Discover Your Career Potential: An In–Depth Guide to 18 Airport Jobs for All Experience Levels!
Airports can be an exciting place to work with many diverse positions available at major airports across the United States. Airport jobs offer roles for every experience level across a range of duties with employment available through airports, airlines and even private vendors.
In this article, we provide a list of 18 airport jobs across different experience levels and explain each position’s primary duties.
18 airport jobs across experience levels
The airport offers a variety of fulfilling career paths that allow individuals to serve those who are traveling. Here is a list of airport jobs for every experience level, listed from lowest to highest salary:
1. Airline food service worker
National average salary: $31,798 per year
Primary duties: Airline food service workers are responsible for providing customer service and preparing meals for visitors in an airport. These professionals are also responsible for cleaning flight kitchen utensils, equipment and facilities. Typically, the only requirement for this position is a high school diploma or GED, and most training is offered on the job.
2. Passenger assistant
National average salary: $37,148 per year
Primary duties: A passenger assistant is a customer service professional who helps assist travelers at the airport. They handle passenger check-ins, assist with boarding and deplaning and communicate travel information to passengers. This position typically requires a high school diploma or GED and previous customer service experience.
3. Airline baggage handler
National average salary: $38,065 per year
Primary duties: Airport baggage handlers, also known as ramp agents, are responsible for collecting, sorting and checking luggage against flight lists to ensure that the right items go on the right aircraft. These professionals also transfer luggage from check-in areas to departure areas, move luggage to and from the aircraft and load inbound luggage onto conveyors in the arrivals area. In snowy weather, airline baggage handlers will also help keep the runways clear of snow and other debris while helping clean and de-ice the aircraft. This position requires you to have a high school diploma or GED.
Related: How To Become a Ramp Agent (Plus Average Salary)
4. Airline reservation agent
National average salary: $37,283 per year
Primary duties: Airline reservation agents typically work at airport counters, information desks and airline customer service centers in an airport. They greet passengers and help them with their flight reservations. They also provide travelers with information regarding flight dates, schedules, availability and pricing. Candidates must have a high school diploma or GED and previous customer service experience.
5. Avionics technician
National average salary: $39,566 per year
Primary duties: Avionics technicians are responsible for installing, repairing and maintaining equipment related to airplanes, helicopters and other fixed-wing aircraft. These professionals play a vital role in guaranteeing the safety of passengers and crew aboard an aircraft as they are responsible for making sure that all components of the aircraft are clean, functioning properly and do not need any repairs. To become an avionics technician, these professionals must complete an 18-month course offered by an FAA-approved institution.
6. Flight attendant
National average salary: $41,100 per year
Primary duties: Flight attendants ensure passengers’ comfort and safety when in flight. This includes serving refreshments, demonstrating safety features, communicating with the pilot and responding to any emergencies on the flight. Flight attendants are required to have a high school diploma or GED. After an airline has hired a flight attendant, they will be required to complete a three- to six-week formal training program and then apply for a certificate of demonstrated proficiency from the FAA.
7. Air traffic controller
National average salary: $45,511 per year
Primary duties: Air traffic controllers coordinate aircraft traffic in the airfield and along flight paths. Their duties include communicating with pilots, issuing take-off and landing instructions, monitoring aircraft using computer programs and radar and visually surveying the airfield. In the U.S., air traffic controllers are required to be U.S. citizens. This position also requires a bachelor’s degree and successful completion of an FAA course.
8. Aircraft fueler
National average salary: $46,511 per year
Primary duties: Airport fuelers work as part of the airport ground crew, fueling all aircraft according to each airline’s needs. These individuals need to have a good understanding of all the mechanics involved in the fueling process, so a background in mechanics is helpful. Aircraft fuelers also require strength and stamina as they are standing and walking for most of their shift, working in all weather conditions.
