Airport Ramp Agent: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Airport ramp agents require a little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and general requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Airport ramp agents are sometimes known as fleet service agents, clerks or baggage handlers. Agents load and unload suitcases, luggage and cargo from aircraft and transportation hubs. A high school diploma or the equivalent is the standard educational requirement for this position. Candidates may also have to pass background and drug tests and have the ability to lift heavy objects. Previous baggage handling experience may be preferred by some employers, but on-the-job training may also be offered.

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Other Requirements On-the-job training, valid driver's license, background check, drug test, and/or ability to lift heavy objects may be required
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*12% for all baggage porters and bellhops
Mean Salary (2013)*$21,920 for baggage porters and bellhops in the air transportation industry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary for an Airport Ramp Agent

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for baggage handlers in the scheduled air transportation industry was $21,920 as of May 2013 ( The middle 50% of baggage handlers in all industries earned between $17,980 and $27,450, according to the BLS. Baggage handlers in general could expect average job growth of 12% between 2012 and 2022. Baggage handlers promoted to aircraft cargo handling supervisors in the air transportation industry received average annual wages of $48,790, stated the BLS.

Job Duties for an Airport Ramp Agent

Airport ramp agents begin daily operations by picking up luggage and cargo from conveyor belts in designated areas. Agents then transfer these loads onto container carts, to be transported from the main hub to the aircraft. Once agents have arrived at the designated aircraft, they may either manually transfer the shipments from the vehicle to the aircraft or use a belt conveyor; a specialized loading vehicle that uses a conveyor belt to raise cargo so that it can be easily dropped into storage spaces overhead.

According to job postings on in December 2014, airport ramp agents may also use specialized vehicles called tugs to assist the airplane pilot in pushing back from the terminal. Ramp agents may also use hand instruments to direct the pilot. Additionally, agents may use tugs to guide the plane into the terminal after landing. Other duties include operating deicer units, washing airplane windows and servicing aircraft lavatories.

Airport Ramp Agent Requirements

Job postings on in December 2014 indicate that air transportation companies may prefer candidates who have earned their high school diploma or GED certificate. Some companies may favor candidates who have previous experience in baggage handling or customer service. However, according to the BLS, most airport ramp agent positions don't require any postsecondary education or training. Entry-level agents typically receive some on-the-job training, which may last one week.

Aside from educational requirements, employers prefer candidates who have a valid driver's license. Due to the manual work required, applicants must also be able to continuously lift over 70 lbs. of weight, according to job postings from December 2014 in Additional requirements may include passing a background investigation and drug test.

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