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Aviation career path experts predict renewed air travel appetite

Focus, network, and be proactive

Aviation career insiders suggest that aspiring professional pilots concentrate on the future and prepare themselves for a hiring spree that may coincide with an increased appetite for air travel in the months ahead.

Aviation career specialists suggest keeping an eye on the future, gaining experience, and making personal contacts. Photo by Mike Fizer.

ATP Flight School Manager of Airline and Corporate Partnerships Ashley Pillon said aspiring pilots should “remain focused on positioning themselves to achieve their long-term career goals. In the two years it takes to become a qualified airline pilot, upcoming retirements coupled with a renewed demand for air travel will once again lead to a shortage of qualified pilots.”

Pillon said that “seeking the fastest route to complete training” will assist rising pilots in obtaining the certifications and hour requirements they need to be poised “at the forefront of seniority during the hiring upswing.”

She also suggested that pilots could capitalize on networking opportunities and obtain additional qualifications to better prepare themselves for the future. Pillon noted that pursuing professional development opportunities such as the Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program will give pilots exposure to the air carrier environment and make them more competitive applicants.

The program is intended to prepare applicants to operate safely in the professional air carrier environment. Graduates of certain institutions of higher education are allowed the flexibility to serve as a co-pilot under a restricted privileges airline transport pilot certificate “until [they obtain] the necessary 1,500 hours” for an unrestricted airline transport pilot certificate.

Despite an air travel slowdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, aviation companies are still searching job résumés, said Abbey Hutter, executive director of, an AOPA partner, has “about 10,000 jobs” posted on its website and has logged significant job-search traffic spikes that coincided with the contraction of commercial aviation.

Hutter suggested that applicants polish their résumés and cover letters to better market themselves and be prepared to move quickly when positions open. “People who haven’t visited the website in a number of years are logging in” to see what positions are available. “We’re seeing job seekers updating their résumés and their profiles and getting ready for what is to come.”

The company began hosting free webinars to keep those seeking aviation careers informed and up to date on the most effective ways to search for a job in the current climate. Each webinar is customized to a different facet of the aviation industry, “from pilots to mechanics to engineers and more.” The sessions cover how to use the online search firm’s tools to maximize job search efforts, along with résumé and interview tips. Hutter said “there has been a 73-percent increase in new members” as a result of the webinars. also offers a skill-building tool that helps those interested in aviation careers narrow their focus and pinpoint their own key abilities.

She pointed out that reduced advertising budgets and fewer visits by airline recruiters doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any jobs. “We’re telling people that just because a company isn’t advertising, it doesn’t mean they’re not hiring.”

She said job seekers could try a more direct approach to contacting aviation businesses by doing research to learn whom to contact, making an introductory phone call, and following up with a personal visit, when possible. “If there’s a company out there that you want to work for, just start networking,” Hutter advised. “Aviation has some [of] the best networking I’ve seen. Maybe you know someone who knows someone” who can get you in the door. “Let a potential employer know that you are really interested. You can’t just sit there, you have to follow up, be more proactive, and do the legwork” to draw attention to your skill set.

In late June, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University flight school students that he was optimistic about the future of air travel. He encouraged the aspiring professional aviators to continue pursuing aviation and aerospace career paths because there are “a lot of great opportunities to get involved in aviation and a lot of great things going on.”

David Tulis

David Tulis

Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Career, Aviation Industry, COVID19

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