9. Airport manager
National average salary: $53,179 per year
Primary duties: Airport managers are responsible for supervising the day-to-day operations of the airport. Some of the tasks airport managers need to complete include planning budgets, managing vendor contracts, managing weather-related delays, handling customer complaints and ensuring FAA compliance. Airport manager positions are typically required to have previous experience in airport security and management. They may also need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, aviation management or a relevant degree field.
National average salary: $55,814 per year
Primary duties: Pilots operate aircraft that transport people and cargo. They are responsible for conducting pre-flight checks, working with air traffic control, assessing and adjusting flight paths and updating passengers on conditions or delays. Pilots can operate private planes or work for regional, national or international airlines. Commercial airline pilots are required to get their Airline Transport Pilot certificate or license while accumulating 1,500 hours of flight time.
11. Aircraft maintenance technician
National average salary: $57,156 per year
Primary duties: Aircraft maintenance technicians are responsible for inspecting and performing or supervising the maintenance, preventative maintenance, repairs and alteration of aircraft and aircraft systems. Individuals must earn an FAA certification, which requires the candidate to attend an aircraft maintenance program from an FAA-approved school or gain at least 18 months of job experience working on airframes. Candidates will also have to pass the FAA’s written, oral and practical exams to earn the license.
12. Airport engineer
National average salary: $58,563 per year
Primary duties: Airport engineers are engineering professionals who specialize in the construction and maintenance of airport structures as well as takeoff and landing areas. They are responsible for researching specifics of the airport location, running tests on different site areas, creating and modeling designs and developing a structurally sound plan for the new airport facility. Most airport engineers have a master’s degree in civil, mechanical or structural engineering with previous experience in these industries.
13. Airport security officer
National average salary: $59,933 per year
Primary duties: Airport security officers are responsible for maintaining the safety and security of the airport. They do this by searching and inspecting baggage by hand and screening passengers and airport staff. They check passenger identification against flight information. At least a high school diploma or GED is required for this position.
14. Airport operations manager
National average salary: $67,158 per year
Primary duties: The airport operations manager works in airports and airfields, coordinating with air traffic controllers, pilots, terminal agents, ground crews and other airport staff to ensure that all aircraft are operating smoothly and in compliance with FAA regulations. This job requires at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, operations management or a relevant degree field. This position also requires five to 10 years of experience in an aviation-related position.
15. Flight dispatcher
National average salary: $67,652 per year
Primary duties: A flight dispatcher is responsible for assisting in the planning of flight paths while taking into account aircraft performance and loading, en-route winds, weather and turbulence forecasts, airspace restrictions and conditions at the airport. These professionals typically work in the operations center for an airline. To become a flight dispatcher, individuals must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which requires them to pass an examination.
16. Aircraft mechanic
National average salary: $69,291 per year
Primary duties: Aircraft mechanics perform repairs as well as preventative and routine maintenance on planes, helicopters and a wide variety of aircraft. This position requires candidates to graduate from an FAA-approved school for aircraft maintenance or gain at least 18 months of on-the-job experience working on airframes. Individuals must also pass the FAA’s written, oral and practical exams to become certified aircraft mechanics.
17. Airport planner
National average salary: $73,008 per year
Primary duties: Airport planners are a type of urban planner who designs and sketches master plans for new airports or renovations of existing airports. These professionals are required to research relevant regulations and perform environmental impact studies to ensure that the facility is compliant and safe. These professionals typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in urban planning, regional planning, architecture or a closely related field.
18. Aeronautical engineer
National average salary: $84,755 per year
Primary duties: Aeronautical engineers are engineering professionals who design aircraft. They are responsible for researching projects to ensure they are feasible within a given budget, evaluating designs to meet customer expectations and government regulations as well as testing their designs to identify any issues. At a minimum, aeronautical engineers need a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, aerospace engineering or a related subject.
Questions To Expect During an Airline Interview (With Tips)
Making it to the interview round for any job is a significant accomplishment. Once you have a chance to meet recruiters and hiring managers in person, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re the right candidate for the job. For aviation jobs, the technical portions of interviews are somewhat self-explanatory, but you may want to learn more about the verbal, competency-based portion of the interview.
