The Various Careers in Aviation Beyond Being a Pilot

Aug 22, 2023

Imagine the thrilling sensation of defying gravity, your heart soaring as you take to the skies. You’re piloting the aircraft.

Yes, learning to fly is an exhilarating adventure and it opens up a world of possibilities and aviation career opportunities. But, being an airline pilot isn’t the only job out there to consider. Whether you’re already a licensed pilot or aspiring to become one, this guide will highlight some additional, exciting career paths in the aviation industry.

So, are you ready to spread your wings and ascend to new heights? Buckle up and get ready to explore the many thrilling aviation career options that await you!

Aviation Careers Galore!

As you check out the sampler of careers in the aviation industry below, you may notice some common threads.

  1. These are all highly-skilled jobs that require training and sometimes even certification.
  2. Currently in the US, we’re suffering a serious shortage of qualified workers for many, if not most, of these kinds of positions. Aviation pros are in high demand.
  3. Talented and experienced professionals are needed in these roles because they’re what keeps the systems moving as safely, securely, and efficiently as possible.
  4. Professionals in these lucrative career fields often enjoy job stability, growth, and the chance to work with cutting-edge technology in the industry they love.
  5. While we’re featuring civilian opportunities, many of these jobs also exist along governmental or military career paths as well.

This is why aviation careers can be so diverse and rewarding! It’s also why you can puddle-jump your way through a truly exciting and meaningful professional life from entry-level to retirement.

Oh, and you’ll find these jobs for both airplanes and helicopters. Your talents as a plane or chopper pilot will be put to good use, though not all positions mentioned below require you to have a PPL or CPL.

Careers in the Aviation Industry - working on the helicopter

Aircraft Maintenance & Repair

This crucial field within the aviation industry helps ensure the safety and functionality of aircraft.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

Aircraft maintenance and repair positions are well suited to individuals who have a passion for aviation and a knack for problem-solving.

  • Strong understanding of aircraft systems, mechanics, and electronics
  • Attention to detail
  • Technical aptitude
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Completion of a recognized training program
  • Certification/licensing

Examples of Aircraft Maintenance & Repair Jobs

Aircraft will always need upkeep and fixing so you’ll find a wide range of job opportunities. 

  • Aircraft mechanics perform routine inspections, repairs, and maintenance on aircraft engines, systems, and structures.
  • Avionics technicians focus on the electrical systems and instruments of aircraft, diagnosing and repairing any malfunctions.
  • Aircraft inspectors ensure that all maintenance work meets regulatory standards and perform quality checks to ensure aircraft airworthiness.
  • Aircraft sheet metal mechanics repair and fabricate metal parts of an aircraft, including wings, fuselage, and control surfaces.

Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Control (ATC), a vital component of the aviation industry, is responsible for the safe and efficient flow of air traffic.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

This career field requires individuals who can handle high-stress situations, have excellent communication skills, and possess a strong attention to detail.

  • Ability to multitask and make quick decisions under pressure
  • Excellent communication and listening skills
  • Strong problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to work in a high-stress environment
  • Knowledge of aviation regulations and procedures
  • Completion of an FAA-approved ATC training program

Examples of Air Traffic Control Jobs

ATC professionals play a crucial role in guiding aircraft during takeoff, landing, and en-route phases of flight.

  • Air traffic controllers are responsible for providing instructions to pilots, including guidance on altitude, speed, and route changes, to ensure the safe separation of aircraft.
  • ATC managers oversee the operations of an ATC facility, ensuring compliance with regulations and managing a team of controllers.
  • ATC training specialists develop and deliver training programs for aspiring air traffic controllers, ensuring they have the necessary skills and knowledge.
  • ATC system engineers are responsible for the design, implementation, and maintenance of air traffic control systems, including radar and communication equipment.

The Various Careers in Aviation Beyond Being a Pilot - flying airplane

Flight Operations

Flight operations professionals work behind the scenes to help ensure the smooth and efficient operation of flights. They coordinate schedules, plan routes, and oversee logistics.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

Professionals in flight operations need to be organized, communicative, and detail-oriented. They should also be able to remain level-headed in a fast-paced, sometimes chaotic environment.

  • Strong administrative and planning skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure and make quick decisions
  • Attention to detail and problem-solving abilities
  • Knowledge of aviation regulations and procedures
  • Familiarity with flight planning software and systems

Examples of Flight Operations Jobs

Flight operations professionals work closely with pilots, air traffic controllers, and other aviation professionals to ensure safe and efficient flights.

  • Flight dispatchers are responsible for planning flight routes, monitoring weather conditions, and providing critical information to pilots during flights.
  • Flight coordinators schedule flights, liaise with ground crew, and ensure seamless operations before and after flights.
  • Scheduling coordinators manage crew schedules, including assigning shifts and enforcing compliance with regulations.
  • Operations analysts evaluate flight data, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to optimize flight operations.
  • Ramp coordinators choreograph ground operations, including aircraft loading and unloading, fueling, and maintenance activities.

Aviation Administration & Management

Aviation administration and management involves overseeing the operations and management of airports, airlines, charter and cargo companies, and other aviation businesses.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

Professionals in this field should possess robust leadership qualities and know how to gain and maintain order in dynamic environments.

  • Proven decision-making skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Program and project management competencies
  • Capable of handling complex logistics and financial management
  • Good understanding of aviation regulations and procedures

Examples of Aviation Administration & Management Jobs

Aviation administration and management workers are responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of various departments and implementing effective strategies to improve efficiency and safety.

