VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — While the country is in the midst of a major shortage of pilots, there’s also a high demand for aviation technicians.
It’s a line of work that’s vital for safe air travel.
Charles Horning is Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in DeLand. He says there’s a major deficit of these mechanics.
“You might have two pilots sitting up in front, but that airplane isn’t going anywhere without the mechanic saying that that aircraft is airworthy,” Horning said.
Boeing’s annual Pilot and Technician outlook projects more than 600,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain planes globally over the next 20 years.
Horning says that’s due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There was a decrease in the number of new technicians becoming certified, so you’re looking at a deficit of technicians, say, two years out,” Horning explained. “Those individuals to fill those positions need to be going to start school right now, because most schools are anywhere between 16 months to 24 months in length.”
Over the next decade, more than 13,000 openings for aircraft and avionics mechanics and technicians are projected each year.
“Just last year, the FAA only certificated less than 7,000 new technicians, so there’s a huge gap between the number of openings and the number of new technicians that are actually being certified every year,” Horning said.
According to Horning, that gap can be attributed to the combination of an increased number of retirements and the ongoing expansion of the aviation industry.
Another issue, Horning says, is that people simply don’t know the jobs exist.
ERAU student Portia Ani says skills she had as a child sparked her interest in aviation mechanics.
“I love problems,” Ani said. “It’s nice to have a challenge and start with the problem and then get to the result, like fix it and have it working.”
With the high demand also comes high pay. The average salary for maintenance technicians is more than $65,000 per year and can include signing bonuses and compensation for moving expenses.
“These are things the pilot industry has been doing for quite some time,” Horning said. “This is pretty new in the aircraft maintenance side.”
©2023 Cox Media Group