JobsNow: Job as aviation technician could get career off ground

The industry anticipates 118,000 technicians will be needed in the next 18 years

Being an aviation technician can get your career off the ground.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WKBN) – Flying may scare you, but a career in aviation could get you off the ground and take you places.

Getting a FAA Airframe and Powerplant certification is called the golden ticket to a career in aviation maintenance.

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) is all about hands-on training. It takes a lot of inspections, maintenance, and repairs to keep airplanes safe while in the air.

A maintenance technician has to inspect or supervise all of that work.

“Across the board, if you love airplanes and you would like to work with aircraft, then this is something that could interest you,” said Suzanne Markle, executive vice president of PIA. “We don’t worry about how much you know walking in the door because we start at the very first step.”

Starting with tools, that training takes just 16 months. You get a FAA certificate, which basically lets you work on anything and everything that flies.

It’s an excellent way to become a maintenance technician and learn how to return an aircraft to service.

“They learn how to work on any part of the airframe, the brakes, the wheels, the landing gear, the wings, how to do sheet metal repairs — everything dealing with the airplane itself,” said Gary Hoyle, PIA’s director of campus operations.

PIA was established in 1929 and has four campuses. The last graduating class ranged from a 20-year-old student to someone in their 50s.

Ashley Plemmons will graduate in April. She has a pilot’s license and wanted a job so she could pay for more pilot training.

“That’s kinda how I started, but the more I started learning and doing things, I started to really enjoy it so I want to continue doing both,” she said.

Every student in PIA’s last graduating class found a job. There’s a 93 percent placement rate from the local campus.

The industry anticipates 118,000 technicians will be needed in the next 18 years. There’s an existing shortage, plus an aging workforce. Airlines are scrambling to come up with replacements.

“Most of the companies will start new employees off with a mentor who’s got experience and then they will learn on the job after that, but what we can do in 16 months is get them licensed to do that,” Markle said.

The average starting pay is around $40,000 and within 10 years, you could double it.

PIA has a 20-minute program, which is great for schools to explain what it does.

It’s also holding an open house on February 25. At the open house, you can learn about education, training, and even career opportunities.

For more information on what it takes to get a career in aviation maintenance or for available jobs, go to OhioMeansJobs.com.

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