Aviation certificates are issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and are intended for professionals who are working in some area of aviation – from pilot to mechanic. Air travel is dangerous and those professionals who work in the industry are charged with the safety of hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Therefore, the aviation industry is heavily regulated and requiring certification of professionals is only one of the ways the FAA makes the safety of passengers and employees a priority.
There are four primary types of aviation certificates offered by the FAA: the Airmen Certification, Airworthiness Certification, Airline Certification, and Airport Certification. The Airport Certification is offered to all airports in the United States and is required for the airport to continue operating. In order to maintain certification, airports must submit proof that all air traffic controllers and other professionals have the proper, up-to-date training and certification. The Airline Certification is provided to individual airlines that operate within the U.S. Every airline must ensure that all flight attendants and pilots are properly licensed and trained in order to maintain certification. They also have to prove that they are dedicated to mechanical safety. The Airworthiness certificate is for specific aircraft. Every commercial airplane must be Airworthiness certified and to earn such a designation the aircraft must undergo routine maintenance.
The other type of certificate is the only one designated for individuals. As the name suggests, the Airmen certification is intended for commercial pilots – anyone transferring passengers. Pilots must be licensed and, to earn their licenses, prospective airmen must successfully complete an Airman Knowledge Test and an Airman Practical Test.
Air traffic controllers have important but stressful jobs, and because they are charged with people’s lives, they must complete relatively rigorous training. Several months at an academy are followed by two-to-four years of shadowed training and regular performance reviews. Air Traffic Control Certification is earned through the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. All prospective air traffic controllers must complete a 12-week FAA course, the first five weeks of which explore air traffic basics. Graduates of the FAA’s Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative can bypass the first five weeks of the academy. Once air traffic controllers begin working, it usually takes an additional two-to-four years to complete all certification requirements. Controllers must pass regular job performance evaluations and physical evaluations to maintain their certification.