Employment and jobs are always a hot topic in the airport community and across the aviation industry. There always seems to be a shortage of candidates. There are barriers to entry with many of the jobs that are available and let’s face it, it isn’t the easiest industry to be involved with. The hours can be unconventional and the work can be physically and emotionally taxing. If you love aviation and the fast-paced airport environment, there is no place you would rather be.
Sometimes a job at the airport, is just that, a job. There are so many jobs at the airports that literally can be done anywhere. People that work in retail, restaurants, hospitality, janitorial, transportation, back-office, and construction for example can do those jobs in many other locations. If they choose to do it at our country’s airports, they will be scrutinized to a high level. Security threats are real and therefore the people that staff the airports need to be vetted through a rigorous background checking system that includes being fingerprinted and enrolled into the FBI’s RAP Back database for continuous monitoring of criminal charges.
It can also be difficult to get to work at a busy airport. Parking is an issue at the airports for employees and often after parking their car, the staffer needs to get on a bus or Airtrain to get to their workplace. For many, the journey doesn’t end there. If they work in a Terminal, their workplace may be a very far walk to finally arrive at their station. Airport workers certainly get their steps in while at work.
Airports don’t really close, the operations go on 24 hours a day. Usually, it is staffed at the highest levels when there are flights with passengers, but work continues on behind the scenes all the time. Working at the airport will most likely mean working nights, weekends and holidays at some point. That isn’t always easy to juggle with work and personal life balance concerns for many.
So the hours are irregular, it’s hard to get to work and you have to have a stellar background in order to just get the job. So why do people do it? It’s known that jobs at the airport pay higher than most of the same classification of jobs outside the airport. That is to compensate those individuals for making it through those barriers to entry. Many times the jobs will also come with benefits ranging from health benefits to flight benefits depending on the job and the company. And for some, it’s not just a job, it’s a career and a lifestyle.
Those who make the aviation industry a career, absolutely love it. They are all in, they fully immerse themselves in the community and culture of aviation and airports. It’s common to find many long-time airport employees changing careers but still staying at the airport. The experiences they have, the people they meet, and colleagues that became like family are among the top reasons people devote themselves to the industry. No two days will look the same when you have millions of people coming through your workplace every year from every corner of the world.
There are so many different ways to enter the industry, anyone from pilots to bartenders are always in demand. There seem to be endless reports of shortages for flight crews, mechanics for the planes and ground service equipment, terminal operations management, customer-facing positions, cargo workers, FAA Air Traffic Controllers, TSA Agents, and truckers.
Some budget-busting ways to train for hot jobs in the industry locally are through programs offered at Vaughn College, Farmingdale University, BOCES in Farmingdale, and Fairleigh Dickinson University to name a few. These institutions are preparing their students for the jobs that are ready to be filled immediately. We’re talking pilots, AMT’s, engineers, transportation industry managers, and more. FDU even comes onsite to JFK and EWR Airports for classes in their MBA program.
We also have a gem of a program located in Queens called Aviation High School. They are many young people’s first exposure to the industry and all that it offers. The school is preparing kids as young as 14 years old to be ready for a career in aviation. It’s an amazing NYC public school program where kids must apply to be accepted. While meeting their High School requirements, they are also training to pass FAA licensing at the same time. Many of the teachers are aviation industry subject matter experts that worked in their fields and are now training the future of the industry. The school is very well supported by the aviation community, many of who are proud alumni of the school.
It is apparent that in order to keep the industry staffed at the required levels today and into the future more has to be done to expose kids as young as middle school about all there is to do at the airports. There are many programs throughout the year at places like The Cradle of Aviation bringing together students and aviation professionals to discuss the potential path to success in the industry. JFK, LGA, and EWR are economic engines in the community, more can be done to bring the community into the airport. While being a good neighbor is important, so is being a great employer of local residents.
If you’re looking for a job or a career change, check out the resources below:
- Metropolitan Airport News Job Board
- Council for Airport Opportunity (CAO)
- Endeavor Air Career Center
- Fairleigh Dickinson University MPA Public Administration Training
- Vaughn College
- Global Aviation Training Academy – Aircraft Dispatch Certification
- Farmingdale State College
- CUNY Aviation Institute at York College
- Western Suffolk BOCES Cchool of Aviation Maintenance Technology
- Aviation High School
- The Port Authority of NY & NJ Career Center
You will certainly find something that piques your interest in the endless opportunities that are now available. If you are an employer and you’re looking to attract qualified candidates, register with these services and get your offerings out there. If you’re an educational institution, now is a great time to get your success stories out there. Perhaps consider how to reach the individuals looking to enter the industry for the first time as a new chapter in their career ambitions. Not every student is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. There is a huge market of mature students looking to reinvent themselves through education.
Whether you are entering or returning to the local jobs market, considering training for a skilled job or career advancement, or just an aviation geek looking to get closer to the action, the New York airports are an amazing place to be around. Wheels up!
“There is a major labor shortage across just about every sector in the United States right now. Record number of Americans have quit their jobs to search for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Over the next few months, I believe airport employers will have to assess their pay rates and benefits to continue to attract the most qualified applicants. CAO is actively promoting job opportunities and the benefits that come with working at our local airports. We have seen an uptick in job-seeker traffic throughout September and October at our Career Centers and we hope to see this trend continue.”– Andrew Campbell, Executive Director of Council for Airport Opportunity