10 Top Paying Jobs in Aviation


10-top-paying-jobs-in-aviationThe airline industry has been going through a rough transition for years now. From buttoned-down security to sky-high gas prices, it's been a bumpy ride. Still, the fact remains that people want to travel and there are plenty of jobs available at airlines, airports, airplane companies and security organizations around the globe. Where might your talents fit into the aviation industry?

Many people wish for the glamorous lifestyle and income of a pilot. But, do pilots always wear crisp uniforms and make the big bucks? Not necessarily, according to Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at online salary database PayScale.com. He says, "There's a huge variation in pay depending on whether you're flying a float plane for a regional commuter company or flying 747s for United. Regional airlines sometimes pay $20 per hour and only when the engine is on." Lee says that with only 1000 hours of engine time a year, that hourly rate can come close to minimum wage.

Fortunately, you don't have to wait to fly jumbo jets if want to work in aviation. In fact, if you like doing math, mechanical work or security tasks, here are some in-demand job options, that are also some of the best-paid in the industry, according to PayScale.

1. Director of Aerospace Program Management

Median Annual Salary: $151,000

According to Lee, "Aerospace is second only to petroleum engineering in pay." That's why the director of an aerospace engineering program management team can earn well into the six figures. This person likely has a graduate degree in business, such as an MBA, in addition to their degree in engineering. Directors are involved in developing the company's business strategy, negotiating contracts to build aircraft and taking responsibility for company profitability.

2. Airline Pilot, Copilot or Flight Engineer

Median Annual Salary: $117,000

Most pilots used to receive their training in the military, but in recent years a college degree and training from an FAA-certified flight training school has become more common among new hires. And, while many may pay less, there are plenty of jobs for pilots besides passenger airline gigs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 34 percent of commercial pilots use their time in the air to dust crops, test planes, monitor traffic, fight fires and perform other non-typical functions.

3. Aerospace Project Engineer

Median Annual Salary: $82,000

An aerospace project engineer must not only understand the ins and outs of aerospace engineering, but they must have the personal and organizational skills to lead a team through a project. A project engineer is likely involved in managing the budget for a project, hiring and training staff, checking their team's work and other administrative tasks.

4. Aircraft Maintenance Manager

Median Annual Salary: $74,200

Once again, this is a job position that requires both technical skill and a knack for leading teams. A maintenance manager is a knowledgeable professional who ensures that their teams perform maintenance regularly and according to regulatory guidelines. The manager schedules a staff of technicians and likely does much of the hiring and training of their team.

-- Find Aircraft Maintenance Jobs

5. Air Traffic Controller

Median Annual Salary:$62,500

Lee notes that air traffic controller is one of the best-paying jobs you can have with an associate's degree. It's well known for causing sky-high stress levels and requiring a tremendous amount of mental focus. But, did you know that, depending on the airport, the work is separated out between controllers for ground movement, take-off, en route flight time, landing and more? The competition for these lucrative, steady job positions is steep, though the BLS expects a wave of retirement in the coming years that should open up more positions to younger controllers.

-- Find Air Traffic Controller Jobs

6. Sky Marshal or Air Marshal

Median Annual Salary: $62,100

Air marshals are employed by the federal government to guard against attacks targeting U.S. aircraft, passengers and crew. According to the Transportation Security Administration's website, air marshals may have the unique challenge of working independently, without back up. Therefore, they are trained in handgun accuracy, terrorist behavior recognition and learn "aircraft specific tactics and close quarters self-defense measures." Sky marshal sounds like a good job for someone who is brave, tough and level-headed.

-- Find Air Marshal Jobs

7. Airplane Inspector

Median Annual Salary: $60,600

Airplane mechanics with some experience in the field and a positive track record can move into the role of inspector. Airplane inspectors enjoy greater job security because the work they do is, and likely always will be, required by the FAA. Airlines must have them around to regularly inspect the planes after any maintenance, repairs or overhauls. According to the BLS, the best job opportunities are available to mechanics who have an aircraft inspector's authorization.

-- Find Airplane Inspector Jobs

8. Aircraft Mechanic

Median Annual Salary: $50,500

Many mechanics specialize in preventative airplane maintenance, though they also do repairs. While some mechanics learn their skills on the job, most attend an FAA-approved school, of which there are 170 in the US. Jobs with major airlines are the most competitive because they offer the best pay and benefits.