In this article, we discuss what to expect during an airline interview, including 10 common questions with sample answers and tips for being successful.
What to expect during an airline interview
The interview is a chance to show the airline’s hiring committee that you are a professional, respectful individual with the charisma and requisite skills to succeed in the job. You may be interviewed by a single individual, though it is most likely that you will be interviewed by a panel of recruiters, hiring managers and internal professionals currently working for the airline.
Interviews for airlines typically include both a technical portion and a verbal portion. The technical portion is similar to a test where you will be asked to perform specific tasks related to the role’s description. For pilots, the technical portion of the interview can include a test on anything from flight performance to meteorology. For other aviation professionals, like flight attendants, the technical portion may be conducted as a group assessment to test your ability to respond to customer requests and emergencies.
The verbal portion of the interview is where you will discuss and demonstrate your competency in various areas to prove that you will be successful if chosen for the role. For airline interviews, the verbal portion typically includes showcasing skills like problem-solving, communication, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, reliability and customer service. In your answers to interview questions, give examples or tell stories of instances when you exhibited these skills in past positions.
It’s a good idea to prepare extensively for the verbal portion of your interview by familiarizing yourself with common questions and coming up with practice answers. Thoughtful planning for your next interview can help you feel confident and prepared to take on the role.
10 common airline interview questions
Here are 10 common questions hiring managers ask candidates in airline interviews with sample answers to help you plan your own responses:
1. What can you tell us about yourself?
This is often one of the first questions asked in an airline interview. Hiring committees may use this type of question to familiarize themselves with your background to better understand how your experience might fit into the role you’re interviewing for. When answering, outline your educational background and any past work experiences that led you to seek this position.
Example answer: “In 2013, I graduated from the University of Minnesota, where I received my bachelor’s degree in hotel, tourism and restaurant management. In the past, I worked as the assistant manager of the Hilton hotel in Minneapolis and as a tour guide in the downtown area. I’m passionate about improving customer experiences through excellent teamwork, and I have worked toward this goal in all of my previous positions.”
2. Why do you want to work for our airline?
Often, interviewers ask this question to help separate candidates who are seeking a position with a specific airline from those simply looking for a job. Hiring committees want you to demonstrate your interest in their particular company. You should prepare for this question by doing extensive research about the airline to see what appeals to you about their values, company culture and customer experience.
Example answer: “I am familiar with your company culture and the excellence you strive for in your customers’ experiences. This airline boasts an impressive portfolio of glowing customer testimonies. I believe that I share the same values of hospitality and hold a people-first mentality. I am excited by the prospect of becoming part of your network of professionals who hold a growth-oriented mindset.”
3. Why would you be a good fit for this position?
Even though airline hiring committees have access to your resume, cover letter and other application materials, they ask this question to see if you can effectively communicate why you are a good fit over other candidates. They want to hear, in your own words, how you see this position fitting into your portfolio of work experience, the skills you’ve learned and your long-term professional goals. You should also explain what value you bring to their airline.
Example answer: “In my past experiences in the hospitality industry, I’ve carefully developed my skills in customer service, communication, organization, leadership and adaptability. I believe these skills will directly apply to this open position. I’m excited to interact with customers and make their flight experiences better than they expect. In the long term, I hope to work in a leadership capacity for an airline, and I see this role as a great opportunity to begin that professional development.”
4. Tell me about a time when you experienced a challenge at work. How did you handle it?
Airline interviewers often ask this question to see how you handle inevitable challenges and conflict within the workplace. Answering this question is a great opportunity to showcase your self-reflective skills and problem-solving abilities. Demonstrate your capacity to remain calm, come up with solutions and reflect upon the situation to improve your handling of future challenges.
