Airport Operations Roles - The Complete Guide

The Roles of Airport Operations Staff

Airports are the biggest employers in our industry. We want to explain how airports work, who the main employers are and the key roles that are standard across most – if not all – international airports. Marshalling for example. 

We are lucky in aviation, the way we do business is standardized through ICAO and IATA as well as other Training and process organizations detailed further down in this article. 

However we are a career site and so the focus will be on the roles and career-paths within each of the different parts of the Airport. So let’s fly;

This webpage on Airport Operations Roles will help you understand...
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    Airport Operations by Location 

    Landside Operations Roles
    • Terminal Building Management 
    • Retail 
    • Check-in / Ground Handling 
    • Passenger Facilitation
    • Security 
     Airside Operations Roles
    • Security 
    • Ramp/Apron Handling 
    • Ground Handling Companies
    • Retail / Duty Free
    • Wildlife Management 
    • Sustainability 
    • Fueling 
    • Cargo / Loadmaster
    Air Traffic Management Roles
    • Air Traffic Controller (Control tower)
    • Ground Crew / Ground Controller
    • Aircraft Marshaller 
    • Aircraft Movement / Taxi Engineer
    • Runway Management 

    Airport Operations Jobs By Sector

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    Airport Security Roles

    There are many AVSEC roles at the airport, not just passenger and baggage screening. We have a dedicated page on all the roles!

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    Air Traffic Controller

    There is a global shortage of air traffic controllers. Why? There is a list of skills you need to have and excel at. The good news? You can use our guide to know if you qualify.

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    Airport Operations

    This resource is for anyone seeking jobs at the airport and want to know which ones pay the best and what qualifications are desirable. 

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    Airline Flight Operations

    This is an overview of the various roles and responsibilities involved in managing an airline’s flight operations under both FAA and EASA jurisdictions.

    What are the Airport Jobs?

    We ‘re glad you asked!

    Because we know Airport Jobs!. Now, who manages these jobs and how they recruit can change depending on where you live. But the roles, training and most importantly – Management qualifications – are standard. 

    And the regulatory framework is standardized worldwide – thanks to ICAO, IATA and others, so once you know the sources and standards, these should apply worldwide. 

    Airport Operations Jobs and Salaries

    Role Employer Salary (p/a)* Qualification Attributes
    Operations Manager Industry Wide $ 97,500 Degree Shift, Physical, Technical
    Customer Services Rep Airline $ 39,000 Higher Diploma, Experience Shift, Confrontation resolution
    Ticket Agent Airline $ 45,600 Higher Diploma, College Shift, Financial, organization
    Baggage Handler Airline $ 30,000 Higher Diploma Shift, Physical, Noise, Cold, Heat
    Cargo Agent Airline, Freight Forwarder $ 48,500 Higher Diploma Shift, Physical, Noise, Safety, Technical
    Airport Manager Airport, Airport Authority $ 115,000 Aviation Degree, Air Transport MBA Management, Leadership, Organization
    FBO Manager Fixed Based Operators $ 100,000 Higher Diploma, Degree Shift, Management, Organization, Regulatory
    Station Manager Airline $ 79,000 Higher Diploma Shift, Physical, Leadership, Organization
    Concession Staff Retail Company $ 30,000 Higher Diploma Shift, Financial, Management
    Ramp Agent Airline, Airport, FBO $ 45,500 Higher Diploma Shift, Physical, Noise, Management, Cold/Heat
    Air Traffic Controller FAA, CAA, Military $ 130,000 Degree, Specialist Skills Shift, Technical, Organization, Computational
    Food Preparer/Chef Airline, Catering Company, Airport $ 59,500 Diploma, Health Certificate Shift, Culinary skills, H&S
    Sky Cap Airline $ 45,000 Higher Diploma 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. 

    Safety and Regulations in Airport Operations

    Safety is a priority in all airport operations, and airports must abide by regulations to ensure the safety of passengers, employees, and aircraft. Airports must comply with laws set forth by EASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that govern air traffic control and the safety of aircraft. Specific regulations cover everything from runway design to maintenance standards for aircraft.

    There are a number of roles and responsibilities that apply at the airport that you might be skilled at but did not know they were needed at the airport. 

    Aviation Authorities and Oversight

    • Security Protocols

    • Emergency Response

    Who this is for?

    This resource is for anyone seeking jobs at the airport. And want to know which ones pay the best and what qualifications are desirable. 

    We have a number of Articles and Guides that dig deeper into the roles and requirements. Click on each below to discover more. 

    Specialist Airport Operations Roles

    There are roles at the airport that are unique, and their entry points are either specific to that role or are via another sector. Policing being the prime example. 

    • IT/Cybersecurity. Information System specialists are in every sector and aviation is no different. Cyber security is defined in the Avsec area. There are also critical information systems within aviation that need to be protected. 
    • Meteorologists. Degree qualified meteorologists are employed at all airports. For Air Traffic reasons and for ground operations conditions. Snow, Ice, extreme heat, and micro downbursts are just some of the conditions to be considered when designing and operating airports. 
    • Technicians. Airports have complex ATC systems such as Radar, ILS (Instrument landing systems), Ground radar and an array of electronic based information systems.

    On-time Performance/ Daily flights

    • Scheduling Coordinator. Aircraft “slots” are the windows of operation approved for the airline at the airports. This is a whole ecosystem, and some slots are worth more than the aircraft itself. This is an airline role, but the airport is heavily invested in the subject and there are roles that are connected to airport revenue and ancillary results. 
    • Flight Dispatcher. We have a whole section on this on the Airline Operations page. This is an airline role but sometimes ramp managers, load masters and station managers are referred to as dispatchers. But in the USA, Flight dispatchers are as qualified (theoretically) as pilots and share flight routing responsibilities with pilots. In the EU they are known as Operations Controllers. 

    Modern Airport Management Systems

    • Fire and Crash Rescue. These are specialist roles linked directly to the fire crews and brigades you would find in cities. These are Airport managed and state controlled. 
    • Security Specialist. Again we have a great resource page on the Avsec area. There are many roles within the area and ALL Airport staff have multiple Avsec courses and qualifications that are required. 
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