Aviation & airport jobs and careers

The Aviation industry comprises of three sub-industries:

• Airlines (both landside and airside)
• Airports (both landside and airside)
• Ground handling (majority airside but some landside presence)

The 2010 Labour Force Survey shows 107,800 people working in aviation in 2,025 businesses. These people work in a diverse range of occupations. Some people are employed in highly skilled and technical job roles such as pilots and air traffic control. There are also many customer service type roles including passenger check in and support, terminal and airport management and cabin crew. As well as this a large number of people work in ground services undertaking tasks such as baggage and cargo handling, aircraft preparation and flight planning. The three sub-industries work closely and sometimes overlap, to ensure the journey of the passenger (and their luggage) move smoothly from one airport to another.

There are two parts to an airport: “landside”, which are the public areas before immigration control and “airside” refers to the transit areas after immigration control. In the aviation industry, some jobs are based landside only, some airside only and many occur in both. Security clearance and passes are needed to go airside and are strictly enforced.

Career opportunities and skills needed

Career opportunities

There are a host of job opportunities within aviation and the three sub-industries; airlines, airports and ground handling. From front facing roles dealing with passengers either at the airport or on board the aircraft, there are opportunities to move into supervisory and management roles. Training to develop skills needed are offered in the workplace through on the job training and learning. Employees often study for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or national equivalents and other vocational qualifications. Employees may also receive in house training on both internal and external courses.

As the aviation industry is international in terms of its business, there are opportunities to work all over the world. For most entry level roles, there are no specific academic requirements other than a sound basic education. This usually means that applicants are expected to have GCSEs at grades A-C (or equivalent) in English and Maths. The only exceptions to this are for air traffic control and pilot jobs, where A levels are usually preferred before applicants are accepted for training.

All applicants for aviation industry roles undergo criminal records bureau checks and certain criminal offences can prevent employment in the industry. The requirements for criminal records checks are available from individual employers.

Skills needed

The aviation industry requires people with good generic skills. Such skills include problem solving, team working, communication, people management, information technology and organisational skills. Other useful skills include health and safety, languages and first aid. Qualifications or experience in travel and tourism related areas are also valuable. For customer-facing roles, any previous customer service work is also a useful asset. For any roles, the ability to follow instructions, keep to schedules and adhere to regulations is also important.