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A Future in Aviation
By Amber Gragert
Aspiring pilots wanted! When the Wright brothers took flight in 1903, the thought of air travel intrigued the world - defying gravity and exploring new horizons was a thing of dreams. Since then it has become a pillar in today's culture and lifestyle, not only as a means of transportation, but also of commerce. Adventure awaits when majoring in aviation; as well as comfortable salaries, in careers that soar above many others.
If your goal is to become a pilot, then majoring in aviation is an obvious benefit and stepping stone into that career. There are a couple types of pilots: Air transport pilots fly commercial planes that transport and carry passenger and cargo. Charter pilots do the same but typically fly smaller planes and shorter distances. Another career in aviation would be air traffic control; they have the extremely necessary and stressful task of micromanaging incoming flights at airports. This job requires additional training through the Federal Aviation Administration and is sometimes offered as part of certain degree coursework.
A degree is not necessary to become a pilot but most pilots do hold one. Keep in mind that these aren’t the only jobs available in this line of work. There are lots of moving parts in the aviation sector and you could be part of any of them by majoring in aviation. The FAA states that there are five non-flying jobs to every one pilot in the sky.
There is the traditional coursework to complete and also hands-on learning through internships when studying aviation. You'll study topics like air transportation regulations, repair materials/tools, airplane techniques, aircraft blueprints, etc. There are a couple of degree options also: an Associate of Science or a Bachelor of Science. Undergraduate degree programs in aviation are available in areas like aeronautics, aviation business management, aviation mechanics, aviation safety factors and pilot training. The bachelors program often includes courses in airport planning, aviation safety factors, business ethics, economics, financial analysis for managers and law.
Characteristics and skills for success with an aviation degree include: team player, logical thinking, sharp focus, ability to follow procedures, quick decision making skills, confidence and a balanced ego. The ability to perform well under (sometimes extreme) pressure is especially important for pilots and air traffic controllers specifically.
As expressed above, not all aviation majors go on to become pilots. There are many avenues one could take and all make up the well-oiled machine that is aviation. Upon earning a degree, you become eligible for many opportunities in the air-travel sector.
Job opportunities include:
- Air Traffic Controller
- Airline Executive
- Airline Manager
- Aviation Operations Coordinator
- Aviation Safety Specialist
- Commercial Pilot:
- Air Transport or Charter Flight
- FBO Management
- Flight Instructor
- Instructor Military Pilot