Know your In-Flight Air Marshall from Your Ground Marshall
We see confusion out there in Airport Jobs. A lot of it. You kind folks are interested in working at the airport, but you don’t understand how the airport, or its tenants (service providers), operate.
Fact – only a tiny fraction of airport employees works for the airport itself. The airport has the facilities (terminals and runways) and services. Most jobs are with sub-contracted companies or tenant companies based at the airfield. Allow us to explain with examples.
Airport Employment - Air Careers
So, if you have a role in mind or you would like to know more about who the employers might be. Then read on.
We like to be practical. So, we have used two major international airports (New York’s JFK and London Heathrow) We do this to show you how you might better locate the employers who provide the services you prefer. And find these roles at the airport.
Airports can be state owned or privately owned. Or a combination of both. Airports are like municipal golf courses; the owners of the airport can bring in experienced companies. This is far more prevalent outside of the US where 99.9% of airports are owned by the local branch of the state.
But in Europe for example, there are companies like AENA and FRAPORT, both of whom run several airports. Airports are concerned with two things. Getting airlines to operate from them. And passenger numbers. Most jobs are therefore around maximizing this. So go to the airport website and find out who the management team is and visit their website.
JFK is owned by the Ny Port Authority and their jobs are on the INDEED website.
Airlines employ people at the airport as well as their own operations staff. This could be check-in staff, Ground Operational staff, technical or sales. You can find these roles at the airline websites or again at INDEED.
|Shift, Physical, Technical
|Customer Services Rep
|Higher Diploma, Experience
|Shift, Confrontation resolution
|Higher Diploma, College
|Shift, Financial, organization
|Shift, Physical, Noise, Cold, Heat
|Airline, Freight Forwarder
|Shift, Physical, Noise, Safety, Technical
|Airport, Airport Authority
|Aviation Degree, Air Transport MBA
|Management, Leadership, Organization
|Fixed Based Operators
|Higher Diploma, Degree
|Shift, Management, Organization, Regulatory
|Shift, Physical, Leadership, Organization
|Shift, Financial, Management
|Airline, Airport, FBO
|Shift, Physical, Noise, Management, Cold/Heat
|Air Traffic Controller
|FAA, CAA, Military
|Degree, Specialist Skills
|Shift, Technical, Organization, Computational
|Airline, Catering Company, Airport
|Diploma, Health Certificate
|Shift, Culinary skills, H&S
|Shift, Customer Service, organization,
*Salary is Median Range in US 2021 dollars according to the US Bureau of Labor statistics. This has been crossed referenced with five top G7 countries and found to be within 3-5%. For indicative purposes only.
Airport Ground Handling Agents
In terms of numbers of staff Ground Ops tends to be the biggest. There are distinct roles here, but they all work for the same agents. Check-in staff, ramp agent, airside agent, Ground agent. Most people you see around the aircraft are ramp staff working for third party agents who are contracted directly by the airline.
Those guys and girls that marshal aircraft into parking positions, or baggage handlers? They are handling agent staff and they are trained in all these applications including how to drive the various vehicles you see, including push-back trucks.
Airport Security Staff
You are thinking about the Screening staff. These are the people responsible for checking passenger and their cabin baggage into the SRA (security restricted area). We have an explainer piece on the security staff at airports. In the USA, this is the TSA.
Airport Retail Jobs
Mostly Duty free. But other well-known shops, cafés, and bars. These companies bid for access to real estate at the airport and pay top dollar for locations. The airports themselves run duty-free shops given the value and revenue stream generated, and there is a whole ecosystem on how these customers can be sold everything. From perfume to a new Ferrari.
Air Traffic Control
There are two types of Air Traffic Control. Controllers at the airport and there are enroute control centers housed in large buildings somewhere not at the airport. But the ATC control function is also State, or Government controlled, and all jobs would be available through these state websites. We do have a beginners guide to being a Controller in 2022 if you feel you have those skills.
Most meals served on airplanes are prepared at the airport in Catering buildings. They are stored in ATLAS trolleys and brought straight to the airplane where airline staff load them.
Maintenance and Engineering
At the airport there are technical companies who need access to the aircraft they need to check, service or repair. And there are many of these FBO. There are “whole” aircraft solutions providers, engine specialists. Others that do the daily checks you need. And some are wheels and brakes guys. Some are parts providers. Too many to list here but again you can INDEED check these job listings at your airport.
The FAA. The UK CAA and the DGCA are just some examples of government bodies that ensure all regulated entities comply with the laws of the land. These people mostly employ inspectors. And these inspectors can be specialists in everything. Ex-pilots can be FAA inspectors sent out to spot check Delta, or EL AL. Or Emirates.
They can board aircraft and make sure that nothing is amiss. Ensuring pilots are certified, that aircraft are in a safe working condition, and have the paperwork to prove it. Other technical staff can crawl all over a B777, or an A320 to make sure that the aircraft is serviceable and compliant. There are also Security Inspectors.
Making sure the security system or secure supply chain is working the way it should. They sometimes try to get through security without documents, or with weapons in the hope they will be caught. If you miss them and they get through, you will be looking for a new role.
They could be on the ramp or could try to board the aircraft. And if you are cabin crew you better confront them (nicely) and ask for their credentials. Because they want you to practice for when you might have to catch actual bad guys.
The primary objective here was not to give the complete list of roles that you have at the airport. The objective is to make sure that when you are looking for jobs or you are approached by a business, you can check them out to see what kind of company and/or employer they are.
And what the role might entail. The other point we would like to make is the issue of training. When you are at the airport there are several courses that you must take.
Most annually. These courses are either mandated by law or made compulsory by the airport. Security training, Airfield Safety, Ramp Driving, Dangerous Goods Awareness, and de-icing. Given the cost of these aircraft they really, really want to make sure they are damaged in some way.