Considered working as an Aircraft Load Master? This interview will take you down the career path of an Aircraft Load Master including the ups and downs you may experience in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to LogisticsJobs.org and is one of many interviews with logistics professionals which among others include a Logistics Customer Service Representative and a Solutions Engineer.
I am an Aircraft Load Master for a large air freight courier. I also have experience as an FAA licensed aircraft mechanic and aircrew scheduler. Combined, I have over eight years of experience in this field.
My primary duties include supervising the on and off loading of the aircraft, calculating weight and balance, assisting the flight crew in performing pre-flight inspections, and occasionally performing flight attendant type duties. We’re often thought of as being on a lower level compared to the rest of the flight crew, but I believe our job is most important because in the end – we’re focused on safely delivering cargo.
I would rate my job an 11! It offers great pay, benefits, retirement, and the opportunity to travel. I have traveled to twenty-six countries and met friends that will last a lifetime.
Ever since I was young, I’ve always been interested in aviation. Short of being a commercial pilot, this is as close as you can get to the heart of the aviation industry.
Some people would be surprised I have no college degree or training other than what I learned on the job or from the military.
I first started off in the military, without a doubt I believe it’s the best and easiest way to get into this industry as they teach you everything you need to know. Even if you have little background education or experience you can find yourself in an exciting aviation career. Even better, most jobs will transfer to the civilian job market easily. Ultimately, if I could go back and do it all again I would have pursued being a professional pilot.
The hardest lesson I learned was to always follow instructions and not be complacent. As anyone in this industry knows, complacency kills! I was involved in an accident where a multimillion dollar aircraft was damaged because we weren’t following the checklist. Because of this I was moved to an office job for several months pending a safety investigation. Fortunately I was found to not be at fault and resumed my normal job.
The airlift industry is very tough in some regards, employers only want the best and most qualified people for the job. If you don’t work hard and try to stay ahead there is always someone behind you willing to take your position. On the other hand, you get to work with some great people. Flight crew members are like no others you will find in the transportation industry, they possess a great degree of professionalism and dedication to their jobs. On that note, networking is very important. The people you meet can greatly help you in the future, so it’s best to not burn bridges!
No day is ever the same. It varies from strange cargo loads, such as an airplane full of working dogs, to traveling to distant lands and experiencing other cultures. Some might consider me strange, but I enjoy transporting cargo. While some may refer to it as simply “hauling trash,” the things you deliver are very important to someone. We transport everything from everyday packages, to life saving supplies for our troops in the desert.
Short notice trips, long tiring days, jet lag, and unprepared shippers all make for interesting challenges. Some days are easy and stress free, while others will make you want to start ripping hair!
At times it is very stressful, but most often it could be considered as dull or boring. There are long periods in flight where there is nothing to do other than sleep or read. I find myself with quite a lot of free time, so the stress isn’t very difficult to deal with.
My salary averages around $44,000. I am married with no children and it proves to be enough to live well on. Even if the job paid minimum wage, it would be worth it just for the experience! I take two weeks of vacation a year. Combined with my regular time off, it is more than enough to take a trip out of town and spend time with my family.
Considering a large portion of the job is calculating aircraft weight and balance and load planning, a strong math background is desirable. Strangely enough, being able to assemble puzzles is useful! A lot of times you will have to figure out how to load odd shaped pieces of cargo and make them fit together. While not crucial, being knowledgeable in mechanics proves to be useful as you will be operating the hydraulic and electrical systems on the aircraft.
I would strongly recommend this line of work to a friend. If nothing else, just for the experience of being able to see the world on somebody else’s dime. As I said earlier, the easiest way to get in this industry is through the military. Sadly, there aren’t many commercial technical schools that offer the education that is required. Optionally, it might be possible to transfer to this career from having experience working on the ground handling crew. Another option is to work as a flight engineer aboard larger aircraft. There are a few schools that offer courses in this specialty, but it is largely a dying field thanks to modern computers.
Although this job is enjoyable and has good benefits, I’m ready for a change. I would like to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering and be a part of designing future aircraft.
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