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Professional designations - a new way forward in commercial aviation

The world of commercial aviation is changing. Thanks to deregulation, constant advances in technology and a global demand for air traffic, our industry is growing at an unprecedented rate. Commercial aviation has evolved into the global air transport system that will safely connect some 3.3 billion travelers with nearly 100,000 flights per day across 50,000 routes this year alone. This activity drives economic growth, creates jobs and facilitates business opportunities.

While our booming industry helps bring the world closer together, today's aviation professional is forced to navigate an increasingly complex job market. Constant change in our industry has spurred a number of new job roles, mandatory skill sets, and evolving ways of doing business. In turn, employers are forced to demand greater technical skills and versatility from the workforce.

As our industry consolidates in multiple regions, working with many regulators and businesses that apply their own requirements on the people they employ, hiring the right candidate has become a more complex proposition. 

An industry solution to an industry problem

As a service industry, people are our business. And we have to keep pace with global employment trends if we are to attract the most coveted talent. We cannot expect today's professionals to start and end their careers in aviation. Once we hire a new recruit, we have to assume they will consider changing jobs, companies, even industries, in search of career advancement. Here is where we need to step up our game to be able to provide the compensation packages, job satisfaction, and development opportunities to retain talent in our industry.

Time and again, standardization and harmonization have proven beneficial to our industry.  We at IATA believe the same can, and should, apply to the way we define the jobs that are common to all airline-related businesses. 

We believe there is a real and current need to standardize the minimum required competencies, job descriptions, and career paths for roles in cargo, travel agencies, and airline management. There are still key questions to address as to the designation requirements, global adoption, viable training implementation, and how to maintain competencies throughout the lifecycle of a professional’s career. For this, we will continue to work with the industry to ensure consistency.

Key regulators and organizations, including ICAO, Airports Council International (ACI), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and IATA have taken the lead with the introduction of certification programs for pilots, airport managers, mechanics, and cargo professionals. At IATA, we have also found success with areas such as the Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) and the IATA Training and Qualification Initiative (ITQI) programs.

Common language, common benefits

Existing professional designation programs have provided measurable proof of the mutual benefit gained from the “common language” of professional designations:

  • Job seekers, new recruits, and seasoned professionals will know where they stand. Professionals have the satisfaction of knowing their career paths and are motivated to update their training in order to maintain their designation. Global job standards will facilitate movement and motivate professionals to stay on top of the latest industry standards.
  • Employers will be able to streamline their hiring processes. Data from, shows that the average duration of the interview process at major companies has roughly doubled since 2010. With a clear roadmap to confirm skills and subject matter expertise, employers can save on recruitment, on-boarding and job training costs, in order to place more resources into learning, development and retention. 
  • Industry standards will be applied across the board. Standards drive quality in our industry. A common set of standards by which to measure skills and proficiency will benefit the level of service, safety and performance. In other industries, certification of professionals has proven to increase productivity, consistency and professionalism.

Professional standards are a growing trend in a range of industries, and they will also need to be a key part of our industry as we look at the next 10-15 years of development. 

At ITDI we will continue to facilitate industry support for these needed designations through the work of our experts with industry task forces, working groups and committees. The jobs to focus on will be coordinated with our stakeholders, and we have already started the discussions.

Find further detail of IATA’s professional designations on our website. 


Additional information

© International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2014. All rights reserved.