How to Become an Aviation Manager:
The Definitive Guide


Do you have a love of airplanes, but don’t want to always be in the air?

Have you been fascinated by what you see at the airport whenever you travel?

If so, you can become an aviation manager, which will allow you to be close to those huge airplanes, without having to leave your home town.

Aviation managers are important because they make sure that everything is working the way that it should.

Airports and airlines are often chaotic, but aviation managers help to ease that stress a little bit.

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What is an Aviation Manager?

An aviation manager is someone who works in airports, airlines, or other aerospace businesses.

They oversee day to day operations within the airport or airline or manage a certain department.

Aviation managers work with different rules and regulations made by local, state, and federal branches to ensure that the airport and all of its departments are running smoothly.

In order to succeed at this job, you’ll want quite a lot of knowledge in business and management.

You’ll also want to learn about business administration, and you’ll certainly need to have knowledge of aeronautical sciences as well as air transportation principles.

Duties

As an aviation manager, you’ll want to make sure that everyone at the airport is safe.

Some of the duties that you’ll be required to do are:

  • Maintain aircraft maintenance records
  • Keep up with inspection schedules
  • Ensure compliance with FAA regulations
  • Manage maintenance staff
  • Manage airport employees
  • Provide schedules
  • Administer business operations
  • Keep up with policies, procedures and laws
  • Help crews prepare for flights
  • Prepare financial reports
  • Work with emergency responders

Salary

Due to the fact that an aviation manager is such an important job, the salary for this career is well above average.

Typically, aviation managers make around $167,000 a year.

You can start out making around $138,000 and make up to around $211,000.

Not bad!

Depending on your education, certifications and the skills you have acquired, you may make more or less than average.

Those that have worked in this field for many years are typically at the top of the salary charts.

While, those who are just starting out and need more training begin in the bottom tier.

This is a great paying job, and the more education and skills you acquire, the more money you can make on average.

Average National Salary: $167,000

$138K
$152K
$167K
$188K
$211K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
*Salary information last updated 2019

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$156,337
Alaska$188,215
Arizona$165,924
Arkansas$154,192
California$187,209
Colorado$167,097
Connecticut$182,181
Delaware$175,980
Florida$160,896
Georgia$161,734
Hawaii$176,481
Idaho$158,184
Illinois$172,678
Indiana$163,745
Iowa$160,058
Kansas$156,924
Kentucky$156,035
Louisiana$159,153
Maine$161,566
Maryland$174,136
Massachusetts$182,349
Michigan$169,276
Minnesota$170,952
Mississippi$145,373
Missouri$159,220
Montana$151,929
Nebraska$153,689
Nevada$172,628
New Hampshire$170,114
New Jersey$186,036
New Mexico$152,432
New York$179,835
North Carolina$159,890
North Dakota$155,868
Ohio$163,410
Oklahoma$157,544
Oregon$166,929
Pennsylvania$167,265
Rhode Island$176,650
South Carolina$155,524
South Dakota$142,963
Tennessee$152,264
Texas$164,248
Utah$158,789
Vermont$161,399
Virginia$164,968
Washington$178,997
West Virginia$147,655
Wisconsin$165,086
Wyoming$148,797

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Alaska, where the average salary is $188,215

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Alaska - $188,215
California - $187,209
New Jersey - $186,036
Massachusetts - $182,349
Connecticut - $182,181

How to Become an Aviation Manager

Step 1Obtain a Degree

It is very important to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in aviation management or an equivalent.

Most employers won’t hire you without some type of degree.

You’ll have the opportunity to learn about safety management, aviation law and policy, air transportation management, applied operations in transportation, and airspace management.

The first two years of your degree will consist of general studies.

The last two years will typically be more geared toward the field you want to work.

If you want to be extremely successful in this field, you’ll want to take on an internship.

An internship can be done through a local airport.

Your college may be able to help you set up this type of opportunity.

Step 2Get Certified

The next step on the road to becoming an aviation manager is to get certified.

You may think that all you need is a Bachelor’s degree, but that’s not true.

That’s just the first step.

Next, you’ll need to get in contact with the American Association of Airport Executives, who offer two different types of certifications.

The first certification that you can get is called the AAAE Certified Member credential.

