When we hear the word “aviation” our minds typically turn to airplanes and pilots. But did you ever wonder who is working on the ground to keep the industry moving and keep travelers, pilots and flight attendants safe?

This month, we spotlight the exciting careers you can pursue in the airport and airline management industry. If you have a passion for aviation—but would prefer to keep your feet on the ground—your futureproof career may lie within one of these sectors. Read on to learn more about these in-demand careers and the success stories of graduates from Vaughn who have landed their dream jobs doing what they love.

Air Traffic Controller

If becoming an air traffic controller has been on your radar, you may want to learn more about this exciting career. Air traffic controllers (ATCs) are so much more than “eyes in the sky.” On a daily basis, air traffic controllers are responsible for monitoring aircraft through the use of radar and other equipment. Air traffic controllers require a particular set of skills and a talent for teamwork to be successful.

Responsibilities of an Air Traffic Controller

In addition to coordinating and monitoring the movement of aircraft within safe distances—both in the air and on the ground—they have other responsibilities that include:

  • Controlling ground traffic at airport runways and taxiways
  • Issuing landing and takeoff instructions to pilots
  • Transferring control of departing flights to other traffic control centers and accepting control of arriving flights

Aviation enthusiasts from all walks of life are flocking toward a career in air traffic control for its unique benefits. If you are one of these enthusiasts, benefits of being an air traffic controller include:

  • Potential to earn a six-figure salary after first few years of service
  • Consistent work schedule
  • Mandatory retirement age at 56—with full federal benefits
How Vaughn Can Get You There

Vaughn can prepare you for this exciting career as an air traffic controller, and in less time than you might have imagined. Vaughn partners with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to offer the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI). Why is that important? By attending an AT-CTI institution like Vaughn, you get to bypass the biometric screening that’s required by the FAA and could enter the training program faster. Vaughn is one of only 30 colleges in the country to offer this program and is the only program of its kind in the Northeast.

Vaughn Student Success Story: Air Traffic Control
Jessenia Diaz
Jessenia Diaz ’10

Vaughn College graduate Jessenia Diaz ’10 landed her dream job as an air traffic controller at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. In December 2010, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in airport management and general management, received the board of trustees award at spring convocation and was selected as the student commencement speaker for 2011.

“Pilots may have the best equipment on the plane, but they depend on us to navigate them from the ground. I love my job and wouldn’t trade working in New York for anything. My time at Vaughn gave me the knowledge and experience to get me where I am today.”

Learn more about what a day in the life of an air traffic controller is like.

Airport Security Manager

The role of an airport security manager is considered one of the most complex security jobs anywhere. There’s no doubt that the safety of airline passengers is a priority. Internationally, safety managers follow the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) to help manage aviation safety risks in coordination with their service providers.

Airport Security Manager Job Functions

In the US, safety managers are responsible for promoting safety awareness by adhering to regulations from the FAA and other agencies, which include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Homeland Security. Here are some of the essential responsibilities of a airport security manager:

  • Maintain the safety and security of the airport
  • Review and revise airport safety and security plans
  • Develop and implement employee safety policies and practices
  • Inspect runway lighting
  • Keep runways clear
  • Ensure airfield is protected
How Vaughn Can Get You There

Vaughn College offers an airport management degree program to prepare students for the various functional areas of aviation and business management. Located across from New York’s newly-renovated LaGuardia Airport, the learning environment at Vaughn College provides unsurpassed experiences for students. If airport management is a career you are considering, Vaughn will prepare you to work full-time in either an airport or related industry.

Vaughn adjunct professor Al Graser, who teaches airport and operations management at the College, shared his insights about the planning and security measures that were taken in preparation for the 2016 Olympic games, which were held in Brazil.

“Brazil put forth a major effort to prepare for the 2016 Olympic games. It appears this type of investment will ensure the security, service and operations for all users of the airport during the Olympic games and into the future.”

