How to Get Jobs at Airports

Guides · 7 min read · May 04, 2022
How to Get Jobs at Airports

For many of us, at some point in our lives, an airport could seem like an ideal place to work at. For some, especially while taking the very first steps in the early days of their career, such a place could seem so romantic, it would not even matter that much, which job exactly they would take – as long as it would involve working at the airport.

Even a lot of Aeroclass instructors, who now are prominent figures in global aviation, recall the beginning of their journey in the aerospace industry by getting any job at the airport – just out of pure fascination while being charmed by the magic of the place where planes take people to faraway places.

Still, to this day more and more people pursue their dream in the same way. And do so while overcoming even the obvious doubts. Doubts that usually are unavoidable while taking such steps in their career – as most jobs at the airport have the same evident shortcomings.

There are a lot of different airport jobs

Yet, as virtually any airport has tens or usually even hundreds of different positions, some of them, such as air traffic controllers or airport baggage handlers, are very airport-specific.

Others, such as the positions of vendors or salespersons, can be found anywhere else, while some jobs, for example, involve working for airport authorities, or airlines do not even involve work, related to physically being at the airport all the time.

However, we will also get to this kind of position while explaining how to get one of such airport jobs. So below we are about to explain how to get the most popular, most demanded, and easiest-to-get airport jobs.

An air traffic control tower and an aircraft approaching the airport to land.

1. Jobs in air traffic control

Modern air traffic control is a complex apparatus that involves the collaboration of specialists from different areas – as well as those performing many distinct ancillary duties.

However, a core profession in this area, representatives of which often consist of the majority of personnel at the most basic air traffic control tower, is, of course, the profession of the air traffic controller.

An air traffic controller is usually a highly-qualified specialist, yet, in most jurisdictions that doesn’t necessarily mean having a higher education diploma, let alone an associate or bachelor’s degree. A high school diploma is usually enough for such an airport career job.

What do you need to get this airport job?

The requirements for an air traffic controller also vary highly from country to country, but there are a few of them that are more common than others.

For example, to get an airport job as an air traffic controller, one must be able to successfully pass a security investigation, and, of course, a health examination.

Another common requirement is related to the ability to speak clear English, and that means that your pronunciation should be good enough to be perfectly understood over all kinds of communication equipment.

In the United States, for example, a candidate for an air traffic controller position should ‘have three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor’s degree, or a combination of post-secondary education and work experience that totals three years”, while also be able to and willing to relocate to an FAA facility based on agency staffing needs.

There is also an age limitation if you are willing to pursue one of those airport jobs in the US, as, according to the FAA, a candidate for an air traffic controller position should “be age 30 or under on the closing date of the application period”. So, if you will wait too long, you can literally miss one of such job opportunities.

Is such an occupation in high demand right now?

It depends on who you ask. The obvious fact being the circumstance that there will always be the need for air traffic controllers, the current report from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates, that the employment of air traffic controllers is projected to grow by 4% from 2020 to 2030, which is significantly slower than the average for all occupations.

Two flight attendants walking down a terminal building at an airport.

2. Want to become a flight attendant?

No commercial air travel could be imagined without stewards and stewardesses, the representatives of this occupation are also the ones who tend to stand out from all the crowd you usually see at the airport. 

It is one of the most customer service-oriented professions in the context of both airline as well as airport jobs and could be very attractive for those who love air travel, or even dealing with passengers while being totally flexible in their schedules – and could have even put on hold the pursuit for the associate or bachelor’s degree.

What does it take to get such an airport career job?

The specific characteristics of the candidate’s physical appearance, such as minimum height, are becoming more and more obsolete when talking about flight attendant jobs, however, there are still plenty of airlines that have one or two of those even today.

That being said, the specific requirements for such airline job candidates can vary widely from airline to airline. If it is not listed publicity be an employer, you can find what such airport jobs require at one or another internet forum related to airline jobs – or even some more general discussion board.

What should you begin with if you want to become a flight attendant?

To get started, it is often best to decide which airline you want to work at. It could be a big, well-known name in commercial aviation or you could prefer to settle for either a smaller airline or the one which covers more different routes.

That could be an option if you want to apply for an airline job by choosing the carrier which covers your local airport. 

That way, you would have more chances to visit your home more frequently, however, you’d probably not expect to stay home a lot anyway if being a flight attendant sounds to you like a dream job.

