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Careers in aviation extend well beyond the typical jobs of piloting and cabin crew that often spring to mind. In this article, Jainita Hogervorst  , Director of Dubai-based Aviation Consultancy Aerviva, which provides aviation recruitment and document management services, highlights 3 non-pilot careers in aviation that are currently in demand. Most importantly, she shares her expertise on how you can start a career in these fields.

Growing demand across our sector

The ever-growing demand for pilots and cabin crew since the COVID 19 pandemic has been well documented. However, there are many other roles that require more skilled professionals, argues Jainita. “Strong growth is forecast in terms of fleet size and passenger numbers. At the same time, we are witnessing some fundamental shifts in how our industry works. Sustainable fuels and advanced technologies, especially AI, will continue to transform our industry.”

“These shifts mean there will be huge job opportunities in our sector, including in some surprising areas,” continues Jainita. Take cyber security. According to research by IMARC, the market for aviation cyber security worldwide will hit US$6.5 billion by 2028, a growth rate of 7.13% per year.  “Aviation management is another field worth considering,” argues Jainita. “Operational optimization is growing in importance, and skilled managers will be vital in supporting this effort. Sustainability is one of the driving forces in this trend.” Airbus estimates that emissions per revenue passenger kilometer have halved in the past 3 decades thanks to improved operational efficiency.

Many other roles in aviation are set to grow in importance. In this article, Jainita will take an in-depth look at 3 in particular: Air Traffic Controller, Aerospace Engineer, and Aviation Maintenance Technician.

Aviation career 1: Air Traffic Controller

“As the aviation industry rebounded after COVID, air traffic controllers found themselves in high demand,” explains Jainita. In 2023, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) inducted 1,500 new air traffic controllers.  It plans to continue onboarding and training controllers, with a goal of adding a further 1,800 controllers this year and 2,000 more in 2025.

“Requirements differ from country to country when it comes to becoming an Air Traffic Controller,” points out Jainita on the subject of how to enter this field. “Obviously, you can enroll in a school that offers a specialized Air Traffic Control study programme. Alternatively, with either a bachelor’s degree in a related field like engineering or some professional experience in the industry, you can convert to Air Traffic Control.   The first step is to take a standardized aptitude test like the FEAST test in Europe.”  In any case you will have to conduct specialized training from an accredited institution. In the case of Eurocontrol in Europe, this training takes roughly 3 years.

Aviation Career 2: Aerospace Engineer

“Aerospace Engineers design, test and assess cutting-edge aircraft and spacecraft,” explains Jainita. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Aerospace Engineers is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031 . “Airlines, driven by sustainability goals, will be renewing their fleets,” says Jainita. According to Airbus, only 25% of the current fleet in service are of the latest generation of fuel efficiency.   “The pace of fleet renewal will increase, and this should drive up demand for engineers,” concludes Jainita.

“If your goal is to work in Aerospace Engineering, at school you should focus on subjects like math, physics, chemistry, and programming,” she advises. “Good language proficiency will also be helpful.” Then a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related engineering field is a must. There are 64 major US colleges offering Aerospace Engineering as a Major , and hundreds of options across Europe and Asia. “Once you have completed your undergraduate studies, you have two potential routes,” explains Jainita. “Graduate programs can unlock access to higher-level positions. Alternatively, you can start working immediately, often via an apprenticeship.” Higher positions in aerospace engineering may also require an additional professional license, such as the Professional Engineer (PE) license in the US.

Aviation Career 3: Maintenance Technician

“Aviation Maintenance Technicians perform a range of tasks, from repairing malfunctioning parts, to handling mechanical and electrical issues and performing routine inspections,” explains Jainita. “And these professionals are in very high demand.” According to the FAA, 38% of the maintenance technicians currently working in the US are 60 years old or over.  Boeing forecasts that 610,000 new technicians will be needed by 2041 . “Some professionals were retired during the pandemic, which is currently putting pressure on staffing numbers,” explains Jainita.

This career path has an exciting future, says Jainita. “This field has seen high levels of digitalization. Aircraft diagnostics relies heavily on computers, while technologies including drones and VR are seeing wider adoption in MRO.” The high focus on safety means being an Aviation Maintenance Technician requires certification. These certificates range from entry-level competence up to specific expertise.

For example, the EASA’s Part-66 Category A license will qualify you to carry out scheduled line maintenance and rectify simple defects, while a B3 license qualifies you to carry out maintenance on an airplane’s structure and systems, including mechanical and electrical systems.  “One route for gaining your certification is through accredited technical schools,” explains Jainita. There are a number of accredited technical schools available – look for FAA approval in the US and accordance with Regulation EASA Part-147 in the EU. “A second route is to pursue on-the-job training,” says Jainita. For example, Swiss Air offers 4-year polymechanic and automation apprenticeships for school leavers.   “After a certain time period, which varies by country, you’ll be able to take an exam and become a certified technician.    If you choose this route, be careful to record your experience, including the tools and materials you work with and aircraft types,” counsels Jainita.

“And in terms of graduates applying for positions, my number one tip is to do thorough research on the airline you are applying to,” says Jainita. “For example, find out which aircraft service, both now an in the future.” For example, KLM specifies knowledge in 777, 787 and A330 aircraft as required, but also highlights the fact that it will require specialist for the A320 and A350 in the future.  “Showcasing your knowledge of the latest regulatory developments will also work in your favour,” comments Jainita.

A bright future for aviation professionals

“These 3 in-demand professions are just the tip of the iceberg,” concludes Jainita. “As I have mentioned, careers in cyber security and aviation management have huge potential, and there are many more besides. It is also worth remembering that once you are working in aviation, there are lots of possibilities to retrain or make horizontal career moves.