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The Future Looks Bright for Aviation Mechanics

A Caucasian male aviation mechanic on a mechanical lift, works on an airplane engine in an airplane hangar. He wears a blue shirt, dark vest and white baseball cap.

Aviation mechanics — or A&P mechanics — experienced a couple of the most tumultuous years in recent memory. The COVID-19 pandemic brought travel restrictions and the number of commercial flights plummeted. Reduced commercial and business travel led to furloughs and other workforce reductions.

Currently, commercial travel is returning to 2019 levels. People are traveling more and consumer spending is driving an increase in cargo flights. With more planes in the air, the demand for aviation maintenance professionals is rising. This is leading to an abundance of opportunities and new ways for aviation mechanics to advance their careers.

We spoke with Business Development Executive Damien Dominguez and Practice Lead Michael Del Bianco who both have extensive experience in the aviation industry and over 20 years of combined experience in recruiting. They provided a few additional reasons aviation mechanics should be optimistic about their future.  

Recent retirements are creating new opportunities

It’s well known that the Baby Boomer generation is leaving the workforce in droves. This wave of retirements is impacting nearly every industry and aviation is also suffering from a skills gap.

“There were a lot of mechanics early in the 1970’s when aviation was first booming. Many of those early mechanics are starting to retire or already retired. What’s exciting for those mechanics coming up is the opportunity for advancement,” says Dominguez.

This creates a situation where there are plenty of open supervisory or management roles, but with few people who have the skills to take on the jobs. Now is the perfect time for ambitious aviation mechanics to focus on their skills, goals and interest. Understanding these three things will help clear the path towards filling leadership positions.

Strong demand is improving wages and benefits

Not every aviation mechanic may be in position to start taking on leadership roles. You may be more concerned about finding the right place to hone your skills. The surge in demand has caused many companies to expand their search for experienced mechanics. They’re also increasing wages and improving benefits to draw in top talent.

“Salaries are rising and sign-on bonuses are becoming more common. Hourly workers can also take advantage of rising wages with bonuses for working off-shift hours,” says Del Bianco.

If you aren’t tied to a specific location — explore options with companies that have multiple worksites. Major manufacturers or commercial airlines often have more than one location where you can get exposure to new aircraft and technology.

“A lot of clients that we work with have multiple locations. They might have a MRO (maintenance repair and operations) in North Carolina, another in Texas, and another in Illinois. If you’re open to relocate, you’re going to give your career more upward mobility,” states Dominguez.

Aviation continues to offer multiple career paths

Whether you want to work on military aircraft, with commercial airlines or support air freight — the number of career options in aviation for mechanics continues to grow.

Those looking for opportunities in the military are in a great position to advance their careers. Investments into military aircraft continue to grow and are forecasted to deliver a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4% by 2031.

“Working on military aircraft often provides mechanics with higher wages and exposure to new state of the art technologies depending on the company or program they are working with,” say Del Bianco 

Commercial aviation is also evolving. Climate change and an expected prolonged decrease in business travel is changing both the exterior and interior of commercial aircraft. Not only are engines becoming more efficient, but the layout of the commercial planes should continue to evolve with consumer demands. Think more leg room, bigger seats and other adjustments that make the flight more comfortable. Aviation mechanics will be learning how to maintain the new equipment and technology which expands their skill sets.

Projecting further into the future, Dominguez predicts we’ll begin to see some significant advances in aircraft technology in the next 5-10 years. 

“You’re going to see electric vehicles in the air. Being on the cutting edge of that as an up-and-coming mechanic you’re going to work with new technology that people haven’t seen before and that’s exciting for a lot of people,” states Dominguez. 

If you’re a current aviation mechanic or if you’re currently working towards certification, there are a multitude of reasons to be optimistic. Dominguez offered some advice for all mechanics during aviation’s resurgence.

“Take your time. There’s a lot of opportunities being put in front of people. The big thing is to know your goals, skills and interest. At Aerotek, we’ve got plenty of opportunities across all facets, but we’re really going to guide you based on your goals, skills and interest,” says Dominguez.

Happy National Aviation Day and if you’re an aviation or A&P mechanic looking for your next opportunity, check out our current openings.