You can also start by visiting some career fair

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that some airlines – especially the most international ones, which operate through different legal entities in different countries and jurisdictions, hire some or all the airline employees not directly – but rather through recruiting firms or hiring agencies.

Either way, another great opportunity to start your job search for the position of cabin crew for those bigger airlines could be any aviation, travel, or customer-service-related job fair. So do not forget to check out the ones which are happening near you soon.

And how high is the demand for an average flight attendant?

In fact, it is high enough and is projected to grow even further at a very fast pace. In the United States alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed flight attendants is expected to grow 30% from 2020 to 2030. That is, of course, much faster than the average for all other professions.

Two airline pilots in a cockpit, ready for take off.

3. There is also a possibility to consider becoming one of the airline pilots

While being virtually the most demanding of all the airport career jobs, the occupation of the commercial airline pilot is also among the most well-paid.

However, it also requires a lot of time to become qualified for even an opportunity to apply for some entry-level job title openings.

That is because to qualify as a commercial pilot, one must usually gain at least 1500 flight hours – in no more than two years – contrary to a minimum of only 40 hours which are enough to apply for a commercial pilot license.

It becomes even harder when talking about aircraft cargo pilots. That is because, contrary to virtually any other job at an airport, they usually should be able to operate a more complex multi-engine aircraft to even get an answer from call to one of such job openings.

Not to mention all other aspects of professional training, qualification, various certifications, health and security screenings, and many more.

The demand for airline pilots, however, is also very high – and that applies to virtually any country or jurisdiction. It is also projected to grow at a double-digit percentage in the next few years.

4. But why not become a ticketing agent?

Another chance to work at the airport and represent some well-known airline at the same time could be found in gate agent-related job opportunities.

While such a job is obviously a bit harder than it may seem at first glance, as it requires standing for long stretches, dealing with not-always-pleasant situations, and lifting heavy checked-in bags, it is one of the few jobs for airlines which almost never require leaving your home for much longer than a working shift takes.

5. Do not forget about such jobs as the aircraft technician

If you can see yourself performing aircraft maintenance, plane or helicopter repair works, or at least diagnosing mechanical or electrical problems to successfully identify and replace defective parts, keep in mind that the job of the aircraft mechanic or avionics technician is also the one which often involves spending your working day at the airport.

Of course, that depends on your exact occupation as there are generally three types of plane technicians.

The first one is known as airframe and powerplant mechanic, which, in English-speaking parts of the world is usually abbreviated as A&P.

The second is called an inspection authorization endorsed mechanic, or IA. The third type, at least in the US, is the mechanic at the FAA certificated repair station.

An aircraft technician performing maintenance work on an aircraft wing.

Generally (as that also varies a little, depending on the jurisdiction), after gaining at least 18 months of on-the-job experience working as an A&P, one can qualify for working as an aircraft maintenance technician. Among other career opportunities, that also gives such a person the possibility to apply for a job at the airport.

And what are the responsibilities?

An aircraft maintenance technician is usually responsible for aircraft technical inspection and evaluation, which involves reviewing safety checklists, updating maintenance records, and documenting any problems with the plane according to the strict guidelines.

Paperwork aside, according to the  National Aviation Academy, “aviation mechanics are responsible for inspecting the entire aircraft including; engines, instruments, gauges, landing gear, pressurized areas, accessories like brakes, air-conditioning, pumps, valves, among many other things.”

It is also stated that “mechanics are to fix, maintain or replace parts of the aircraft and these are done to the highest standards. They also conduct detailed inspections between take-offs and landings. Aircraft mechanics and technicians are required to document repairs and maintain all maintenance records of the aircraft they oversee. “

Speaking about details, such include “the number of hours an aircraft has been in flight, number of days since the last inspection, operation cycles, and various other aspects. They also need to address and divulge problems or discrepancies described by pilots.”

What about other jobs at the airport?

Besides such airport-specific career opportunities, a place that great of course has something for everyone, who wishes to pursue virtually any customer service or building-maintenance-related job title.

As there are, indeed, many airport jobs – from food service workers or retail sales specialists to janitors or some other job which can be found at any local mall – this is the place with some career opportunity – or just a simple job to offer virtually for everyone.

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Erlend Diagilev
Sharing his passion for aviation for many years, today Erlend does his best to provide you with the most recent and compelling industry-related content in the most attractive and comprehensive way.

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