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The 10 hottest careers in aviation

Editor's note: This article was updated January 19 to correct the spelling of Vertex Aerospace. We regret the error.

We reached out to industry experts for the most up-to-date insights on aviation hiring trends and the most in-demand careers.

Aviation Career

After a tumultuous year of pandemic-induced layoffs and forced retirements of second career pilots and mechanics in 2020, aviation hiring trends in 2022 and beyond are looking up.

With more retirements on the horizon, Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook reports a need for 612,000 new pilots, 626,000 new maintenance technicians, and 886,000 new cabin crew members over the next 20 years.

Joel Webley, board chair of The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, predicts that “as travel rebounds, recruiting and training aviators will remain vital to maintaining and expanding staffing requirements in the future.” OBAP has committed to “working to create an even wider pipeline of aerospace professionals by exposing youth to the profession at an early age, supporting high school and college students through scholarships and mentorship opportunities, and developing young professionals so that they are prepared and ready to step into these roles.”

According to aviation jobs site JSfirm.com, there has been a 30-percent increase in job postings from pre-pandemic numbers, giving job seekers an edge as companies compete to attract quality candidates

Professional pilot remains the most in-demand career in the aviation industry. According to hiring data collected by Future & Active Pilot Advisors, 5,426 pilots were hired by 12 major airlines last year, making 2021 the best year for hiring since 2000.

The need for professional pilots isn’t just creating a hiring boom but has also initiated changes to long-held hiring standards with announcements from major airlines like Delta dropping the bachelor's degree requirement for applicants. This creates even more opportunities for experienced pilots to get in with the majors.

Airframe and powerplant mechanics, A&Ps with inspection authorization, and avionics technician careers are also in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 11-percent growth in overall employment from 2020 to 2030.  Right now, a number of companies are currently working toward a new generation of electric aircraft and, if successful, demand for maintenance professionals would only increase.

For those thinking about a career in aviation maintenance, JSfirm.com made this comparison: “You can go to a four-year college, get out with your degree in business and earn $40k-$50k/year maybe, or you can go to an 18-month school, be an aircraft mechanic or avionics technician and go to work for Vertex Aerospace and start out at $41/hour with overtime.”

The hiring boom within the major airlines and larger companies is tapping general aviation’s talent pool, accelerating the departure of staff from flight schools and maintenance shops as those career-minded employees advance to top-paying jobs with the airlines. This leaves smaller flight schools and local aviation maintenance shops constantly searching for quality candidates. With continued growth opportunities and openings in the aviation industry, right now is a great time to consider a career in aviation. It’s a candidate-driven market and those interested have more options than ever.

Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Career, Aviation Industry

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