A career in aviation can be one of the most exciting and rewarding career options today! These rewards do not come without some personal sacrifice and discipline.
Alcohol and drug related violations can destroy an aviation career. The FAA has strict time sensitive requirements for pilots and air traffic controllers to report such convictions. Hiring boards do not look favorably upon applicants with a minor in possession conviction, minor in consumption conviction, DUI conviction, or a driver’s license suspension. Alcohol violations obtained prior to age 21 will warrant the FAA to conduct a thorough evaluation prior to an air traffic controller’s job offer being made. Multiple violations may prevent an air traffic controller from being offered a job. Any drug or alcohol conviction, including a minor in possession, may have a destructive effect on a career.
Illegal drug use is strictly forbidden. There is no place in the aviation community for this type of activity. Because of this, almost everyone who has a career in some facet of aviation is subject to random drug and alcohol testing. With the interest of safety in mind, aviation professionals are held to the highest standards with NO exceptions.
A person who is seriously considering becoming a pilot, air traffic controller or manager must be ready and willing to live with rules and restrictions. UND’s air traffic control students are required to sign a hiring disclaimer. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots not consume alcohol eight hours prior to flying. The eight hour requirement must be extended if blood alcohol content will not be below .04 when flying, or anytime a pilot may still be under the influence of alcohol when flying. UND has a policy that requires twelve hours without alcohol consumption before flying. Most airlines have their own rules that require twelve, twenty-four or even more hours without alcohol consumption prior to flying. At UND, for example, if you receive a drug or alcohol violation, you may be suspended from flight training for several months.
Because aviation professionals are held to high standards every day, applicants for aviation jobs go through rigorous application processes. A thorough background check is conducted on all applicants. Airlines normally look back five to seven years for speeding offenses and other traffic violations. These infractions may have an adverse effect on success in the hiring process. Air traffic control applicants are required to report any ticket of $150 or more to the FAA. The FAA also conducts a credit check of each air traffic controller applicant’s consumer credit history. Because of today’s increased security measures, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires personnel who seek unescorted access to ramp areas, including managers, ramp agents and pilots, to pass a 10 year criminal history check. The TSA, FAA and most airlines have no tolerance for falsification of records. For example, possession of a fake ID shows little regard for security or accuracy of records and may be a reason to eliminate an applicant in a hiring process.
Aviation professionals must be concerned with their work history. Unsatisfactory job performance including failed proficiency checks, problems in training, failed line checks, tardiness or a trend of dismissals and firings are considered negatively when hiring air traffic controllers and pilots. Under the Pilot Records Improvement Act (PRIA), all employment information follows pilots from one aviation company to another aviation company. If you have had problems following rules and laws in the past, companies may view this as an inability to follow their rules such as those regarding alcohol consumption, sexual harassment, and adherence to flight policies and procedures. Past behaviors play an important role in your future.
If you already have a conviction on your record and you are considering a career in aviation, be warned: you will have some hurdles to overcome. A pilot with even one conviction may have seriously limited his or her chances of being hired, as some companies have policies that will prohibit the hiring of individuals with a prior criminal record. The aviation world is a highly competitive one with many applicants out there who do not have any convictions or records. If you have a conviction on your record you should consult with a knowledgeable professional before proceeding with your career plans. Depending upon your situation, you can consult with someone in the profession, an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) for medical questions, an aviation attorney for law questions, or consult a human resource department representative. Be certain you contact someone who specializes in aviation issues. Evaluate whether or not you will be able to realistically accomplish your goals with your history.
In addition to discipline, there are a host of human factors that benefit aviation professionals. Employers look to people who are honest, accountable and have high moral standards. Aviation professionals must pay attention to detail and have the desire and ability to learn. Leadership, organizational skills, and a sense of responsibility show an applicant has potential to advance to the forefront of the aviation profession. The ability to work with others makes an employee a valuable team member. Employers look to people who are able to conform, yet possess the ability to think and act independently. Aviation professionals must continuously strive to achieve a higher standard.
Think seriously about your actions every day. Protect your hearing and eyesight. Exercise, eat healthy foods, and partake in leisure activities and hobbies. Wear a seatbelt, drive safely and above all, make smart, safe decisions that will enhance your aviation career! If you keep your record clean, stay disciplined and are a responsible citizen, you will most certainly have increased opportunities within the aviation industry! Have fun, fly safely!