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Major in Aviation

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

Ecclesiastes 3:22 “I saw there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.”  

Aviation has come a long way since Wilbur Wright watched his brother Orville take to the skies in 1903. The field of aviation now extends into not only the operation of aircraft, but also the design and development of that aircraft and all activities surrounding air travel.  It is a massive, ever-developing industry

The word aviation is derived from the Latin word avis meaning “bird.” This fitting description taps into the longing for flight felt within humanity for centuries. Anne Morrow Lindberg described it as “the fundamental magic of flying.” And aircraft design pioneer Igor Sikorsky said, “Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle.” Perhaps you resonate with these quotes.              

But what are some of the diverse career options available in the aviation field?  The one that comes to mind most commonly is pilot. But even this role is diverse in that it can include military or missionary pilot; private, regional, government or national airline pilot. In addition, you might consider:

  • Manufacturing engineer.  This highly technical job focuses on the development and installation of various aircraft systems. It may require extensive on-the-job training or the oversight of an engineer team in a factory setting.
  • Electrical installer or maintenance technician. In these areas of specialty the focus is on repair and trouble shooting of equipment/ systems and developing and modifying electric components.
  • Operations manager. This is basically the business end of the industry and focuses on the oversight of economics, public relations, personnel, airline property and regulations.
  • Air traffic controller. These individuals work in airline control towers to direct air traffic and keep in direct communication with pilots to ensure safety from take-off to landing.
  • Quality control. Essentially these are the testers and graders who inspect parts and materials on an assembly line. They use advanced tools and technology to perform safety tests and are concerned with high standards of accuracy.

By way of degree expectations, your major will include sixty-plus class hours from a broad base of subjects including social sciences, humanities, mathematics and physical sciences. Once fully immersed in your program you will take courses like Intro to Aeronautics, Aviation Law and Transport Category Systems to educate you in the history and inner workings of the airline industry. If you desire to be a pilot, you will receive two months of ground training and be required to log a minimum of 1,500 flight hours.

So what skills and innate traits are necessary to pursue a career in aviation? A strong background in math and science is a high priority since aviation programs are tough and technical by nature. Because employees in this field usually work with a larger team of aviation specialists all dedicated to careful handling of human life, these additional strengths are extremely important:

  • Detail attentiveness
  • Decisive, clear-headed thinking
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Commitment and integrity

Helen Keller once wrote, “It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountain of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.” If the concept of air transport sparks joy and passion in you then a career in aviation may be just what God has planned for you!

 

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