Its good to see that you are considering your future with the airline industry early on; there are a number of different roads you can take and each one has its rewards and pitfalls.
LeonB1985 has a really good point, especially since you do have some time to work your way into the business. Getting in on the ground level for a couple of years is a great way to scope out the different paths. Gotta warn you, it can be a rough ride on the bottom but you will learn how an airline operates pretty quick. Try picking up some summer work on the ramp or as a skycap or something first, just because you will see the real life applications of what you are taught in school and be able to make those connections.
Airlines are essentially broken down into two major areas; there is the whole operational side which includes everything from in-flight to airport ops, MX
, res, and scheduling; this is the bulk of just about every airline. The other side is much more focused on long-term planning and this side is usually much, much smaller. Marketing and finance folks usually dictate how planes are configured, which routes to operate, frequency, pricing, aircraft appearance, and all kinds of other "global" condsiderations usually fall to this handfull of highly-eudcated and experienced people. These people are almost always located near the corporate HQ
and these jobs are rarely posted anywhere since most airlines spend some money head-hunting people with these skills (some of them don't even come from the airline indusrty, but from other highly competitive service sectors).
Just beware, that either side will take considerable work and experience in order to score a well paying job. It is not uncommon to have station managers with 20+ years in as an agent before they come into a management position (especially in legacy carriers). A degree is essential anymore, but it is by no means a golden ticket since a lot of airlines are still very paternal and someone with a lot of years under his or her belt is just as competitive as someone knocking on the door with an MBA in hand. Also be prepared to move...A LOT. Lots of times the job level that you are seeking is not available locally and in order to advance you have to be mobile.
If you are curious about what kind of jobs are out there, check out one of the aviation employment sites like Avjobs.com. You'll have to fork out some money to see what is really out there, but you can also get lucky and find some on monster for free every now and then. This will give you an idea of what kind of qualifications they are looking for. The jobs that get posted on airline sites are usually garbage since the bulk of the postings are all internal and you would need access to thier intranets in order to see them. F9
is an exception, sometimes they post very detailed job decriptions.
Hope this helps!
Only amatures need the handles sticking out.