Air Transportation Degree and Certificate Program Information

Oct 26, 2019

Essential Information

Certificate programs in aviation safety are designed for those interested in aircraft accident investigator positions. A student interested in directing air traffic might consider an associate's degree program in air traffic control. While bachelor's degree programs in aviation management could prepare a student for an administrative career throughout the air transportation industry.

Air transportation program fields include aviation management and safety, air traffic control, airport management and others. The FAA employment test is generally required for air traffic controllers.

Undergraduate Certificate in Aviation Safety

The prerequisite for both undergraduate certificate and degree programs in aviation safety is a high school diploma or the GED equivalent. Throughout the certificate program, enrolled students receive training in a number of areas including accident investigation, human factors and safety management.

The core curriculum typically focuses on security and safety measures in the field of aviation. But it may also give students the option to design their program plan around a specific subject area within aviation safety. Coursework could include the following topics:

  • Safety management systems
  • Ground safety for managers
  • Accident investigation of aircraft
  • Human factors affecting aviation safety
  • Accident response preparedness
  • Error and threat management

Associate's Degree in Air Traffic Control

Students wishing to pursue careers as air traffic controllers should verify that the program is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Students admitted to an associate's degree program develop the ability to direct an aircraft using air and ground navigation skills.

The curriculum often offers students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with simulation equipment. Students could complete coursework that includes the study of weather as it relates to aviation, radar system technologies and regulations for air traffic control. Coursework might include the following topics:

  • Flight science
  • Tower and airspace operations
  • Aviation history and law
  • Flight procedures and aviation safety
  • Air navigation

Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management

Students might pursue a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management or a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Aviation Management. Options for students who would like to concentrate the program on a specific area may include airport management, aircraft dispatch or aviation studies.

Students develop skills needed for a position in aviation management. As part of the curriculum, students commonly complete coursework in management and business. However, the focus of the coursework could also be on aviation, including the following:

  • Airport design and operations
  • Law of aviation
  • Aeronautics and aviation technology
  • Aviation security
  • Systems of air traffic control

Popular Career Options

Graduates of many certificate and degree programs typically seek administrative positions including career titles such as airport manager or director of operations. Such positions could be found in a number of areas including air transportation, aircraft sales or airport planning. Students may work for the aerospace industry in a number of private companies, like airlines or aircraft manufacturers, or for the government. Air traffic controllers almost always work for the FAA.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the mean annual salary for air traffic controllers, as reported in May 2018, was $120,830 ( Also according to the BLS, employment opportunities are expected to show 1% growth between 2018 and 2028.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Students interested in continuing their education within the field of aviation safety might consider a bachelor's degree program in aerospace administration with a concentration in aerospace security. Master's degree programs with concentrations in aviation safety and security may also be of interest; one such degree is a Master of Science in Aviation Administration.

Generally, to be considered for employment as an air traffic controller, students are required to pursue further training. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), responsible for hiring nearly all air traffic controllers, offers a training academy. Students who complete an associate's degree program in air traffic control that is approved by the FAA, also called the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI), could bypass some of the training required. To be considered for employment with the FAA, students who complete an associate's degree program in air traffic control are typically required to take the FAA's pre-employment test.

Students who are interested in a career in the air transportation field have various education options depending on their interests. Graduates are often prepared for employment in the aviation sector and can opt to obtain certifications or additional training.

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