Careers in Aerospace
Aerospace is one of the largest career fields in the United States and the world. Jobs are
available in everything from design and manufacture of large jet aircraft to flying as a pilot in
small ones in the Alaskan bush. In this lecture, I will give you an overview of some of the jobs
available and the current qualifications necessary to successfully obtain many of these
Some of you already have a preconceived 'dream job' that you are set on obtaining. Your
plans might be to become a pilot, an aerospace engineer, or an astronaut. I will not try to
diminish your dreams, but I've found in my years of teaching in aviation, that many who were
set on one job changed their minds when they found out more about the career. For many
who planned on becoming commercial pilots, they later altered their plans to become
successful airline managers or simply used their flying skills in an entirely different career
field. It is excellent to focus on one area, but at this point in your education, it is worth
examining many areas within a field.
As a former professional commercial pilot, and as a former advisor for the UVSC Aviation
Science Program, I feel I have a good comprehension of the job market. Aerospace is a
rapidly changing and dynamic career field. The qualifications I give you in this class may
completely change only two years from now. Subscription to career and job hunting
publications when you are ready to apply for employment is usually worth the investment.
Aviation Hiring Cycles
The aviation industry is cyclical in nature. This means that major segments of the industry,
including the largest airlines and airplane manufacturers, react to economic changes. Usually,
an economic recession will hit airlines and manufacturers early while they are also the last
segments to recover from a recession.
This is because airlines depend on discretionary travel from tourists and business people.
When economic times weaken, businesses and tourists cut out trips they don’t need to take.
The result is a continuous series of high-paced hiring during economic good times and little
hiring or layoffs during the bad times. The bad times can become worse if large airlines go
into bankruptcy, flooding the market with qualified mechanics, pilots and flight attendants.
Two recent bad cycles happened from 1990-1993 and 2000 to the current day. The current
bad cycle is worse because of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Second Gulf War.
While some news is very bad, other segments of the aviation industry continue to hire. For
example, while United Airlines, US Airways, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and Delta
Airlines layoff thousands of positions, many regional airlines continue to hire and grow.
During economic bad times, it is wise to complete degrees, build experience, and patiently