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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

“THE SKY’S THE LIMIT” for a career in Aviation Maintenance

April 28, 2022

Prospects for graduates of an Aviation Maintenance Technology program are bright due to significant changes in the aviation mechanic workforce. According to this article from Future Aviation Aerospace Workforce, the supply of newly certified A&P mechanics has dropped significantly and the schools who train future mechanics cannot meet the demand fast enough. If you’ve been thinking about a career in aviation maintenance, keep reading because now may be the best time to pursue this career.

 

According to the article, Aviation Institute of Maintenance Executive Vice President Joel English states that over the next 20 years, there is a forecasted need for 132,000 Boeing technicians in North America and 700,000 worldwide.  While there is an estimated 6,209 new graduates each year, enough to fill this need, he goes on to caution that only about 60% (3,725) of these grads go on to become certified.

 

“Over 20 years that’s 74,500, only about half of what we need in North America,” he said.

 

English goes on to say, “Prior to Covid, 77% of certified technicians were over age 50 but Covid took a theoretical near-future problem and turned it into reality since companies relied on early retirements to reduce the number of furloughs required. The good news is the average age of technicians has declined over the past two years, but the number of available technicians has declined even more.”

 

Given this urgent need in the aviation industry, SJVC is uniquely positioned to fill that demand quickly. Students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at the SJVC Fresno – Trades Education Center (TEC) can graduate in as few as 17 months and are then eligible to test for an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

 

With respect to the aviation industry Sue Montgomery, Director of Institutional Partnerships and an SJVC employee for over 30 years, has a perspective developed from long standing relationships with airline companies of all sizes: she says “There is a shortage of mechanics across every category of employment in the manufacturing and building side as well as in maintenance. They were hit hard by the COVID pandemic.”

 

Another reason SJVC is attracting students to the Aviation Maintenance Technology program is their job placement success: SJVC enjoys a positive reputation in the industry for graduating competent employees with great potential. Over the years Sue Montgomery’s relationships with companies across every category of aviation have provided opportunities which include not just the large commercial airlines, but also cargo maintenance companies like FedEx, “fixed base operators” which are owners of small private airplanes or jets, as well as the Department of Defense and the large manufacturers of aircraft such as Northrup Grumman, Boeing, and Virgin Galactic.

 

“One recent graduate is going to work this month on Virgin Galactic’s spaceship,” Montgomery commented, addressing the other benefit of a certificate from SJVC – a graduate with a A&P license can work on either the building side of the aviation industry as well as the maintenance side.

 

One of the oldest and most successful relationships Montgomery has developed is with SkyWest Airlines. For example, the SJVC Fresno – Trades Education Center has partnered with SkyWest to form a program called the AMT Pathway Program that is hugely popular at the campus; it offers students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology program the opportunity to get a head start on their career while still enrolled in school.

 

The disruption in the aviation mechanic labor force has created additional opportunities for motivated individuals pursing this career field. As one happy SJVC student at the Fresno TEC campus said for himself and for others, “The sky’s the limit.” To learn more about training for a career in aviation maintenance check out our guide, Aviation Maintenance Technology: Learn How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic.

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