How Many Jobs Are Available in Air Freight/Delivery Services?

The air freight and delivery services industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. With the rise of e-commerce and the demand for fast, reliable shipping, career opportunities in this sector are abundant. But exactly how many jobs are available in air freight and delivery services?

There are nearly 11 million direct jobs in the air freight/delivery services industry. This includes a wide variety of positions, from pilots and mechanics to freight agents and office personnel. The sector offers stable employment with competitive wages and benefits. For job seekers looking for an in-demand career path, air freight is a field ripe with options.

What Types of Jobs Are Available in Air Freight/Delivery Services?

The air freight and delivery industry encompasses a diverse range of careers. Here are some of the most common positions:

Air Freight Agents

Air freight agents work closely with customers to arrange the transportation of cargo and freight shipments via air carrier. Their responsibilities include securing cargo space, calculating rates, tracking shipments, preparing documentation, and resolving any issues that arise. Most positions require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. The median salary for freight agents is $48,000 annually.

Cargo Agents

Cargo agents handle the physical side of transporting freight, including loading, unloading, and securing cargo on aircraft. This is an active, hands-on role requiring physical stamina and attention to detail. Cargo agents may work irregular hours when flights depart and land. Median pay is around $46,000 per year.


Dispatchers schedule and track the movement of freight and cargo shipments. Using sophisticated logistics software, they optimize delivery routes and resources. Strong analytical, multitasking and communication skills are essential. Dispatchers typically have a high school diploma and earn approximately $50,000 annually.


Pilots operate large cargo aircraft, transporting goods domestically and globally. Extensive training and certification is mandatory. Pilots need an airline transport pilot certificate and rating for the aircraft they fly. The median annual wage for airline pilots is $130,000.


Aircraft mechanics service, maintain and repair cargo planes and equipment. FAA certification is required, involving formal training and exams. Mechanics earn a median salary of $69,000 per year.

Warehouse Personnel

Freight warehouses employ numerous workers to sort, load, unload and track inventory. Forklift operators, warehouse associates, supervisors and managers are needed. Most positions require a high school diploma and on-site training. The average annual salary is $39,000.

Office Personnel

Like any industry, air freight companies need office staff to run smoothly. Customer service agents, sales specialists, accountants, managers and administrative roles are common. Salaries vary, but average approximately $41,000 annually.

What is the Outlook for Air Freight Jobs?

The job growth outlook for air freight careers is very strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of cargo and freight agents is projected to grow 22% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by expanding e-commerce and just-in-time inventory management.

Aircraft mechanic positions are expected to increase 7% over the next decade, about as fast as average. Commercial aviation is predicted to grow steadily, requiring more maintenance personnel. Air freight pilots are also projected to be in high demand, with an 18% growth rate forecast through 2030.

Overall, the BLS predicts robust job growth for air transportation industry workers. Businesses rely heavily on air cargo to move supplies, parts and final products quickly and efficiently. As e-commerce and global markets continue to expand, the need for rapid air freight service will only increase. That spells abundant job opportunities for the industry.

What Are the Education Requirements for Air Freight Jobs?

One appealing aspect of the air freight sector is that most positions do not require a college degree. Here is a look at typical education needs:

  • Air Cargo Agents: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Dispatchers: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Warehouse Personnel: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Office Personnel: High school diploma or equivalent, some roles may require an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree
  • Mechanics: FAA-approved maintenance training program
  • Pilots: Commercial pilot training, Bachelor’s degree preferred

While a four-year college education is not mandatory for many air freight roles, specialized certification and on-the-job training is essential, especially for mechanics and pilots. However, the barrier to entry remains low for most positions. Previous work experience in shipping, logistics or customer service may be beneficial.

Overall, the air freight industry values competency over credentials. Job candidates with the right mix of skills, attitude and ambition can build solid careers, even without a degree.

What Are the Salary Ranges for Air Freight Jobs?

