Published in the March/April 2012 issue of print Search & Employ® |
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an agency of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), is the national aviation authority of the United States. It has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S. The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the organization under the name “Federal Aviation Agency. The agency and adopted its current name in 1966 when it became a part of the DOT.
The FAA’s major roles include:
* regulating commercial space transportation
* regulating air navigation facilities’ geometry and flight inspection standards
* encouraging and developing civil aeronautics, including new aviation technology
* regulating civil aviation to promote safety, especially through local offices called Flight Standards District Offices
* developing and operating a system of air traffic control and navigation for both civil and military aircraft
* researching and developing the National Airspace System and civil aeronautics
Austin Lewis is the Veterans Program Coordinator for the FAA in Little Rock, Arkansas. “I am responsible for developing, administering, and coordinating the FAA’s Veterans Employment Program,” he said. “This includes but is not limited to, developing a strategic plan for outreach to veterans, veterans service organizations, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Labor, military organizations, and the Office of Personnel Management.”
Lewis spent more than 31 years in the Army and Army Guard/Reserve, retiring as a master sergeant. He began his government career in 1979 at the VA Medical Center in Tuskegee, Alabama. After completing the Personnel Management Intern Training program, he served tenures as a personnel management specialist at VA Medical Centers in Alexandria, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi. He served in the Veterans Health Administration, Southern Region, as a regional EEO specialist; in the Veterans Benefits Administration as a personnel management specialist (team leader); and in the Office of Resolution Management as the regional EEO officer.
He said that this is an exciting time to work for the FAA because it is working on one of the most challenging and exciting technological advances in aviation since the Wright Brothers’ first flight. “That transformation is called the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen),” Lewis said. “NextGen will see a total change in how air traffic operates in the United States and around the globe. NextGen is a fundamental transformation for aviation, changing the way we communicate, navigate, and conduct surveillance in the air and on the ground. It uses satellite-based technologies to accommodate more aircraft. To move NextGen forward, we need a workforce that can keep pace with technological innovation, rapidly changing customer and supplier market environments, and the stringent safety and reliability demands of aviation.”
Many positions in the military directly translate to positions at the FAA. Lewis said that “the FAA is looking for people who want exciting careers in air traffic control, aviation safety, electronics, engineering and research, information technology, computer science, economics, business and finance management, acquisitions and contracting, logistics, mathematics, meteorology, physical science, human factors, physics and administration.”
DOT is one of four agencies recognized by the Office of Personnel Management for its efforts to hire more veterans. “This prestigious award speaks volumes about why DOT is the employer of choice for hiring veterans,” Lewis said. “DOT is the largest non-defense agency employer of veterans, and the FAA is the lead operating administration in DOT in the overall employment of veterans. The representation of veterans in the FAA was 28.81 percent in FY 2010 and 28.91 percent in FY 2011.”
Lewis believes there are many reasons veterans make good employees. He said they have an accelerated learning curve, leadership skills, experience with diversity and inclusion, ability to be good team members, ability to handle pressure, and respect for established procedures.
“Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts,” Lewis said. “In addition, they can enter your workforce with identifiable and transferable skills proven in real-world situations. This background can enhance your organization’s productivity.”
Their ability to perform under pressure may be one of their most marketable skills. “Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources,” he said. “They have developed the capacity to know how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress. They know the critical importance of staying with a task until it is done right.”
Lewis said that veterans have gained valuable experiences in military occupations that directly relate to positions in the FAA. “Veterans have acquired a wealth of knowledge, skills, and competencies through practical workforce experience,” he said. “Veterans understand the commitment to achieving organizational goals and objectives and have demonstrated the ability to work efficiently and effectively within teams and multi-cultural environments. Many veterans already hold required security clearances for federal positions.”
It is important to take advantage of all opportunities, inside the military and out, according to Lewis. “In the military, you are always looking for the next opportunity to prove yourself,” he said. “So you take advantage of any training opportunity that adds to your skill set – and you volunteer for those tasks and assignments that allow you to develop. Also, you cannot wait until it is time to leave the military to decide on your desired career field in the civilian world. Of course, everything is dependent on the job market, so you have to do some research on what jobs will be available.”
The Office of Human Resource Management posts all positions open to outside candidates at www.faa.gov/jobs and www.usajobs.gov. “The FAA also implemented a new hiring provision for veterans – the Expanded Veterans Hiring Opportunity (EVHO),” Lewis said. “That allows veterans and preference eligibles who are honorably discharged from the armed forces – after completing at least three years of continuous active service – to apply and compete for vacant FAA positions when the agency is recruiting outside of its own workforce.”
Be careful when filling out the online application, said Lewis. “Veterans need to take the time to complete the application thoroughly,” he said. “Many times veterans are considered not qualified or do not receive veterans preference because they do not answer questions on the application correctly.”