This is for people who don’t have as much experience or are just starting out in the field.

In order to gain this credential, you’ll need to pass the AAAE exam, which consists of 180 multiple choice questions.

If you have more than 8 years of experience in aviation management, then you can consider taking the Accredited Airport Executive certification.

This is the accreditation that is preferred by most employers.

Taking this exam consists of multiple-choice questions, a writing portion, and an interview.

You’ll also want to make sure that your certifications stay up to date, no one wants their credentials to lapse.

Step 3Become a Manager

Once you obtain some certifications, you’ll be able to apply to become an Accredited Airport Executive after three years of experience as an aviation manager.

After you do that, you’ll be on your way to becoming even higher up in your aviation management career.

There are tons of jobs you can do when you achieve certifications and experience.

For example:

  • You can become a shift manager
  • An air traffic control supervisor
  • A Director of operations
  • Ramp services manager
  • Director of aircraft management sales
  • Branch manager
  • Terminal manager

And so much more!

The limits to what you can do are up to you.


Education

In order to become an aviation manager, you must obtain a Bachelor’s degree.

You’ll need a degree in aviation management, or an equivalent field.

Some of the equivalent fields include:

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Aviation
  • Aeronautics

If you go for your Bachelor’s degree in aviation management, you’ll be taking classes focused on business management as well as aviation industry knowledge.

You’ll be expected to learn about the various aspects of airport business, including marketing, operations, financial accounting, sales, publish relations, and technical assistance.

Typically a Bachelor’s degree will take around four years.

Some of the courses that you will take may include:

  • Business law
  • Corporate finance
  • Aviation insurance
  • Aviation labor relations
  • Airline management

You’ll need specific aptitude in math, science, business, economics and computers.

It is also possible to get a Master’ degree.

This will help you achieve advanced skills in aviation management.

One of the cool things about getting a Master’s in aviation management is that it’s geared toward working professionals.

You’ll be able to attend seminars and perform independent research in order to learn how the business goes.

Some of the courses that you’ll probably take in a Master’s program are:

  • Airline operations and management
  • Air cargo and logistics management
  • Business policy
  • Business research methods
  • Global information and technology management

There are also some other types of careers you can get with an Aviation Management degree.

If you’re interested, these careers are:

  • Aviation planner
  • Financial analyst for airlines
  • Senior staff analyst
  • Operations analyst
  • Aviation human resource manager
  • Purchasing manager for airlines

There are both online and on campus schools that allow you to obtain an Aviation Management degree.

Go to your local college website and see if they offer this degree, or an equivalent.

If not, check out some online schools, which have just as good of an education as brick and mortar schools, you just don’t have to travel!

Video About The Career


Certification

The National Business Aviation Association offers the certification in order to become a certified aviation manager.

In order to become certified, you’ll need to pass an exam.

Also, you will want to make sure that every three years you are renewing your certification.

There are several different areas on the exam that are tested.

These are:

  • Technical and facilities services
  • Personnel management
  • Operations
  • Leadership
  • Business management

The test is offered several times a year, so you’ll want to check in with your local NBAA to find out when and where the exams are given near you.

It is important to remember that when you finish your exam, you’ll also be examined by the NBAA to see how much experience you have, how knowledgeable you are, and what your education level is.

They do this in order to make sure that the person running their airline is appropriate for the job.

You will want to make sure that you have two years of experience in an aviation business, some experience working in aviation management, operations or supervision.

Once you have all that situated, you’ll be eligible to take the exam.

The exam is given based on a points system, you’re awarded points on the degree that you’ve obtained, and the number of years’ experience that you have.

The best bet for you is to get your experience in while you are still in school.

You can even work at an airline while you finish your degree.

Or, you can always do an internship as well.

If you are doing an internship, it will cut down on the amount that you have to work when you graduate before you can get your certification.

Once you get your certification than you can start running your own airport, which can be an exhilarating feeling. 

Certification Example:

aviation manager certification

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

There isn’t really any specified training for this job.

Although, once you start working at an airport, you will likely be trained for the job, which typically takes about two weeks.

The training that you’ll get to be an aviation manager will likely come as an internship, which you can do while you’re in school.

Most internships last around 90 days.

