Soaring Careers: Top Five Jobs and Salaries for Aviation Degrees

June 26, 2019 Industry News

When you think of aviation, you can’t help but think “up”—airplanes flying overhead, rockets launching into space. But did you know the world of aviation is so much more than that? To keep aircrafts safe in the air, we need experts on the ground to make it all happen.

For over 80 years, Vaughn College has been the cornerstone of education for students who choose to pursue careers in aviation. With a vast curriculum encompassing all aspects of aviation, it’s no wonder Vaughn graduates are succeeding at every level and landing their dream aviation jobs in a soaring industry. Want proof? Check out the recent success stories of Alexa Cruz ’22, Kirei Watson ’18, and Jade Kukula ’07.

We’ve narrowed down the top five aviation jobs and salaries in the industry today. See all the opportunities you have with your aviation degree:

1. Director of Aerospace Program Management

Annual Salary: $183,000 (including bonuses and profit sharing).
Education: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or related field; graduate degree may be required.

This leadership position is one to aspire to as it requires experience and expertise in the field. Directors of aerospace program management lead product and project-development programs and are involved in creating a company’s business strategies, negotiating contracts to build aircrafts, and ensuring budgets and timetables are met. They are typically hired by aircraft or engine manufacturers, or defense, telecommunications or other aerospace-related employers. Other tasks include:

2. Commercial Pilot, CoPilot, or Flight Engineer

Annual Salary: $113,000 (including bonuses and profit sharing).
Education: Bachelor’s degree in aviation.
Certifications: Commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the FAA-issued Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate.

If you ever needed a reason―aside from your passion―to become an airline pilot, here’s one you can’t ignore: According to a recent report from Boeing projects, the airline industry will need more than 637,000 pilots by 2036. There’s never been a better time to pursue your dream and train to become a pilot amidst this staggering pilot shortage. Additionally, pilots have the potential to earn excellent salaries as their careers advance. Airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers are on board to perform the same duties, ensuring the safe flight of aircraft from one place to another. Other tasks include:

3. Air Traffic Controller

Annual Salary: $85,000.
Education: Associate or bachelor’s degree.
Certification: Pass the FAA biometric-screening exam or attend an institution like Vaughn which offers the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program―a partnership between the FAA and Vaughn to provide air traffic control (ATC) instruction.

Air traffic controllers (ATCs) are a pilot’s eyes and ears on the ground, assisting with landing and take-off instructions. ATCs are also responsible for rerouting in-flight aircraft when inclement weather strikes. A unique characteristic of working as an ATC is the mandatory retirement age of 56, with full federal pension benefits. Other tasks include:

4. Aerospace/Aviation Project Engineer

Annual Salary: $83,000.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, aviation engineering or another field of engineering or science that is related to aerospace systems.

Aerospace/aviation project engineers have the exciting task of designing aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. They are employed in various fields which include manufacturing, analysis and design, research and development, and the federal government. Note that aerospace engineers working in national defense may need a security clearance. Other tasks include:

5. Aircraft Maintenance Manager

Annual Salary: $81,000.
Education: Bachelor’s degree.
Certification: Requires FAA aircraft and engine mechanic license.

Aircraft maintenance managers play a leading role of overseeing their team to ensure work is completed and performed according to quality control guidelines. These professionals must possess both technical and leadership skills to efficiently perform maintenance jobs in addition to supervising maintenance operations. Other tasks include:

Are you setting your sights on a career in aviation? Vaughn’s career services offer aviation enthusiasts a wide range of options where they can find the perfect career fit with certificate, associate, bachelor and master’s degree programs.

Check out all that’s possible with Vaughn’s maintenance aviation degree programs and certificates.

Note: Salaries reported by PayScale and based on a national average.