Are language skills essential for a career in aviation

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When you’re searching for your next aviation job, you’re sure to be looking at all the ways that you can stand out as an exceptional candidate.  With competition high when it comes to securing jobs in aviation, the more you can do to make your CV and covering letter shine, the better. 

One big question that often crops up when people are planning what they can do to make their case even stronger for bagging their dream aviation job is whether or not language skills are essential for a career in aviation. 

No matter whether you’re interested in aircraft maintenance or pilot recruitment is more in your line of vision, there’s no getting away from the fact that an effective and natural ability to communicate is essential.  But whether or not you will need to invest the time and effort to learn a second language is debatable.

The fact is that airlines, from Emirates to Zenon fly around the world and their safety and success relies on the ability of everyone from ground staff through pilots to controllers being able to communicate in such a way that everything is clear, timely and unambiguous.  It doesn’t take a genius to work out that when you put together people from different countries, flying over different airspaces, there is ultimately a real mixed bag of languages at play.  It is because of this that back in the early 1950s the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) declared English the international language of aviation. 

This was just the start of the story, because as you can imagine, in practice, the levels of English spoken by the various people involved across the industry varied enormously.  As a result of this, communication difficulties and poor English have led to unfortunate errors of judgement and accidents over the years.  If you are a native English speaker, then your English will be sufficient to speak, read, write and understand what’s going on around you.  However, if English isn’t your mother tongue then there is no doubt that learning Aviation English is essential if you are looking to take up a career in the aviation industry.  So it’s clear that for anyone behind the scenes in the aviation industry that a sound, working command of the English language is essential.  But what about the people ‘front of house’?

Front of house in the aviation sector may mean anything from ground staff to flight attendants and there’s no getting away from the fact that being able to communicate with passengers in their mother tongue is an advantage.  Ground staff and flight crew are more than likely to be expected to speak the language of their country of origin as well as English and possibly the language of their most common customers. 

As a result of all of this, there is no doubt that English is essential for a career in aviation, but equally a second, working knowledge of the likes of Spanish, Arabic, French or German could be the jewel in your aviation crown that helps you bag the job of your dreams.  If you’re interested in brushing up your aviation English, why not check out the Courses section of our website?

If you’re on the lookout for an aviation job, why not upload your CV today to get headhunted by top airlines and aviation companies as well as receiving job alerts that tell you when new jobs that match your criteria are posted on our site? 

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