances toward their later career level, which is more than 20 years’ experience, pay can go up significantly.
Conclusion—Top 6 Best Aviation Jobs
Jobs in the aviation industry are widely varied in terms of experience level required, pay, demands, and overall skill requirements, but they have some things in common. The aviation industry continues to grow and also to offer exciting opportunities to professionals who are part of it.
Some of the top considerations we accounted for when creating this ranking of jobs in aviation, ranging from aviation engineering jobs to aviation security jobs and aviation maintenance jobs included:
- Required education level for the position
- Training required
- Job growth or demand
- Job satisfaction rates from people currently in these positions
- Potential for advancement
It’s our hope that this ranking of the best aviation jobs and the leading jobs in the aviation industry will serve as a valuable guide to people as they’re beginning their aviation job search or just trying to research opportunities and aviation jobs in more depth.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.