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The systems and forces at work during air travel are highly complex and require the understanding of skilled professionals to help everything go smoothly. Aviation science degree programs help students learn the finer points of aviation theory and technology so people all over the world can stay safely in the sky.

Aviation careers typically require a great deal of technical knowledge or skill, and many employers prefer applicants who have completed some formal education in an aviation science program or a related field, such as aircraft technology or air traffic management. Here are a few of the duties graduates may be trained to handle on the job:

  • Checking aircraft condition before and after operation
  • Operating cockpit instrumentation and navigating aircraft in flight
  • Monitoring movement of aircraft both on the ground and in the air
  • Issuing takeoff and landing instructions to industrial or commercial pilots
  • Managing communications from air traffic control centers at multiple airports
  • Overseeing maintenance operations at a variety of aviation facilities

Aviation Science: Degrees and Coursework

There are many different types of aviation degree programs available, each with its own set of required courses and electives. However, there are some core concepts that students can expect to encounter in almost any program:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aircraft systems
  • Aviation meteorology
  • Airline administration
  • Airport management
  • Aviation security
  • FAA regulations
  • Transportation safety
  • Physical geography

Aviation science degrees are available to students at multiple levels of educational attainment, from non-degree professional certificates to research degrees at the doctoral level. Students who wish to advance their career into the fields of management, instruction or research typically need a master's degree or higher.

Career Outlook for Aviation Science Majors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of airline and commercial pilots is expected to see little to no change between 2012 and 2022, while aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians should see job growth of about two percent. Air traffic controller job opportunities are projected to stay relatively steady as well, with an expected increase of about one percent within the same time frame.

While actual salary figures depend quite a bit on education and experience, a 2013 BLS report shows these median annual wages for positions in the field:

  • Aircraft mechanics and service technicians: $55,980
  • Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers: $115,190
  • Air traffic controllers: $121,280
  • Transportation managers: $83,890

Aviation science programs can also help prepare graduates for several related careers. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians, for example, who help develop and test new aircraft, earned median wages of $62,680 in 2013. Graduates with a solid engineering background may also go on to become aerospace engineers, who took home a 2013 median salary of $103,870.

Sources:
"Airline and Commercial Pilots," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Transportation-and-Material-Moving/Airline-and-commercial-pilots.htm
"Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes532011.htm
"Air Traffic Controllers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Transportation-and-Material-Moving/Air-traffic-controllers.htm
"Air Traffic Controllers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes532021.htm
"Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493011.htm
"Aerospace Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes172011.htm
"Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes173021.htm
"Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes113071.htm

Pursue your Aviation major today…

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