An airport is an entity that truly never sleeps. With 24×7 air traffic and passage of travelers, airports are always buzzing with activity. Have you ever thought about the fact that an airport you are transiting through is also one of the biggest employers in a city?
Airports generally have two kinds of businesses, those that service aviation and others, that service passengers. Aviation related businesses can be airline operations, airport security, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), education and training, cargo operations, fixed based operations (FBOs) and control tower. Passenger serving businesses can be lounges, hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores and pharmacies.
You can find jobs at any of these businesses depending on your skills or level of experience.
If you are passionate about airplanes and aviation, jobs at aviation related businesses can be found in technical domains or support domains.
Technical jobs can be in design and maintenance engineering with the airlines or as air traffic controllers in control towers where you help control and route the air traffic. Jobs in support domains can be as line employees, airport security personnel, and airline gate / counter ticket booking staff. Amongst the passenger serving businesses, restaurants, bars and cafes hire people as food preparers, operations supervisors and servers. In the retail stores, you can work as a salesperson, just like in a mall.
There are many ways to get these jobs, depending on what area of the airport operation you want to be a part of. Airlines often advertise jobs on their websites and public job boards and also hire extensively at job fairs. Most jobs at the control towers in the US are with the FAA. Jobs in airport security are usually found with the security agency who has a contract with the local airport authority. But as with any other industry, most of the hiring at the airport is done through the network of existing employees.
It is highly recommended that you utilize your network of friends, family or past colleagues to put the word out there that you are looking for work at the airport. This is your best shot at getting a job quickly. Another effective strategy is to go to the airport in person and network with your targeted employers. Get face to face with them and let them know what kind of work you are looking for. The third, but a more passive option is to use online tools and find advertised jobs. LinkedIn is a great portal to connect with people who work at the airport or to search for jobs. You can also check out portals like Aviation Employment Network, which brings you thousands of jobs advertised on various websites across the web all in one place.
One thing to keep in mind is that many jobs at the airport are in highly restricted areas, so the employers will need you to obtain security clearances. Make sure you maintain a clean social record with no criminal offences.
Working at the airport is definitely very exciting since you become part of a dynamic and high energy environment, and it’s a place where you can form long lasting friendships with other employees due to the nature of interactions in a close-knit system.