  • Aviation managers are responsible for overseeing aviation organization operations, including budget management, staff supervision, and strategic planning.
  • Airport managers handle administrative functions and coordinate all aspects of airport operations, including safety and security, facility maintenance, and customer service.
  • Aviation safety inspectors conduct inspections and audits to ensure compliance with aviation safety regulations, identify potential hazards, and recommend corrective actions.
  • Airline operations managers oversee airline operations, including flight scheduling, crew management, and customer service, to ensure efficient and safe operations.
  • Aviation human resources managers run the HR departments of aviation organizations, including recruitment, training, and employee relations.

The Various Careers in Aviation Beyond Being a Pilot - teaching the engineering behind airplanes

Aviation Sciences

Aviation sciences encompasses a wide range of scientific disciplines related to aviation, including aerospace engineering, meteorology, and aviation physiology.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

Careers in aviation sciences require a strong scientific background, analytical skills, and a passion for advancing aviation technology and safety. 

  • Solid knowledge of physics, mathematics, and engineering principles
  • Proficiency in data analysis and statistical modeling
  • Strong problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills
  • Understanding of aviation systems and technologies
  • Familiarity with aviation regulations and safety standards

Examples of Aviation Sciences Jobs

Careers in this field involve conducting research, analyzing data, and applying scientific principles to enhance aviation safety and efficiency.

  • Aerospace engineers design, develop, and test aircraft and spacecraft. They’re responsible for creating innovative designs, improving performance, and ensuring compliance with safety standards.
  • Meteorologists study weather patterns and provide forecasts to support flight planning and operations. They analyze atmospheric conditions, predict severe weather events, and advise pilots on the best routes to avoid turbulence or storms.
  • Aviation physiologists study the effects of flight on the human body. They research topics like altitude sickness, oxygen systems, and cabin pressurization to ensure the well-being of pilots and passengers.
  • Aviation data analysts collect and analyze flight data to identify trends, improve operational efficiency, and enhance safety. They use statistical modeling and data visualization techniques to derive insights and make recommendations for improvement.
  • Flight test engineers evaluate aircraft performance and systems during test flights. They design and conduct experiments, analyze data, and provide recommendations for improvements to aircraft design and performance.

Aviation Law & Regulation

Aviation law and regulation deals with the legal and regulatory aspects of the aviation industry.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

If you want to excel in this field, you have to be dedicated, meticulous, and have advanced reasoning and logic capabilities.

  • Solid understanding of aviation laws, regulations, and industry standards
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Strong written and verbal communication abilities
  • Attention to detail
  • Organizational skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Degree and licensing to practice law

Examples of Aviation Law & Regulation Jobs

Professionals in this field ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations and work to protect the rights and interests of aviation organizations, employees, and customers.

  • Aviation attorneys provide legal advice and representation to aviation organizations and individuals in matters such as contracts, liability issues, and regulatory compliance.
  • Compliance managers ensure that aviation organizations adhere to regulatory requirements and industry standards and implement effective compliance programs.
  • Aviation policy analysts conduct research and analysis to assess the impact of aviation policies and regulations and provide recommendations for regulatory changes.
  • Aviation regulatory specialists monitor and interpret aviation laws and regulations and provide guidance on compliance and regulatory issues.

Careers in the Aviation Industry - helicopter

Flight Instruction

Flight instruction is all about training individuals to become pilots and providing ongoing instruction to pilots for advanced certifications and ratings.

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

Flight instructors should have a strong knowledge of aviation principles and aircraft operations and be good with people.

  • Thorough understanding of aviation practices, regulations, and safety procedures
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to effectively teach and mentor students
  • Patience and adaptability
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure

Examples of Flight Instruction Jobs

Flight instructors provide ground and flying lessons as well as evaluate and assess student progress.

  • Simulator instructors guide students through simulated flight scenarios, helping them practice and develop their skills in a controlled environment.
  • Instrument rating instructors specialize in teaching students how to fly using only instruments, providing instruction on navigation, communication, and instrument procedures.
  • Multi-engine instructors train students in flying multi-engine aircraft, teaching them the skills and techniques specific to these types of aircraft.
  • Flight school managers oversee the operations of a flight training school, ensuring compliance with regulations, managing instructors, and fostering a positive learning environment.

Aviation Sales & Marketing

Like businesses in any other sector, the aviation industry needs people to promote its products and services and engage with interested parties (like students or customers).

Skills & Qualifications You Might Need

Having an in-depth awareness of the aviation industry and market trends is a must. Knowing how to actually fly a helicopter or plane may be helpful or necessary, depending on your job description.

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Analytical and strategic thinking abilities to identify market opportunities
  • Aviation and product/service knowledge

Examples of Aviation Sales & Marketing Jobs

Developing and implementing marketing strategies to attract customers and increase sales is all in a day’s work. Professionals in this field drive business growth and maintain customer relationships.

  • Aviation marketing managers create and roll out marketing plans to increase brand recognition and generate leads. They also manage and analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.
  • Business development managers identify and pursue new business opportunities, develop partnerships, and negotiate contracts to expand the company’s customer base.
  • Aviation sales specialists promote aviation products and services to potential customers to meet sales targets.
  • Sales support coordinators assist the sales team in administrative tasks, prepare sales materials, and support customer relationship management efforts.
  • Customer service representatives handle customer inquiries and resolve issues.

Careers in the Aviation Industry - airplane taking flight

Consider a Career in Aviation — the Sky’s the Limit!

Aviation offers a staggering number of non-pilot career opportunities. Whether you have a passion for law, teaching, or business — there’s a place for you in this vast industry. You have your pick of jobs, everything from being a legal professional ensuring compliance with laws and regulations to owning an air cargo outfit that transports goods around the world.

Explore these fields further and consider a career in aviation, where onwards and upwards is the only way to go! If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.