This session introduces Explorers to the variety of careers in the aviation industry.


  • Exploring, Aviation
  • US DOE, Transportation


By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the variety of careers in the aviation industry.
  • Identify a career that sounds interesting and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession.
  • Explain the recreational pilot, sport pilot, and private pilot certificates.
  • Explain the instrument rating.
  • Discuss the privileges and limitations of certification and rating.
  • Explain the main difference between a commercial pilot certificate and a private pilot certificate.
  • Discuss different ways to obtain pilot training and certification.


  • Aviation Certifications activity sheet (one per participant)
  • Careers in Aviation activity sheet (one per participant)
  • Career Wrap-Up activity sheet (one per participant)
  • Optional: Invite an aviation professional to speak to participants about his or her career. The guest could bring photos, props (i.e., helmets, uniforms, flight gear), or other materials that will help in the discussion.


Text in italics should be read aloud to participants. As you engage your post in activities each week, please include comments, discussions, and feedback to the group relating to Character, Leadership, and Ethics. These are important attributes that make a difference in the success of youth in the workplace and in life.

Activity 1

Aviation Certifications

Pass out the Aviation Certifications activity sheet. Begin by discussing the different certifications a pilot can earn, including sport pilot, recreational pilot, private pilot, and instrument pilot rating. Have Explorers explain the similarities and differences of various certifications. Examine the importance of instrument ratings.

Activity 2

Careers in Aviation

Say: Those are the certifications that pilots can earn, but there are many other careers in aviation that don’t require flying. Let’s discuss other careers too.


Pass out the Careers in Aviation activity sheet. Review a few categories with the Explorers and discuss the educational requirements and duties of each. Let participant interest guide the discussion.


If you know enough about a specific career, an engaging discussion tactic is to pick a work scenario and ask students to problem solve.


If available, use online resources to supplement the discussion by finding universities that offer relevant degrees, learning more about a specific field, or finding people who might act as mentors. Let the discussion guide your searches.


Be sure to discuss how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are all essential to aviation. There are many STEM fields listed on the Careers in Aviation activity sheet. Education and qualifications of these STEM careers should be highlighted during this discussion.

Activity 3

Guest Speaker

If possible, have a guest who is an aviation professional join you. He or she can discuss the path to his or her specific career, including education, training, the selection process for various employers, monthly schedules, potential job prospects, and any other topics of interest. Guests should be encouraged to bring any relevant hands-on props to make the discussion more interesting. Props can be anything, such as a flight bag, equipment used during flight, charts and maps, etc.


A good question for the guest to begin with might be “What do you think it takes to become a professional xxxx?” (substituting his or her profession for “xxxx.”)

Activity 4


Pass out the Career Wrap-Up activity sheet and have participants complete it. Allow participants to search the internet for information if computers or smartphones are available. After everyone has completed the activity sheet, engage in a discussion about the various careers in which Explorers expressed an interest.


Some sample questions are below. They are designed to help the participants apply what they have learned to their own interests. You are welcome to use these questions or develop your own questions that relate to your post or specific focus area.


  • What does a commercial certificate allow you to do that an instructor might need? (Ability to get paid for their instruction. Without a commercial certificate, the only money that a passenger can contribute is for their fair share of the operating costs of the plane.)
  • A pilot was contacted by the Federal Aviation Administration for a small infraction of airspace. The pilot flew into a “Temporary Flight Restriction” zone while the U.S. president was visiting a city. Why might an aviation lawyer be helpful in a situation like this? Can you think of some consequences for the pilot if he or she does not obtain adequate legal advice? (Aviation lawyers specialize in rules and regulations of flight. Not consulting a specialist might result in loss of flying privileges, either temporarily or permanently.)
  • Choose one of the careers you decided to explore in depth and discuss with a fellow Explorer. What sorts of specialized knowledge are relevant only to aviation? (For example, how is general medicine different from aviation medicine; general engineering different from aerospace engineering, etc.)


After the meeting, address the following:

  • Identify what was successful about the meeting.
  • Identify what needed improvement.
  • Schedule an officer and Advisor planning meeting to prepare for the next post meeting or activity.


Content for this session provided by Youth Aviation Adventure (


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