(WACO, Texas) – Aviation maintenance technicians are needed now more than ever.
Robert Capps, statewide chair of Texas State Technical College’s Aviation Maintenance department, said aviation maintenance and repair businesses working with contracts are doing well, along with aviation manufacturers.
“Our graduates have not had a hard time finding jobs,” Capps said. “Right now, the industry is just sort of in a holding pattern. The airlines are in tough shape because no one is flying commercial aviation. The airlines are only one part of the industry.”
Capps said aviation maintenance students also earning an avionics degree can mean more visibility in the hiring process and the possibility of higher pay. He said aviation maintenance students should be willing to relocate for jobs.
Southern Star Aviation in Midlothian has separate avionics and maintenance divisions.
Jacob Garcia, Southern Star Aviation’s shop foreman, said it is not easy to find people with experience that fit with the general aviation work the business specializes in.
“I guess it is hard because we are not in the metro area and have the pick of everyone that lives there,” he said.
Garcia said the business provides in-house training on how the maintenance and avionics sides operate.
“Aviation is a niche thing,” he said. “I have seen a lot of people come and go out of this industry. It is a passion kind of thing. You want to be here.”
Texas had more than 16,400 aircraft mechanics and service technicians making an annual mean wage of more than $66,000 as of May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The largest concentrations of workers in Texas are in the Dalls-Fort Worth and Houston areas.
The nationwide need for workers is projected to grow to more than 141,000 through 2028, according to the agency.
“Old perceptions of skilled trades involving dirty, hot work must change,” said Jarid King, president of King Aerospce in Addison. “A&P certified mechanics typically work in squeaky clean hangars with the latest in diagnostic technology. It’s hands-on, highly rewarding work. Security concerns have lessened the number of open houses the industry used to hold as a way to expose young people to aviation as a career. The industry needs to champion those again.”
Aviation businesses of all sizes throughout Texas are searching for workers.
Aero Accessories Inc. in San Antonio is looking for a shop mechanic for aircraft engine accessories.
“We are just a small shop, so we have fewer than 10 employees,” said Debra Broyles, general manager. “We can’t pay the scale competing with Lockheed and Boeing.”
Broyles said in the past the business has employed workers with automotive experience to work on its specialty of overhauling and repairing engine accessories for airplanes dating back to World War II. Broyles said the business trains new workers, who need to have electrical and mechanical proficiency.
Capps said the aviation maintenance program at TSTC’s Waco campus is full for the fall semester, but there are still spaces available at the Abilene and Harlingen campuses.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.