Example answer: “In my role as the assistant manager of the Hilton in Minneapolis, I ran into a conflict when one of my employees accidentally double-booked half of our rooms for a large conference in town because of a system error. I knew I had to solve this problem quickly. With my team’s help, within a half-hour, I called all of our sister hotels within the immediate region and sourced rooms for all of the customers we couldn’t accommodate, free of charge to them.
In the end, most of the customers seemed satisfied with the arrangement, and I navigated this challenge and learned from it. I later developed and implemented an organizational system to prevent this issue from ever occurring again.”
5. What does excellent customer service mean to you?
Because airlines can only be successful when most of their customers are satisfied, customer service is a key component of their business models. Airline interviewers ask this question to see how you might fit into their expectations for customer service.
Example answer: “I see customer service as the backbone of any successful business. Without customers, businesses wouldn’t exist, and because of that, we must make sure each customer has a positive experience where their particular needs are met. In the end, it is our responsibility as an airline to deliver on the promises our brand makes.”
6. What type of work environment do you prefer?
Airlines provide a very specific type of work environment—fast-paced and collaborative. Because of this, they may ask this question to make sure that your personal preferences line up with the work experience they have to offer you.
Example answer: “I thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative environment that presents a new set of challenges each day. I think the work environment your airline offers would be a great fit for me, as I am an extrovert who gets energy from helping others in my job.”
7. Which languages do you speak?
While this might seem like a straightforward question, most airline interviewers ask this because speaking multiple languages can be a huge benefit for airline employees. Aviation professionals interact with customers from across the globe on a daily basis, so being able to converse in a variety of languages can serve you well.
Example answer: “I currently speak English and a little Spanish that I learned on the job as a tour guide. However, I’m open to the challenge of trying to learn additional languages so that I can communicate effectively and serve customers from all corners of the globe.”
8. What have your experiences been flying as a passenger?
When answering this question, use your customer experience to your advantage to discuss the values you would bring to the role you’re interviewing for.
Example answer: “I’m an avid traveler and have flown as a passenger on many airlines. While the experience is different every time, excellent in-flight service always stands out to me as a customer. I truly appreciate it when an airline professional picks up on my needs as a passenger and addresses them to make my experience great. I hope to bring this value into my work with your airline.”
9. What is your greatest weakness?
While you’ll spend most of your interview talking about your strengths, skills and professional goals, interviewers are likely to ask about your greatest weakness as well. It’s important to take this question seriously and show hiring committees that you understand what areas you need to work on.
Example answer: “My greatest weakness is that I am sometimes too detail-oriented. I can get bogged down in the details of my work and lose sight of the big picture or goal. I think that this weakness can benefit me when working with individual customers, but it may make things more challenging when I am responsible for accomplishing a goal in a short amount of time.”
10. Describe yourself in three words
By answering this question well, you can demonstrate your ability to self-reflect and think quickly. Try to choose three positive words, and be ready to explain why you chose them in case they ask you to. It can help to make the words relevant to the airline job you are applying for.
Example answer: “I would describe myself as a patient, collaborative and determined individual.”
Tips for airline interviews
While every airline seeks different qualities and competencies in their prospective employees, here are a few tips to help you prepare for and execute your interview successfully:
Do your research
As mentioned above, it’s important to thoroughly research the specific airline you are interviewing for. It’s a good idea to be familiar with their values, mission and policies to explain how you would fit into their company and why you are interested in working for their airline in particular.
Practice answering questions with a friend
To prepare for the verbal portion of your interview, it may help to practice answering potential interview questions with a friend. You’ll want to be able to explain your past work experiences and have stories and examples ready to share with the hiring committee. Rehearsing responses and getting used to verbalizing your thoughts can help you tremendously when your interview comes around.
Ask the hiring manager questions
It’s important to show that you have thought seriously about taking on this position, so asking the hiring manager questions about the role and the airline itself can be highly beneficial in an interview. Asking questions can show your passion for the aviation field and help you determine whether the specific role is right for you.
Following up after an interview by thanking your interviewers is a best practice for any job that can help you leave a positive impression. Be sure to express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview and your excitement for the role.