I’ve written before about the pilot crunch affecting commercial airlines around the world. But that’s not the only problem: another crisis looms that airlines are scrambling to prepare for.
As many retire and the aviation industry continues to expand, Boeing estimates that 754,000 new aircraft mechanics will be needed over the next decade. 80% of those mechanics will be utilized for commercial airlines. 30% of airline mechanics are at or approaching retirement age and are leaving the workforce faster than they are being replaced. In fact, the Aviation Technician Education Council claims that 25% of aviation mechanics are 64 years old and the average aviation mechanic is 51 years old!
Enter schools like Aviation High School in Queens. This school, and others like it, train high-school aged students to be mechanics. Aviation High is just minutes from JFK airport and represents a pipeline for future airline mechanics. That’s why Delta pledged $350,000 to schools like Aviation High last year and JetBlue, located within walking distance, offers student internship programs.
College or $70K/year?
Students have a difficult choice to make: college or work? Some do both, but airlines like full-time mechanics, not “let me work twice a week between college classes” mechanics. Pay starts at around $25/hour but hits $35/hour in less than two years and continues to gradually grow. That translates to about $70K/year, a solid middle-class salary. No college debt required either. Mechanics must pass FAA certification, but this is carefully trained for and schools like Aviation High boast a high pass rate for those who choose to go into that line of work.
And of course this isn’t just about an airline mechanic shortage. Aircraft manufactures are also facing severe shortages and will be aggressively recruiting from the same pool of candidates. This creates the condition for rising wages.
A college degree, especially with study in liberals arts, is absolutely indispensable as far as I concerned…to personal growth, not career success. With college debt a staggering problem, if I were facing the prospects of going deep into debt or landing a secure job with good wages and flight benefits, I’d seriously consider it.
> Read More: It’s the Golden Age to Become an Airline Pilot
image: Israel Defense Forces