Qantas aircraft on the apron

Flying Careers

The aviation industry has one of the highest and most consistent growth rates of any industry over many decades. The turbulent events of 2001-2003 will recede in impact as the globalization of trade, business and tourism continue. The career opportunities in this industry are not limited to being a pilot or working for an airline.

In civil aviation there are broad career fields for professional pilots:

Qantas Club
  • General aviation ( flight instructor, charter pilots)
  • Airlines (regional and major)
  • Other work (corporate pilot, aerial survey)

To be employable, pilots must have qualified for a commercial pilot license (CPL). This includes many hours of flying training plus a number of theory examinations. Typically a new CPL holder would also need either a command instrument rating (CIR) or an instructor rating in order to be able to fill the requirements of an employer.

Most employers will expect new pilots to have gained generally a minimum of around 250-500 hrs total experience. There is wide variety of work in aviation including corporate jet flying, commuter flying, helicopter flying and aerial survey work. All these fields have their own requirements and rewards.

Most airlines require new pilots to have substantial flying experience beyond basic training. The path to a career as a pilot within an airline customarily requires a period working within the general aviation sector to gain flying experience. For this reason, most flying graduates aspiring to a career as an airline pilot will spend time working as a flying instructor, charter pilot or in some other general aviation flying activity. The accumulation of flying experience is an important part of the career strategy of a pilot planning to join a regional, domestic, or international airline. Airlines may employ pilots with as little as 500-1000 hrs experience. You will need a Commercial Pilots license, Command Instrument Rating and theory subjects for the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). An additional edge is gained through higher qualification such as the Bachelor of Aviation.

Although there are presently many more pilots than jobs, the industry universally is forecast to continue growth for at least the next 20 years. The clear message for all prospective pilots is that if you are well trained with a sound aviation background, and if you have the will, commitment and motivation, you are likely to establish yourself to succeed in a rewarding, exciting and enjoyable profession.

When planning your aviation career you must consider a time when you could lose your aircrew medical or choose a new direction. A move into management or business role is quite common and the Master of Aviation Management is a great solution.

Airline staff
Careers possibilities are very wide and not limited to traditional administrative jobs.

Management Careers

There are many careers within aviation organization that require skills in management and increasingly these organizations want people who can be of immediate value. An aviation degree from UNSW provides the relevant skills.

The organizations which the degree is designed to target includes airlines of all sizes and nationalities, airport owners, government agencies such as the Commonwealth Department of Transport and similar bodies, tourism authorities looking for aviation experts, air traffic control bodies, management areas of the Defence Force, management consultant organizations and air safety authorities.

Some of the specific areas in which the management stream will provide training include airport management, airline scheduling, route economic planning, fleet planning, crew management, corporate management, marketing management, air freight management, engineering and aircraft maintenance management and management in government regulatory bodies. Students could enter careers in safety management or, with further post-graduate training, human factors.

The possibilities of careers are very wide and not limited to traditional administrative jobs. The industry is becoming more complex and sophisticated, and this means organizations are looking for better trained people in many employment situations, and not just in traditional administrative and management areas. Industry is also looking for people who have a wide industry knowledge and all-round capabilities.