Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Nonflying Aerospace Careers
10 dynamic career fields worth considering
3 AIRLINE DISPATCH: In principle, the pilot always is responsible for safely completing any flight, and that’s certainly true of airline captains. In practice, with transoceanic international flights of 12+ hours, the captain needs help to contend with unexpected weather, winds and other problems en route. That’s where airline dispatchers come in, sharing responsibility with the captain for initiating scheduled flights, and releasing flights to crews based on weather conditions at the departure and destination airports. Dispatchers are required to pass an examination comparable in most respects to that required for the airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate required of airline pilots; hours for dispatchers are limited by federal regulations. Joseph Miceli, president of the Airline Dispatcher Federation (and a 23-year veteran of United Airlines), told us there are about 5,000 licensed airline dispatchers in the U.S., and more internationally. He calls the outlook for the field “kind of a steady situation—airlines are trying to save jobs wherever possible, avoiding layoffs through attrition. You still need a proper number of dispatchers for flight following.” Salaries can run from $20,000 to $40,000 for new hires at regional airlines, while, according to Miceli, “The majors start at $50,000, and can go to six figures with experience.”
5 AVIATION/AIRPORT MANAGEMENT: Aviation/airport managers take care of the business side of aviation. According to University of North Dakota Professor Kim Kenville, “The job comes down to managing people.” A four-year degree is required, and entry-level pay is in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, increasing to six figures with experience. Kenville says that airport hiring has slowed, but jobs are still available—particularly at consulting firms, which handle issues including runway, ramp and hangar design, airport security and environmental review—driven in part by federal stimulus funds for “shovel-ready” construction projects. Students graduating from UND’s aviation management track currently need “around six months” to find a permanent position, and Kenville believes that’s typical. The odds can be improved by starting with an internship, which she called “readily available,” paying $10 to $15 per hour (frequently subsidized by state departments of transportation). Outside of airports, Kenville says that most business connected to general aviation is slow, including insurance and financing, with the exception of repossessing aircraft whose owners have defaulted on loans.
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