Airport Service Workers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

While most airport service positions are available to high school students, the most attractive positions will go to high school graduates. In high school, take courses in mathematics, business, and computer science to prepare for work in these careers. English and speech classes will help you to develop your communication skills; knowing at least one foreign language will help you to interact with foreign travelers.

Postsecondary Training

Most airport service positions are open to high school students. They learn the duties and responsibilities of their specific position via on-the-job training. Other airport service workers prepare for their careers by enrolling in postsecondary training programs. For example, cooks and chefs may pursue additional education at private vocational schools or university programs. They may also participate in apprenticeship programs that are sponsored by professional associations and trade unions. To improve their management abilities and increase their chances of promotion, many food service managers earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in restaurant management or institutional food service management. Airport tradesworkers, such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and building engineers, usually learn their respective trade by participating in an apprenticeship program or attending a technical or vocational educational program.

Other Education or Training

Continuing education opportunities are provided by professional associations. For example, the International Executive Housekeepers Association offers professional education credentialing programs that cover topics such as technical, administrative, and management skills. Check with organizations in your area of interest for more information on continuing education. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification and licensing requirements vary based on the type of airport service career. The following paragraphs detail certification and licensing requirements for selected airport service careers.

Applicants who pass an examination can receive the certified parking professional designation from the National Parking Association.

In most states, airport and other professional drivers must qualify for a commercial driver's license. State motor vehicle departments can provide information on how to qualify for this license. For insurance reasons, companies generally prefer to hire drivers who are at least 25 years of age and have an impeccable driving record.

Chefs, cooks, and other food service workers are required by law in most states to possess a health certificate and to be examined periodically. These examinations, usually given by the state board of health, make certain that the individual is free from communicable diseases and skin infections. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation offers a voluntary foodservice management professional certification to restaurant and food service managers.

Although not a requirement for finding a job, some janitors opt to become certified by the International Executive Housekeepers Association

Groundsmanagers and groundskeepers can receive voluntary certification from several organizations, including the Professional Grounds Management Society.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is needed for most airport service jobs, but those with prior work experience will increase their chances of landing a job, getting promoted, and possibly earning higher pay.

Airport service workers who deal with the public must have strong communication skills, pleasant personal appearances, tact, patience, and the ability to interact with a wide range of people. All workers must be able to follow instructions and have good physical stamina to stand for long periods of time. Workers who are employed in sales occupations must be able to add and subtract accurately and quickly and operate cash registers and other types of business machines.

Skycaps must have physical strength to lift heavy luggage and excellent communication skills to deal with customers effectively. Airport drivers must have a good driving record and be able drive in all types of weather conditions.

Bartenders must be at least 21 years of age, although some employers prefer they be older than 25. In some states, bartenders must have health certificates assuring that they are free of contagious diseases. Because of the large sums of money collected in some bars, bartenders must sometimes be bonded.

Janitors and tradesworkers should be good with their hands and be able to operate tools and equipment. A certain level of stamina and energy is essential since the job requires physical labor.

Groundskeepers must be able to follow directions and be responsible, since they are often assigned duties and then asked to work without direct supervision.

Information specialists must have excellent communication skills and an encyclopedic knowledge of airport services and facilities in order to quickly and effectively serve the needs of travelers.