What Can You Do with a Degree in Aviation?


What Can You Do with a Degree in Aviation?

It’s been more than a century since the Wright brothers made the first powered flight in 1903, but the possibility of landing a career in aviation is just as thrilling today as it was then. If you’re looking to chart a career in the aviation industry, now is a great time to do it.

“It’s an exciting time for aviation both nationally and globally,” said Ken Carson, director of the OU PACS Department of Aviation. “The outlook for employment going forward is outstanding.”

According to the 2016 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, the industry will need to supply more than two million new aviation personnel—617,000 commercial airline pilots, 679,000 maintenance technicians and 814,000 cabin crew—between now and 2035. Carson said the Federal Aviation Administration also forecasts hiring between 900 and 1,500 new air traffic controllers per year for the next 10 years.

Pilots are being added for several reasons, including a surge in the number of retiring pilots, Carson said.

“Retirements at the major legacy carriers are a large factor due to the fact that there was major airline hiring in the mid-1980s for a 10-year period,” Carson said. “These pilots are now hitting a large retirement bubble.”

The industry will need to supply more than two million new aviation personnel between now and 2035.

Global economic expansion and the mobility of society and business worldwide are other factors leading to a need for more pilots. As airlines add new aircraft to fleets to meet the increased demand, cabin crews, maintenance, logistics and administration are also required to keep organizations running.

“We see growth projections in all of the job areas which support aviation,” Carson said. “Many of our air traffic management graduates find good jobs outside of air traffic control in other aviation-related fields.”

While the job market appears to be advantageous for those seeking careers in aviation, the list of job options in the industry is also expanding.

Possible careers include flight instructors, as well as pilots for commercial and private airlines, the government, agricultural industry and special operations. Other opportunities include air traffic controllers, FAA staff, aircraft sales representatives, aircraft insurance actuaries, aircraft leasing representatives, flight and aviation safety positions and air freight companies, as well as aviation managers, dispatchers, and customer support and service personnel.

Emerging areas in the industry include unmanned vehicle systems (drones) operations and management, technology adaption and computer system management, and social media for airlines and aircraft organizations.

With the current state of the economy, aviation students have an excellent chance of finding employment in all facets of the field. Carson said PACS aviation students have a distinct advantage because of the program’s broad-based curriculum, which provides nearly every graduate with a minor in business.

“Employers find our students very well qualified for entry-level positions,” he said. “This is a fantastic time to be entering the aviation field.”

Learn more about the aviation degree options offered through the OU PACS Department of Aviation.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.