Topic Author
Posts: 314
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:45 pm

Need Career Advice - Where To Start....

Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:44 pm

Hi All,

Hoping to get some advice about where to begin in the aviation industry following a BA in Criminology. I picked up the interest of aviation just a couple years ago, and now am fascinated with it. I would like some advice on where to start. I have an interest in eventually becoming a Flight Dispatcher or possibly some business-oriented position within an airline. What's my best bet for starters? Should I start off by becoming a ramp agent and eventually work my way up? What steps would you take? Any advice would be much appreciated. I posted this topic in the Aviation Hobby - but didn't get many responses - so hoping I'll get more here. I am mainly looking for advice on entry level positions in order to work my way up the ladder.

Cheers will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you shall return
Posts: 774
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2001 12:26 pm

RE: Need Career Advice - Where To Start....

Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:24 am

Are you at all able to narrow down your specific interest in aviation? What do you see yourself doing within the field?

One thing to possibly consider is to work for an airport authority rather than an airline. Airlines come and go, go into bankruptcy, merge with another carrier, etc., while your local airport is always there (which is not to say that airports don't have their own economic ups and downs). But generally, job stability is better with an airport than with an airline.

Within the airport field, the job most having to do with hands-on airfield and aircraft contact would be airport operations. These are the people who inspect the runways and taxiways, monitor fueling operations, coordinate snow removal, coordinate with the control tower, etc. You might be able to get an internship with an airport or start out in ops at a small field. FBO experience might be another way to get your foot in the door with airport operations.

Good luck!
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Posts: 628
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 10:10 am

RE: Need Career Advice - Where To Start....

Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:33 am

Check out this topic here about aviation careers. Its got lots more answers and might provide better insight.

Posts: 249
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2006 8:58 pm

RE: Need Career Advice - Where To Start....

Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:04 am

I think you should try to get a job at an airport. It could be security, cleaning or handling.
Once you are in there, you get connections to other people, and that way you can apply for other positions.

The best of luck to you.
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Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

RE: Need Career Advice - Where To Start....

Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:05 am

Quoting VikingA346 (Thread starter):
Flight Dispatcher or

Requires an FAA Aircraft Dispatcher license. The knowledge test ("written" test, now taken on a computer) is identical to the Airline Transport Pilot written except it also includes a question or two about the license and its related regulations. (FAR Part 65)

Here is a link to the ADF (Airline Dispatchers Federation)

If you lose this link don't go to as that is a neo-pagan druid organization. A lovely bunch of people I'm sure but not much help in this quest. They have links to schools that do dispatcher training.

For a raw-meat dispatcher student with no airline or military flight ops experience the full course to become a dispatcher is probably six weeks and will likely cost about three thousand plus expenses. It is a pretty good study load.

In addition to the written there is a "practical" exam. Most likely it will go like this: The examiner will hand you a weather package and a sheet of data about an airline flight you are to dispatch. You will study the weather, plan the flight including fuel load and maybe weight & balance. The instructor already has his solution so when you hand it in (maybe an hour's work involved before you do this) he will compare time and fuel burn etc. with your work. He will check on the little traps (one-way airways and so on) then he will conduct an oral exam on the flight you just planned, the regulations regarding it, the weather, the airplane in question, performance in general, navigation and instrument flight, basic aeronautics and a few hypotheticals. When he is satisfied that you know your stuff he'll write you out a "temporary airman certificate" and you will be a dispatcher.

I've had the license for a quarter century now. My daughter has had hers for ten years. Neither of us is working the profession so there are two slots open for you.

Your plan might be a good one. Dispatcher is almost an entry-level job for one who has the license. I say almost because there is usually a bit of a surplus of licensed guys on the property waiting for the next opening. Typically you might be hired as a dispatch clerk, an assistant to a licensed dispatcher. From that pool you get moved up. Pay used to be somewhere around 70% of a captain's pay at the same seniority but I don't know what it is like these days.

After that, well, management must come from somewhere. It is a real boon to airline management when they can find well-educated, experienced, real-world hands-on experienced guys right there in their own office to promote. Besides, if they don't give you the opportunity some other airline will.

The down side is that the airline business is as bad and worse than

Quoting RNOcommctr (Reply 1):
Airlines come and go, go into bankruptcy, merge with another carrier, etc.

...this suggests. I have long said that the only real sure way to have a pension at the end of your aviation career is to work for the government at some level. I feel almost traitorous making such a statement but it is true. Corporate America is committed to shedding its personnel expenses - no matter the consequences to you.

On the other hand, satisfaction with the job is inversely proportional to the size of the establishment for which you work. I've known maybe three or four government employees who did not hate their jobs. I've worked for some real dirtbag airlines and loved it.

good luck
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