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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Air Transportation

Majors Overview April 8, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in air transportation and their coursework, job and wage outlook, and licensure and continuing education choices.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Air Transportation

Students aspiring to pursue careers in airline management, air transportation logistics, or air traffic control would benefit by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in air transportation management and administration.

Coursework in some programs focuses on engineering and physics principles; management in the air transportation industry may be the primary focus of other programs. Program coursework in air transportation majors varies according to the school chosen. While incoming students to air transportation programs may not have to satisfy any prerequisites, an introductory course may have to be completed by applicants to the program in some schools.

Technical instruction may be available in business fundamentals, management, and aircraft structures to students enrolled in some programs through an array of courses detailing air transportation systems, aircraft flight, and airport operations. Technical subjects form the focus of other air transportation majors, wherein students study topic areas such as engineering, systems analysis, and aircraft engine types.

A few schools include several aeronautical majors; these include aerial environmental studies, air traffic controlling, and airline or airport administration. Varying according to intended career and field of study, federally regulated licensure may be mandatory for professionals in this field.


Program coursework in air transportation management majors typically includes courses on the history of air transportation development and how it influences the global economy, in addition to societies and politics. Core coursework may commonly include subject areas such as:

•Airport and airline management
•Business accounting, communication, and administration
•Aviation and aeronautical law
•U.S. air transportation policies and procedures

Coursework related to majors focusing on engineering may cover topic areas such as:

•Physics and aerodynamics
•Aircraft systems and controls maintenance
•Aircraft composition
•Plane and engine design

Students aspiring to pilot small or commercial aircraft may avail majors offered in some schools that include courses such as:

•Aviation laws and regulations
•Navigation, air stability, and weather
•Single-engine and jet and commercial plane operations
•Crew and passenger safety procedures

A capstone research project may mark the culmination of many of these programs. Participation in student-run or commercial events and organizations for air transportation majors may also be encouraged at several schools.

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2012, aerospace engineers brought in an average annual wage of $103,720. Over the same period, aircraft mechanics and service technicians banked a wage of $55,230 on average, even as commercial pilots and air traffic controllers earned respective average wages of $98,410 and $122,530 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2010, about two out of three pilots held membership in a union.

Licensure and Continuing Education Choices

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has listed licensure and training requirements for pilots, aircraft mechanics, and air traffic controllers. Those who graduate from a bachelor’s degree program in air transportation can opt for continuing education by earning a master’s degree in aviation management, logistics, or engineering. Continuing education opportunities are also available through the FAA via professional certification courses for aircraft designers, maintenance workers, and pilots.

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