Wanted: Aviation Maintenance Technicians for Private and Commercial Aircraft Operators

By John Willis, MIAT College  of Technology Houston Campus President

Every time one of us boards an aircraft in the United States, we can be assured that  FAA-certified aviation maintenance technicians have completed an extensive series of essential checks and repairs required for safe and effective operations of that aircraft. That said, travelers don’t give much thought to the extensive “behind the scenes” work involved in getting us airborne and then back on the ground.  For United Airlines at Bush Intercontinental Airport alone, more than 300 aviation maintenance team members are employed day and night

United  Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Boeing and the aviation industry as a whole are experiencing a major shortage of qualified Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) maintenance technicians. Demand continues to be greater than supply, and competition among employers can be fierce.  Faculty and staff of MIAT College of Technology’s campuses in Houston and in Canton near Detroit, Michigan, are working closely with airline industry representatives, high schools, military veterans, and community leaders to assist in filling this gap as quickly as possible.

Interest in MIAT’s aviation maintenance programs is the major contributor to the rapid growth in student in enrollment at the Houston campus – which is approaching 400, up from 48 students in 2015. Approximately 60 percent of MIAT’s Houston students this year are enrolled in either the 20-month aviation maintenance certificate program or the 24-month aviation maintenance program that yields an associate’s degree in Applied Sciences.  Employment opportunities for these careers remain high.

MIAT’s faculty  must at least 4 years have direct aviation industry experience and an associate’s degree to instruct.  However, many have several decades of experience. Students who enroll in MIAT’s aviation programs either come directly from high school, continue their training once they leave the military, or have made a commitment to changing careers.  MIAT began offering an aviation maintenance program at Ross Sterling Aviation High School in Houston in 2015, and MIAT instructor Jason Smith, a certified A&P mechanic who is also a military veteran, leads classes there for students in grades 10th through 12th.  Sterling Aviation High School aircraft maintenance students obtain training free of charge and can potentially earn up to 450 contact hours of credit toward a degree at MIAT.

Employment Outlook and Income Potential

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2016, 149,500 aviation maintenance technicians were employed in the U.S. Job opportunities are expected to be good because there will be a need to replace those workers leaving the occupation due to retirement and the continued growth of the aviation industry. Overall employment of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is projected to grow steadily at the rate of 5 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Some studies estimate the shortage could require close to 800,000 new mechanics in the next 20 years.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported, based on May 2016 data, that the median annual wage was $63,060 per year, or $30.32 per hour.  According to employers who support MIAT’s Program Advisory Committee, aviation maintenance technicians have the potential of earning annual incomes in excess of $90,000. These  higher income levels can be attributed to several based factors – seniority, competency, location, hours and schedules worked, to name a few.

The article “College or $70,000 a year? Aviation industry scrambles for mechanics as retirements loom,” written by Leslie Josephs for CNBC and published Sept. 3, 2018, provides an excellent synopsis of the need for employers and the opportunities for workers:

The aviation industry needs to hire thousands more people like Thomas Maharis. Maharis, a recent high school graduate who lives with his family in the Howard Beach section of Queens, is earning $25 an hour as an entry-level aircraft technician. In four overnight shifts a week at nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport, Maharis, 19, repairs aircraft cabins after planes are done flying for the day for Delta Air Lines, where he started working in June.

One recent task: Cutting out a fabric eye mask that got stuck in a seat track. His assignments vary, depending on what breaks, or how rough passengers are with the aircraft. “There’s plenty of stuff people do to the vents,” he said.

Airlines, manufacturers of airplanes like Boeing and aircraft engine-makers such as General Electric, are racing to ensure a pipeline of technicians to fix and maintain their aircraft as a wave of current employees approach retirement.

Key points:

Boeing estimates that the aviation industry will need 754,000 new aircraft technicians over the next 20 years.

About 30 percent of the current ranks of aircraft mechanics are at or near retirement age and they’re retiring faster than they’re being replaced, the Aviation Technician Education Council said.

Young mechanics can quickly earn $72,000 a year.

Follow this link to the full article here:


Aviation Industry Representation at MIAT Houston Campus

Aviation industry associations, major commercial airlines, regional carriers, fixed base operators, corporate aviation departments, private airports and aircraft service providers of all types have been launching special workforce development initiatives to address the need for mechanics that extends far beyond the U.S.  Training at MIAT and other career colleges along with  seminars hosted by the National Business Aviation Association and many others are equipping men and women of all ages – many like the young man referenced in the CNBC article – with the skills to become an aviation maintenance technician. Airlines and aircraft service operators are ramping up  internships an, “externships” (paid on-the-job-training opportunities), job fairs and recruiting missions at career colleges such as ours.

Airline industry representatives from United Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Western Aviation and Standard Aero are just some of the aviation industry leaders that  serve as members of MIAT’s Program Advisory Committee at our Houston campus.  They also serve as guest speakers for classes and commencement ceremonies. As classroom sponsors, United and Spirit decorate MIAT classrooms with branded posters and information to keep them “top of mind” among the student population.

Joe Condelo, maintenance manager at United Airlines’ Bush Intercontinental Airport maintenance facility and MIAT PAC member, served as a featured speaker at our April 26 graduation ceremony.  Joe spoke not only about the growth of the industry and career opportunities ahead, but he also spoke about the importance of key values and character attributes: integrity, a solid work ethic, accountability, responsibility, teamwork, and leadership are all essential to succeeding in the workplace.

United Airlines and MIAT have formalized a training agreement for employees and their relatives. Currently, 27  individuals affiliated with United Airlines have enrolled at MIAT’s Houston campus to start or continue their aviation maintenance knowledge and skills development.

Boeing recently hired four MIAT students during a recruiting trip.  Spirit representatives recently interviewed 15 students and hired four for part time work in its maintenance hangar at Bush Intercontinental Airlines.

Here to Help

We are here to help now and in the future. Our faculty and staff members join me in welcoming your inquiries and campus tours.  Please call, email or schedule a tour.  Our toll-free number is 888 547 7047. Please visit our Web site, www.miat.edu, for details on our programs and services.


Thank you for your interest in MIAT College of Technology.