-- Find Aircraft Mechanic Jobs

9. Avionics Technician

Median Annual Salary: $49,300

An avionics technician works on the components used for aircraft navigation and radio communications, weather radar systems, and other instruments and computers. They often must solve complex electrical problems and can work odd hours depending when their expertise is called upon.

-- Find Avionics Technician Jobs

10. Aircraft Loadmaster

Median Annual Salary: 40,900

The loadmaster mathematically preplans the correct placement of passengers and cargo on the airplane so that the plane can take off and land safely. In the military, loadmasters often fly with the plane so that they can prepare it for its next leg of the journey. Commercial airlines often hire a similar position, called a load planner, which does not require flying on the plane. When asked about how secure this job position is for the long haul, former US Air Force load master Ben Nesheim says, "There will always be a load master to calculate weight and balance. For every plane that carries cargo, somebody has to do the math."

-- Find Aircraft Loadmaster Jobs

Here are some more popular aviation jobs and what they pay:

Job Title

Median Pay

Aviation / Aerospace Program Manager


Aerospace Engineer


Aircraft Engine Mechanic Supervisor


Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician


Aircraft Electrician


Flight Attendant


Flight Dispatcher


Air Export Agent


Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assembler


Air Freight Agent


Airline/Aviation Ground Attendant


Airline Security Screener


Airline/Aviation Baggage Handler


Airline Ticket Reservation Agent


Aircraft Fueler


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CEO Sam Battal

I've been in aviation 30 years and worked numerous places. These stats are off.
aircraft mechanics, electricians, power plant all make same base $85,000 yr. a lot of OT available.
Maintenance supervisor with bonuses $100-$135,000 yr
Director levels are $200-280,000 yr
First officers $120,000 on 737 an larger 15 yrs
Captains $180-$280,000 on 767 with 25 years

March 16 2015 at 1:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CEO Sam Battal's comment

Mr. Battal, thank you for your candid response and, most likely accurate statistic for these positions.
I am trying to assist a fellow veteran in his job search. He's a recent graduate w/honors from Embry Riddle with a BS in Aviation Business Administration, concentration on Management with a minor in Economics. His 6+ yrs of accomadated, exemplary military service, state and national championships in Phi Beta Lambada competitions & numerous other desirable attributes, preferably he'd like to pursue a career in general management, operations or development in the aviation, aeronautical or aerospace industries.
My difficulty is what entry level job titles does one search for in his case?
And do you have any advice on non traditional methods of finding an opportunity for someone in his position?
Thank you, in advance, for any advice or assistance you may be willing to share.

June 19 2015 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Watharakuma Mutiti

I am simply responding to hunkler71's earlier comment. I found his comment to have a sense of humour.
Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers with all those mourning Mr. Robin Williams.

September 01 2014 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Best Aviation Jobs


April 09 2013 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Best Aviation Jobs

Visit www.best-aviation-jobs.com for the best worldwide aviation jobs

April 09 2013 at 3:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

yeah i love the job so much email risingstar.nwosu@yahoo..com

March 16 2013 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bruk UnAmaro

This is brook, an Aviation major at Indiana State University. i want to know about what you know. text me at 3177976702 or email me at seleshib@yahoo.com please i would really appreciate it if you can help me thank you

October 29 2012 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jessie...I'm getting into the aviation career field, can I ask you some questions?

October 05 2011 at 12:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I worked in the aerospace industry and engineers and managers make well over that. Senior engineers can make more than double what this website states. Managers make even more as on top of their pay (salary) there's a bonus which is often what some people make per year. I'm not saying that these people are rich but they do make more than what statistics suggest. It's also an interesting field but many people that work in the industry do so not because of qualifications but because they knew someone that was already in the industry. This leads to politics in the work area but that's also part of life. Very often you end up working for people dumber than you.

November 10 2010 at 6:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The best way to get a job in aviation is get a degree
Top College Resource

August 30 2010 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rob's comment

Hey, I've been thinking about being a flight attendant! I love to fly and I love to be around people(: I was wondering if I should go to college, if so, what should I take that would help me apply for a job?

November 09 2010 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As my kids say, "Really?" If you think after all of the fallout from 9/11 and bankruptcies that flight attendants are making nearly 40k?

June 14 2010 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to skibuoy6's comment

I'm a flight attendant and I make well over $85,000 a year.. I just LUV my job! =)

August 28 2010 at 12:56 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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