Airport Operations Manager

Airports operate under Part 139 Certification, issued by the FAA to ensure safety in air transportation. With that being understood, the role of an operations manager is to supervise and coordinate the day-to-day landside and airside operations of the airport. They must possess outstanding management and communication skills and have full knowledge of FAA rules, among other requirements. Here is snapshot of how it all breaks down:

Landside responsibilities:
  • Managing various airline terminals and concourses
  • Ensuring the safety and flow of roadways for buses, passenger cars, etc.
  • Overseeing retail operations, such as shops and restaurants
  • Assisting in the preparation of annual budgets for airport operations
Airside responsibilities:
  • Ensuring runways and taxiways are open and clear
  • Coordinating ground operations, including baggage and catering
  • Managing aircraft fueling
  • Communicating with air traffic control
  • Planning and coordinating the arrivals and departures of very important people (VIPs)
How Vaughn Can Get You There

Vaughn’s faculty, staff and curriculum work together seamlessly to ensure their students’ success. For Vaughn airport management graduate Otha Ward ’19 a summer internship, leadership roles and outstanding professors proved to be a winning combination in helping him land his position of airport operations agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

Vaughn Student Success Story: Airport Operations
Otha Ward
Otha Ward ’19

Otha credits Vaughn with helping him to pursue his dream of securing a rewarding career at an international airport.

“Vaughn is a special place,” he stated humbly. “The College has connections that set it apart from other institutions—making that one of its greatest assets. I’m grateful to everyone at Vaughn for helping me get to where I am today.”

Air Cargo Manager

The air cargo market has seen a recent surge in demand, as airfreight and cargo companies have become an essential part of transporting medical supplies and other life-saving equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent market report—Global Air Cargo Market 2020-2024—released by Technavio (a global technology research and advisory company), the air cargo market is expected to grow by 16.75 million tons during this four-year timeframe. Freight and cargo managers are an integral part of this growing industry, as they are responsible for revenue management, quality control and understanding the needs of shippers to ultimately enhance profitability.

Advantages of Choosing Vaughn

Vaughn’s long-term relationship with Atlas Air has resulted in many alumni landing internships and ultimately full-time positions with this renowned aviation cargo company. Karen Batson ’04, Vaughn alumna and adjunct faculty member, has been instrumental in hiring more than 30 of the College’s recent graduates to work at Atlas Air because she knows how Vaughn prepares graduates for successful careers in the aviation field.

Vaughn Student Success Story: Air Cargo
Vladislav Makarov
Vladislav Makarov ’16

Vaughn College alumnus Vladislav Makarov ’16 landed his job at air cargo company Atlas Air in 2015, never imagining how valuable his dual bachelor’s degrees in airport and airline management from Vaughn would become—especially during an unforeseen pandemic.

“Vaughn’s curriculum prepares you for the field you’ll be working in by providing real-world practical examples that you can use right away,” Makarov said. “Unlike my experiences at other colleges, at Vaughn, you jump right into the core of what you will be doing in your field after graduation.”

Earn a Master’s Degree in Airport and Aviation Management at Vaughn

At Vaughn, you can take your passion to the next level with a master’s degree in either airport management or aviation management.

Master of Science in Airport Management

Did you know Vaughn College offers one of the few graduate-level programs in airport management in the Northeast? Our airport management degree program applies modern management concepts to the aviation environment by incorporating the most current research and state-of-the-art technology so that students can be prepared and adaptable to this ever-changing industry. If this career choice interests you, a master’s degree in airport management will not only expand your career opportunities but also enhance your risk assessment, management and leadership skills.

The master’s in airport management degree program requires 34 credits and includes a master’s project or thesis. Vaughn’s close proximity to world-class airports gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and knowledge from instructors who are industry leaders. You can complete the master’s in airport management degree program in one year, but you also have the opportunity to schedule your courses over your own timelines.

Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Aviation Management

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Aviation Management will provide entry- or mid-level professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to advance in general management and aviation-related organizations. This course of study will provide the opportunity to learn and apply scientific methods to understanding and addressing business and aviation topics. Depending on a student’s academic background, they may be required to complete some basic business training. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree in Aviation Management has at its core 35 credits and will include an industry analysis project.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the various careers you can pursue in the aviation and airport management fields. Feeling inspired? Join us for our Virtual Open House on April 8 at 6 p.m. and “Meet The Future You.” We look forward to seeing you there!