So I've been in the business for nearly 20 years and had many different roles. I knew at an early age I wanted to be in the airline business. Some of the best advice I ever received was to get a degree, but not a degree specific to aviation. My degree is in liberal arts (communication and Sociology), but a degree in business, computer science or marketing would also work. Then you can always get an advanced degree specific to aviation.
I have loved my career so far and have done everything from loading luggage, to managing call centers, to implementing new technology. I never could have dreamed I could have done so much.
So dream big and don't close any doors early in your career.
There are an infinite amount of paths that lead to a career in aviation. I am working on mine right now so let me give you my personal journey. I first flew on an airplane when I was eleven and caught the itch. After that I always wanted to fly, but didn’t decide to do so professionally until I was 26. I got a late start. In fact I decided I wanted to fly professionally half way through my first degree. I finished that degree and have been working on a degree in Aviation Management ever since. I have over 300 hours and am an instrument rated private pilot. The next step is going to get my commercial pilots license so I can begin to get paid to fly for a company. That job can be aerial mapping, dropping skydivers, and many other things. Best of luck in your career!
As stated in the other answers, there are quite a few options available. The bigger questions are, what do you like to do and what type of aviation is most appealing to you? If you want to be a pilot, then I would recommend that you stay true to your dream and follow it to completion.
I always wanted to be a pilot, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I ended up on the mechanic side of the fence. I enjoy my career and it has proven to be very rewarding in the long run, but I always regret not finishing or finding a way to the pilot side of the house.
First decide weather you want to pursue a military or civilian career, then research, plan and follow thru. You can't go wrong doing the right thing! No matter where you end up, as long as you follow your hart you will be OK. There are a lot of possibilities, and you can change along the way as something seems more appealing.
I love what I do, and therefore I can say that I have not worked a day in my life so far.
There are many jobs in the aviation industry besides pilots. Just some and not all inclusive are Dispatchers and Mechanics ( both have FAA licences in those areas) Also Flight attendants, Customer service, gate agents, marketing, baggage handlers and ramp service personal.
Some of these jobs are entry level, however as people continue they sometime change jobs, or many decide to remain in their original job for an entire career.
You could be an air traffic controller or mechanic. Flight attendants are both male and female. Pilots need instructors to teach in simulators and classrooms. There are also aviation jobs in customer service, sales and management.
There are excellent ways to go. If you are good with your hands, like working on aircraft, maintenance is a good way to go.
A&P licensed mechanics will always be in big demand. School is 18 months, if you have the resources and time.
Air Traffic Controllers are another option. Good salary, retirement.
Pilot of course, if you have the bug to fly and see the world.
I started young. I soloed at 16, private pilot license at 17.
The military is also another option to use, excellent education.
The ways to go are endless, many career paths. Corporate, Sales, Airlines, aircraft ferry, flight instructor, ATC...
Good luck in your endeavors. I see alot of good possible jobs for a young person...