What is this career about?
There are many different career paths in the airline industry, ranging from entry level to careers that require years of advanced experience.
It’s an exciting field, and if you are interested in travel, it could be the right career path for you.
What growth is likely?
In the past, the airline industry has really struggled. Many companies have operated at a loss, or have even folded over the years. In 2008, this began to turnaround. A lot has changed since 2008, and profits stand at just over $5 billion a year for the industry as a whole right now. On average, over 1.5 million people fly every single day in the U.S., and this is a huge number that must lead to profits eventually. As planes become more efficient, fuel costs will be made up for with more ease, and this means even higher profitability. Getting in with the right company is correct, so looking and seeing which airlines are under the best management and which have been posting the best numbers most consistently could be to your advantage if you are worried about job stability. This is data that changes every quarter, but is publicly available and easy to find on the web.
Baggage handlers start out with the lowest pay rate in the industry, they can expect to see about $9 an hour to start out with, but experienced people in this position can make as much as $18 an hour. Attendants make $12 to $14 an hour starting out, with a median salary of as high as $40,000 a year. Some positions can go as high as $60,000 a year, depending on your location and the airline you work with. Ticket and reservation agents make between $9 and $12 an hour, although experienced professionals in this area can make as much as $24 per hour. Things like 401(k)s, health and life insurance, and in some cases, company stock purchase plans, are available to employees. Some may even give free or discounted travel.
This industry has had a history of ups and downs, but as air travel becomes safer and more popular, the industry is poised for another big leap forward. There will need to be many more jobs in this expanding sector, and taking advantage of this early could get you in a good position later on in your career, especially if you have a good work ethic. As the industry expands, more attendants, agents, baggage handlers, mechanics, custodians, pilots, and managers will need to be hired, and that is to the job seeker’s benefit.
How to succeed?
First and foremost, you must have a desire to help people. This goes for any aspect of the job. Flight attendants help keep people comfortable and safe mid-flight, baggage handlers help people by getting their belongings to the desired location safely and efficiently, pilots help people by flying them across hundreds of miles of distance as quickly and safely as they can. If you have this desire, the rest can be learned on the job.
You should have a high school diploma or a GED. Other schooling may give you an edge, but is not a necessity to get started. Still, some of the discipline that is taught in a school setting can translate to success in the air.
Finally, you should have a positive outlook. This is a job that can be frustrating at times. People can get stressed out on an airplane, and even though it’s not your fault, there’s potential for them to treat you as if it were. Being kind and patient are key virtues that set great airline employees apart from good employees.
Who should apply?
Certain positions in the airline industry require years of training. Pilots, for example, need to have formal experience and training to get their jobs. Other positions, like attendants, ticket agents, and baggage handlers, need far less training. For these positions, formal education is not that important, although most airlines do require at least a high school diploma or a GED in order to give you an interview. If you are looking for something more advanced, a college degree can help you to climb the ladder toward a leadership position a little more quickly, but this is not a hard requirement.
Having a good goal in mind when you apply for a position with an airline is a plus. For example, perhaps you want to work as a reservation agent, but there are currently no openings where you have applied. Starting out as a ticket agent can be a good move here as it is a natural career progression to move from one to the other. You may find that other opportunities interest you more as you gain experience, but starting with the right goal in mind, even if it changes, will be helpful at streamlining your career.
Most airlines require you to be at least 18 years old in order to give you a position. Besides this and a high school education, you should also have a passion for traveling and customer service. Most people find flying to be quite stressful, and having a calming demeanor can be a big plus in your favor, especially if you are a quick learner and friendly. Airline employees are typically expected to be trained in emergency procedures, such as CPR, and they must know and comply with FAA regulations. If you are a quick learner, this process will be much easier.
Using these external resources you can gather inside information on what existing employees think of their employers. Which are the best to work for, which offer the best benefits, etc. If you’re looking for a serious career in the airline industry make sure to do your homework before applying for a job!
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