HOUSTON — Following two and one-half years of collaborative planning with the aviation industry, Lone Star College-North Harris is ready to launch its aviation management program, beginning in late August. Registration is currently underway.
The associate of applied science (AAS) degree will give graduates the skills they need for entry level management jobs within the aviation industry, including the municipal and private airports, and commercial and private airlines. Starting salaries range from $35,000 - $65,000, depending on the hiring entity.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is the sixth busiest airport in the world, and LSCNorth Harris is located on its doorstep, which makes the program “a natural marriage between industry’s need for a qualified workforce and the college’s mission to provide education and training for local residents,” said Gary Clark, dean of business, social and behavioral sciences. The program will provide a needed applicant pool for the Houston Airport System, the nation’s fourth largest, which includes IAH, home to 17 passenger airlines and 13 all-cargo airlines; Hobby, a major regional center for corporate and private aviation and five passenger airlines;and Ellington, a joint use civil/military airport.
But that’s not all. “We conducted an environmental scan and determined that aviation management is a professional career with a multitude of opportunities, both here and throughout the country,” said Clark.
For example, the majority of the FAA’s air traffic controllers are non-degreed, and most are approaching the mandatory retirement age of 57. Many are not ready to retire from work, so they need to find other work.
“These individuals want and need to pursue an education related to their career interests, “ said Rami Shafiee, program manager. “Aviation management is a perfect match.”
In fact, Shafiee said he has already identified the first student in the program. He is an air traffic
controller who was trained in the Air Force. He enrolled this semester to get ahead of the crowd and is taking his basics before enrolling in the first two aviation management courses that will begin in August—one on Monday evenings and the other on Wednesday evening. Clark pointed out that the college worked with an advisory board comprised of commercial and private pilots within the industry and city aviation managers at all levels in order to make the curriculum relevant.
Three factors led to the college developing this program.
Clark ticks them off his fingertips. “Size… IAH complex alone has 30,000 employees and is expected to double in size in the next decade. Need… the city needs to recruit younger people to replace retirees, and other airports and corporate and commercial airlines are in similar situations. And proximity… there is no other AAS degree in aviation management in the Gulf Coast region.”
In addition, the college has entered an articulation agreement with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the country’s premier university in aeronautics.
Shafiee explained the significance of the agreement by saying, “Our graduates with their degrees in aviation management will be able to go to work, and if they work for the Houston Airport System, the city will pay for any additional job-related education.” (Other municipality airports and commercial airlines have similar employee educational benefits.)
That means, students can get a two-year degree with LSC-North Harris and then get a four-year degree from Embry-Riddle, but they will earn the bachelor’s degree in two years instead of four because Embry-Riddle will accept the two years of education from LSC-North Harris. Simply put, students get two degrees in four years (2+2) and they are qualified for entry level managerial posts more quickly than the traditional baccalaureate route. Clark adds that there is a lot of job stability with the Houston Aviation System. “If you stay, you’ll move up.” Shafiee explained that the college expected the first group of students to go through the program will be employees who want to get the credentials they need to move into management and people in related jobs who are looking for options—such as meteorologists, facilities technicians, realtors, aircraft pilots and such.
Clark agreed. “This is a professional management degree that is ideal for people who are working at the airport and want to move up and for people who want to make a career change.” Faculty will be drawn from the professionals already working in aviation management. Through these instructors, students will plug into an international professional network within the aviation industry. Other networking opportunities will include internships and externships within the industry.
The curriculum will focus on the knowledge and skills needed for running a successful airport, including budget planning, facilities and employee management, security, customer relations, meteorology, FFA rules, to name a few. More information is available by calling 281.618.5717 or e-mailing Gary.W.Clark@LoneStar.edu.
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including CyFair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and Lone Star College-University Center. It is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu .
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