Airports are busy places that act as conduits; people and goods go to airports so they can fly on an aircraft to somewhere else.
Most airports do more than just move passengers around for holidays or business travel, they also act as emergency transport hubs for airborne ambulances, and vast quantities of cargo move through airports every day on its way from one place to another. Some airports also act as military transport hubs, training centres for everyone from pilots to paratroopers, and strategic defence assets.
There are a huge range of people working in airports, from air traffic controllers to the people serving coffee in the food court, but they all have a few things in common:
- Safety is a priority – everyone who works in the airport undergoes safety and security training, both to keep themselves safe but also to help passengers if needed.
- People tend to be efficient – airports are complex places that have to adhere to strict schedules, so people who work in them also have to prioritise efficiency.
- They move around a lot – airports are big, active spaces, and most workers will move about throughout the day (or night, if they’re working shifts).
The airport exists to help move people and things from one place to another. They do this by helping make sure everyone and everything gets onto and off of the right plane at the right time, and they also keep things safe and secure.
- Help passengers find the right plane and board safely
- Help arriving passengers disembark and leave the airport safely
- Load and unload cargo
- Ensure security checks take place in line with government regulations
- Keep the borders secure and screen international passengers and cargo
- Complete quarantine checks
- Maintain aircraft and other equipment
- Manage airspace around the airport
Airports are part of the wider Aviation and Transport Industry
Airports are just one cog in a much larger industry. The aviation industry also includes companies like the ones who manufacture aircraft, train, and employ pilots and other aircrew, and government organisations who monitor aviation safety standards to keep everyone compliant. The wider logistics industry transports cargo to the airport, and also offloads it to complete the journey.
Expect early mornings, late nights, and few desk jobs in an airport
Shift Work | Flexible Work | Few hybrid or work from home opportunities | Jobs in metro and regional locations | Strong future job growth
The majority of people who work in an airport work in operational roles, which means they need to be at work for the same hours that the airport is open. Most airports see their first flights arrive early in the morning, and the last flight leave very late at night, so some staff will need to be at work during these times.
Unless you work as aircrew, it’s unlikely that you would need to travel frequently because your work is all conducted in the one workplace, and, depending on your employer, you could be able to access flexible work arrangements. Working from home might not be as easy, because you need to be physically present to do many of the jobs in the airport, but some of those who work in office-based jobs (i.e. in human resources) have the potential to work from home, if your employer agrees.
You’ll find airports in metro and regional locations, including on tropical islands and in popular holiday destinations, so you should be able to find work in an airport in most places – in fact, in some towns they may be a major employer. The demand for air travel and cargo transport isn’t slowing down, and we expect strong job growth across most roles over the next 5 to 10 years.
The Career Clusters you’ll find in an airport
You’ll find every Cluster represented within an airport workplace, however most people either fit into Makers or Coordinators. This is because airports are essentially machines which process people and goods from one place to another, and they need a lot of Makers to operate the ‘machine’, and Coordinators to make sure the machine keeps running as it is supposed to.
How Makers work in an airport
Makers are the ‘doers’ – they are the people who operate equipment like the security scanners, baggage trains, and catering equipment in the food court, and they also maintain the aircraft and keep them running.
Airports need large numbers of Makers at all qualification levels, from the pilots who fly the aircraft and the air traffic controllers who tell them where to go, through to parking attendants and baggage handlers.
- Air Traffic Controller
- Data Centre Technician
- Aviation Technician
- Airfield Maintainer
- Baggage Handler
- Food Court Worker
How Coordinators work in an airport
Coordinators are the people who manage staff, administer the business operations, and keep things running. In the airport, they do things like create flight schedules, complete official paperwork, and coordinate the teams of people across each department.
You’ll find a lot of Coordinators within an airport, but they often work behind the scenes in offices or other official spaces, so you might not normally see them when you fly.
- Chief Executive Officer
- Human Resources Manager
- Flight Scheduler
- Office Administrator
- Border Security Manager
Where do you find Guardians in an airport?
You won’t find large numbers of Guardians in an airport, but these people play an important role in ensuring everyone travels safely. They work in the airport’s fire and rescue station and must respond quickly in an emergency. They also work as Safety Inspectors and oversee aircraft operations, and in border security and quarantine as Biosecurity Inspectors.
All aircrew undergo safety training so that in the event of an emergency they can support passengers to exit a plane safely, so while they are not primarily Guardians, flight attendants and other airport staff often share the tasks of other safety-focused Guardians.
- Aviation Firefighter
- Flight Safety Inspector
- Biosecurity Inspector
Where can you find Linkers in an airport?
The Linkers help connect the public (that’s us) with the things they need while they’re travelling. Flight Attendants, Information Officers, and the people working at the check-in desks are all Linkers, as are the servers working in the Food Court and retail spaces.
Linkers also work on the airport’s communications and marketing teams, and design campaigns to raise awareness in the community of the airport and the opportunities it offers.
- Retail Worker
- Flight Attendant
- Information Officer
- Social Media Manager
- Communications Officer
Who are the Informers in an airport?
These are the specialists who handle things like the legal regulations and compliance requirements, and the financial operations for the airport. External trainers are also brought in to ensure teams remain compliant with the latest safety regulations, and some airports may hire other specialist staff to work on projects, for example if they are undertaking cultural training.
- Legal Officer
- Chief Financial Officer
- OH&S Trainer
- Cultural Awareness Trainer
How do Innovators work in an airport?
Airports don’t tend to create things that are new, which means you won’t find too many Innovators in an airport. Innovators in aviation tend to work in companies creating new aircraft or engines, and while they might work physically on the airfield when they are testing planes, they are usually located away from the actual airport itself.
Airports need Innovators when they are building new terminals or upgrading existing infrastructure; engineers create the plans for buildings like hangers and runway extension projects. They may also need Innovators on staff to continually monitor the structural integrity of the buildings and airfield.
You may also find Innovators working in airports who are designing systems, so, for example, people who help airports manage passenger flow through the terminal or work out more efficient ways to load and unload aircraft.
- Civil Engineer
- Human Interface Designer
How do we expect working in an airport to change in the future?
Technology is moving quickly, and we expect that new software and systems will continue to change the way airports operate in the future. Just in the past 10 years, airports have moved away from on-site check-in to online check-in and on-site bag drop, for example, and new scheduling software and AI air traffic control systems have made aviation more efficient.
Airports will still need staff to manage this new technology and handle the increasing numbers of passengers travelling through the system each year. There is a strong chance that we will see higher demand for people who want to work at the airport in the future.