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Careers in Aviation: more than just pilots

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It can be said that the dullest day in aviation still tops the most interesting day in almost any other industry. There is something about the business of flight. It gets in your blood, and once there it does not leave. The 2017 edition of Wings and Helicopters Careers in Aviation (CIA) guide offers an introduction to a variety of careers in aviation and aerospace. It provides helpful tips for choosing a flight school, and sets expectations for new graduates breaking into the industry.

 

Canada has one of the most dynamic and diverse aviation and aerospace industries in the world, including a strong airline industry, corporate aviation prospects, the second largest helicopter fleet in the world, and Montreal – the hub of the world’s fifth largest aerospace industry. It is but one of several dynamic aerospace hubs across the country, all offering a variety of maintenance, avionics, software and engineering opportunities in a variety of exciting disciplines.


Canada also has hundreds of first-rate flight schools, colleges (flight and maintenance) and university programs to maintain and support industry growth and help potential new graduates chart a course along one of the many career paths available. 

A Canadian licence, trade certificate or diploma also helps punch the ticket for many graduates to work almost anywhere in the world. So, it is sometimes good to take a global perspective when looking at demand for skills. According to the Boeing Airplane Company, the world’s commercial airline industry will need 617,000 new commercial pilots over the next 20 years. That represents approximately 31,000 new pilots a year, not including filling demand for corporate jets, helicopters, military and law enforcement and emergency services. 

Demand for pilots always grabs the headlines, but it does not tell the entire story. The Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) estimates that some 400 aerospace firms employ more than 80,000 Canadians across the country. And while many basic aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) functions have peeled away to lower wage countries, Canada remains a global player in higher end and more sophisticated MRO, with job opportunities spread across the country. 

Indeed, the same Boeing survey reports that 679,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians and 814,000 new cabin crew will be needed by 2035 to keep the airplanes flying and supporting passenger growth. Demand for maintenance technicians has grown 11.3 per cent over the last year. These numbers add up to strong demand for pilots and other skilled professionals in Canada’s aviation and aerospace industry. 

Still, while the jobs are available or will be opening up in the near future as older pilots exit the flight deck and technicians lay down their tools, aviation remains a complex and competitive business. Flight school on its own may no longer be sufficient, and a pilot’s licence might need to be linked with a college degree or university diploma. 

The 2017 edition of Careers in Aviation is presented in three sections:

  • Flying the aircraft (including flight schools, flight colleges and schools that specialize in unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs)
  • Designing, building and maintaining the aircraft (including maintenance colleges and universities that offer aviation programs)
  • Supporting the aircraft, which is an introduction to careers in airport operations, air traffic control and flight services.


The listings directory covering each section are intended as an introductory snapshot of the types of flight schools, colleges (flying and aviation technician) and universities and is by no means a comprehensive list. This guide is meant to be a jumping off point for your research, so please dive in once your path is more focused.

Whether you are looking to fly fixed-wing airplanes or helicopters, launch a career in the sky with an airline or corporate operators, or keep your feet planted firmly on the ground in manufacturing and maintenance or industry support, CIA 2017 is an excellent opening reference point. Good luck on your journey!


 

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