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Airport Utility Worker Job Description, Career as an Airport Utility Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training High school

Salary Median—$21,570 per year

Employment Outlook Fair

Definition and Nature of the Work

Airport utility workers are usually outdoors in all kinds of weather. They may direct incoming and outgoing aircraft near the terminal, using hand or light signals. When the aircraft is stationary, they operate the service vehicles that fill the fuel and water tanks. They add cooling-system and hydraulic fluids and check tires for specified air pressure. They also replace waste system chemicals and remove liquid waste. During the winter they remove ice and prevent ice buildup on the wings of aircraft by applying deicing chemicals.

In preparation for each flight, they clean the inside of the aircraft and make sure that lavatories and other equipment are functioning and stocked with supplies. They use portable platforms, ladders, and water brushes to clean the outside of the planes.

Some airlines have airport utility workers unload and load luggage and cargo from aircraft.

Education and Training Requirements

Applicants generally need high school diplomas or the equivalent. Workers receive on-the-job training, and most jobs can be learned quickly.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to the personnel offices of the airlines. Their addresses can be obtained from the airlines' Web sites or from the Air Transport Association of America. Newspaper classified ads and Internet employment sites may list job openings.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With experience some airport utility workers move into supervisory positions. With additional training they can become mechanics or cargo service managers.

The employment outlook for airport utility workers is fair through 2014. The demand for air transportation is expected to grow, and additional planes may require more utility workers. Turnover is high. However, at most airlines more people apply for jobs as utility workers than there are positions to be filled.

Airport utility workers check an aircraft's tires for specified air pressure, fill the fuel and water tanks, and clean the aircraft. (© Reuters/Corbis.)

Working Conditions

Utility workers are scheduled in shifts, including night, weekend, and holiday hours. They generally work forty hours per week. They must take precautions against noise from jet engines and spills of aviation fuels and chemicals used in the deicing and cleaning of the airplanes.

Earnings and Benefits

In 2004 the median salary for airport utility workers was $21,570 per year.

Where to Go for More Information

Air Transport Association of America
1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20004-1704
(202) 626-4000

Transport Workers Union of America
1700 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
(212) 259-4900

Benefits include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans. Airlines may allow employees and their families to fly free or at reduced fares. Some airport utility workers are members of unions.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesTransportation & Logistics