Top Airline Jobs
Captains & Other Flight Crewmembers
A handful of pilot positions are filled by former military pilots. Having gained valuable experience flying for their country, they are well prepared to fly passenger planes. Aviation training schools are available to offer civilians a route into the pilot’s seat, with coursework and mandatory flight hours adding to the rigorous training needed to take the controls in a jet. With a highly competitive job environment, as well as a great deal of training and experience required, many aspiring airline employees aim their sights at positions other than flight crewmembers.
Various schools offer FAA approved education leading to the aircraft dispatcher certificate that authorizes people to share responsibility with the pilot for the flight planning and safe completion. Generally, the aircraft dispatcher works from the airline’s main operations center, and remotely interacts with pilots and flight operations in progress. The training to be certified to work as an aircraft dispatcher includes a thorough classroom component that lasts several weeks, or a few months. The standardized knowledge test that a dispatcher must pass as one prerequisite for FAA Aircraft Dispatcher certification is similar to the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) knowledge examination. In fact, the questions on the dispatcher test are drawn from the ATP test.
There are other similar positions related to aircraft dispatchers that benefit from the same training. Flight followers generally work with the aircraft dispatcher as an assistant would, helping to take care of some of the duties for supervision of the aircraft while it is in flight. While the aircraft dispatcher is legally responsible, along with the captain of the aircraft for the safe arrival of the flight, some of the tracking and monitoring duties can be done by a flight follower working with the dispatcher. The flight follower is the general term for personnel assisting FAR Part 121 supplemental pilots. Supplemental air carriers currently do not require official (certified) aircraft dispatchers, but they do hire these individuals as more knowledgeable flight followers, who can work well with pilots.
Another related job, often based in the airline’s operations center and working closely with the aircraft dispatcher, is the load planner. The load planner generally specializes in assessing and planning for the aircraft’s carrying capacity, as the title indicates. Usually working closely with the aircraft dispatcher, the load planner helps with technical details related to the plane and its cargo, while the dispatcher is responsible for flight planning, airport details, and more.
Meteorologists, usually available within an area of an Operational Control Center at larger airlines, are an important part of the airline safety and planning process. Knowing the weather conditions ahead and risks of thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, or other inclement weather to be anticipated along the way are crucial to planning and carrying out safe air travel. While dispatchers receive some crucial training in reading weather charts and predictions, many airlines also employ specialists who assist the dispatchers with weather planning.
For those who want to work in the exciting field of aviation, there are positions available at many different levels to help keep the aircraft in the air and arriving safely and on time. From ground support to aircraft dispatch, many jobs are crucial to the effort of getting passengers from point A to point B.