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Job Outlook

The job outlook for an Aviation Manager is decent.

It will be slower than many other careers in the next ten years, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

There will always be a need for aviation managers because there will always be a need for airlines and airports.

Those that work in aviation management can expect to make quite a bit of money.

People will take more vacations and business trips throughout the years, which means more people in and out of the airports.

Even though the job outlook is a little slower than some other careers, it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad investment.

Employment Growth Projection: 3%

24,900
2016
25,800
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 900 jobs.

Aviation Manager: Interest Over Time


Should You Become an Aviation Manager?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

Most aviation managers have to work at all hours of the day, there are no real shift systems.

You’ll be working whenever it is the busiest for that day.

This means, that you’ll likely be working evenings, holidays, and weekends.

This could make the job satisfaction go down a little bit.

Although, most aviation managers love their jobs, as they have a passion for aircrafts.

It’s important to really love the field, because it can take a toll on you physically and mentally.

People who work in this field tend to really like the atmosphere and quick pace of the airport.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

The average salary as of 2019 in the United States for an aviation manager is around $166,000 per year.

Depending on experience and education, the range of salary is from around $130,000 to $210,000.

Those that have more experience, training, specific skills and certifications will make more money than those just starting out in the field.

If you are the type of person that enjoys going to school, go and get your Master’s degree so that you can make as much money as possible in this career.

Aviation managers need to be smart and quick, they also need to understand what it takes to take care of an entire airport, that is why they make so much money.

If you have a passion for airplanes and people, then you’ll definitely want to check out this career.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

The job growth outlook for an aviation manager is slower than other careers in the same field.

Nextgen, the satellite-based transportation system for air traffic, will soon allow individual controllers to handle more air traffic.

This means less aviation managers needed per aviation base.

With that being said, it’s important to keep in mind that there are going to be many people traveling throughout the next ten years.

More people are taking vacations and business trips.

Which means more people in the airport to take care of.

There will always be a need for aviation managers, especially in larger airports that see many flyers every single day.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

The education for an aviation manager can take some time.

It takes from 4 year to 6 years to begin your career as an aviation manager.

While in school, you can work for an airline through an internship.

That way you’ll be able to obtain your certifications and employment once you graduate.

It is important for aviation managers to get as much education as possible, as this is a very important job.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

In order to become an aviation manager, you should really make sure that you have a desire to be around aircrafts and airports.

Those that have a knack for flying objects do better in this type of career.

Other than that, the personal skills that you’ll need to be an aviation manager are:

  • Good budgeting and finance skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Decision making skills
  • Ability to think critically
  • Time management skills
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Adherence to health and safety rules


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary of an aviation manager?

The average yearly salary for an aviation manager is around $166,000.

Though, when you first start out working as an aviation manager, you will probably make a little less than that.

As you work your way up in your company, you can make much more.

More than $200,000, to be exact.

Get your certifications and experience, and you can soon be making six figures.

Q. How long does it take to become an aviation manager?

In order to become an aviation manager, you have to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.

Typically, a degree will take you around four years.

First, you will work on getting your general education classes done.

Then, you’ll want to focus on classes that have more to do with aviation and the aeronautic field.

If you want to get further education, you can go for your Master’s, which will be around another two years of school.

Q. What does an aviation manager do?

An aviation manager does quite a lot of things.

First of all, they manage the airport or airline that they are in charge of.

The aviation manager makes sure that everyone does what they are supposed to be doing, and that all safety regulations are in check.

Aviation managers know the protocols for the pilots and the flight crew, so that everyone is safe and headed where they need to be.

Q. What is the demand for aviation managers?

The demand for aviation managers is expected to grow, but not too much in the next ten years.

More people are flying for business and pleasure, so the number of flights per day to and from airports will likely increase.

This will result in busier airports, which means more duties for the aviation manager to attend to, which is perfect for anyone looking for a job in this field.

Q. How much does it cost to become an aviation manager?

That really depends on the school that you go to.

The tuition for a Bachelor’s degree for four years can cost between $30,000 and $50,000.

If you want to get your Master’s degree, that can cost upwards of $100,000.

Plus, the cost of certifications can increase that amount around $500.

This career is worth it, in the end, as you’ll be making more than that in one year.


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