While air-traffic controllers ensure that each pilot is safely ushered to and from the skies, aviation operations specialists are tasked with organizing those flights and crews with an eye toward organization, safety and expedience. To become a flight specialist, you can take a few paths. One includes joining a branch of the military to help coordinate a base's air fleet; another involves civilian airline fleets, for which extensive on-the-job training is required. Many of these professionals also have a bachelor's degree in aviation management or at least have attended several college courses on the subject.
The military forces of most nations include professionals devoted to coordinating defense fleet missions. In the United States, the Air Force, Navy and Army each allow recruits to become a flight specialist on bases, either stateside or abroad. These personnel receive months of specialized training to coordinate flight plans, oversee airfield emergencies, and maintain accurate records of flights, cargo and even passengers. Though college education is not required for military aviation specialists, it is preferred. A security clearance also is a common requirement for these positions, since sensitive information is regularly handled.
Aviation operations specialists also are employed at private and public airports across the world. To become a flight specialist as a civilian, your high school education should focus on statistics and other more advanced mathematics as well as computer technology, English and advanced science like physics. To secure these positions, candidates also are often required to either complete a bachelor's degree in aviation management or at least coursework in aviation. Experience of at least two years of airfield work also is a common prerequisite for employment.
According to California's Employment Development Department, the state's 410 airfield operations specialists earned between $21.74 US Dollars (USD) and $33.69 USD in 2005. Of those 410 flight specialists, one in three had a bachelor's degree, and about half had attended some college. The rest were trained on the job.
To become a flight specialist in the civilian realm, applications usually are submitted to a state or local government that runs the airport at which professionals will work. A drug test, valid driver's license, and background check are commonly required for employment. Some even require that candidates can carry at least 40 lbs (about 18 kg). Employers tend to favor candidates with a calm demeanor who could handle emergency situations fluidly and customers with respect.