Wages in the air freight sector are above average compared to all transportation and logistics jobs. Here are typical salary ranges:

  • Air Cargo Agents: $39,000 – $63,000
  • Dispatchers: $47,000 – $73,000
  • Warehouse Personnel: $35,000 – $48,000
  • Mechanics: $55,000 – $95,000
  • Pilots: $77,000 – $208,000
  • Office Personnel: $35,000 – $73,000

Salaries vary based on location, experience, training and employer. Union shops typically pay higher wages with better benefits. Overtime opportunities can significantly increase earnings as well.

For employees seeking steady work without a college degree, air freight offers livable incomes with room for advancement. Hard work and competence can be rewarded with higher pay over time.

What Are the Hours and Working Conditions Like in Air Freight?

Working in air cargo logistics demands flexibility. Shipments operate 24/7, requiring evening, weekend and overnight personnel. Work schedules can often change on short notice to meet demands. Both manual laborers and office staff must adapt to irregular shifts.

Air freight jobs often involve time pressures and high-stakes delivery coordination. The fast-paced environment requires multitasking abilities and performing under stress. Employees must be comfortable working both independently and collaboratively on busy teams.

Cargo loading and aircraft maintenance duties involve heavy lifting, awkward positions and noisy conditions. Safety protocols must be strictly followed. Mechanics may work outside on the tarmac in all weather conditions.

Business management and customer service roles feature office or warehouse settings. Pilots spend long stretches in the highly controlled environment of an airliner cockpit. Travel is sometimes required.

While air freight careers aren’t always 9-to-5 office jobs, they offer excitement and variability. Workers who thrive under pressure and adapt easily tend to succeed. With dedication, employees can advance into supervisory and management positions.

Which Air Freight Companies Are the Top Employers?

The air cargo industry is dominated by a handful of major companies that offer the lion’s share of U.S. jobs:


The top employer is package delivery and logistics giant FedEx Corporation and its subsidiary FedEx Express. Headquartered in Memphis, the air freight division operates over 650 aircraft. FedEx hires pilots, mechanics, freight handlers and office staff.


United Parcel Service is another shipping leader needing thousands of air freight personnel. UPS Airlines, based in Louisville, KY, employs 2,713 flight crew members and operates over 230 dedicated cargo jets.

Amazon Air

Retail behemoth Amazon’s in-house airline has grown exponentially since its 2016 launch. Amazon Air contracts pilots and mechanics to operate an all-Boeing fleet of over 110 cargo aircraft from over 20 major hubs across the U.S.

DHL Aviation

Specializing in international express shipping, DHL Aviation relies on 9,000 global pilots, mechanics and ground crew. Their Americas division transports freight throughout North, Central and South America.

Air Transport Services Group (ATSG)

The aviation holding company contracts its aircraft, crews and services to delivery companies like Amazon, DHL and USPS. ATSG has nearly 7,500 employees.

Major carriers like FedEx, UPS and DHL operate large, modern fleets with scheduled routes and thousands of employees. Smaller regional outfits provide key connections between hubs and airports. The options are diverse for building an air cargo career.

How Can I Get Started in an Air Freight Career?

For job seekers intrigued by the air freight sector, there are steps you can take to launch your career:

  • Search online job boards for entry-level openings in warehousing, cargo handling or office assistance. Look directly on company websites too.
  • For hands-on roles, emphasize any physical labor or transportation experience you may have. Detail skills like equipment operation, lifting ability, attention to detail and safety-consciousness.
  • Apply for local warehouse or courier positions to gain experience. Then you can advance internally or leverage that experience when applying for air freight roles.
  • For pilots, research flight schools and training programs. Attain your private pilot certificate before pursuing a commercial license and instrument rating.
  • For mechanics, complete FAA-approved airframe and powerplant training. Many programs partner with airlines and contractors.
  • Build a network. Attend local air cargo industry events and conferences to connect with key players. Follow companies on social media and engage with their posts.
  • Check if unions like the Air Line Pilots Association or International Association of Machinists have apprenticeships or entry points to get your foot in the door.

With preparation and dedication, you can launch an exciting, high-demand career in the thriving air freight industry. The sector offers abundant jobs for hard workers seeking stability, benefits and advancement opportunities. As air cargo transportation continues its upward trajectory, ambitious professionals will find no shortage of employment possibilities


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