I must admit, I am having a very tough time when it comes to promoting and recommending the career choice of aircraft mechanic these days. The aircraft mechanic in general has been beaten up like a ragdoll especially lately. Like previous posts admonish, if you want to be an aircraft mechanic, please be prepared to deal with substatially challenging obstacles for the rest of your career. I’ll even downgrade the career a bit and say this, Choose this career if you are broke and really need the money….. and are going to use the money to become something bigger and better. The Union job is sometimes your friend and sometimes your enemy. Sometimes it protects you, and sometimes it shackles you. It is absolutely astonishing how many elderly aircraft mechanics there. You have to ask yourself why? The union protections and the immense value of your accrued seniority (I belive) causes employees to feel like they’re in the back of an incredibly long line. And when they’re 25th year of their careers arrive, the finally find themselves on Day shift (for example). And they have several weeks of vacation. They’ve worked sooooo long to attain this perceived accomplishment to the point that they don’t want to let go of their hard fought lead in the seniority list. There is a sense of pride of course when you reach the front of a long line. So when you’ve been on that line for 25, 30, 35, or more years, its hard to let go of that value. Its hard to let go of the priveledge of working day shift with weekends off to leave and have nothing. This is why I think these elderly men stay with their airlines and milk the privledge of high seniority being a skilled mechanic be dammed
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Yeah, I’m sure you’ve guessed where I’m heading with this but its true and absolutely a viable option! If you want to be an A&P you definitely can get it through the military. And you don’t need to spend money to get educated . You literally can get paid while you learn! It can’t get any better than that. You can also establish health care for life if you finish the four year enlistment. You will get preferential treatment when applying for government jobs too so it’s not just a matter of getting that paycheck for studying. You will get to all the benefits of being enlisted and if you do wind up getting your A&P from your military experiences, you will have some money to pay off college debt, and for future collegiate advancement! How could you possibly go wrong with all these benefits!
I personally came really close to enlisting as an Air Force reservist, but my health has kept that dream from becoming a reality. If anything, all I have to say is if you’re not familiar with this option, it is not only viable, but in my opinion it’s a no brainer! One last thing, for some, this may the only option careerwise due to a financial inability to get an education while you work. For those of you in this situation, I used to think you were selling your soul to the government but now that I’ve wised up a bit, I feel that all in all its actually an equitable exchange and nothing to be ashamed about. Military personnel have access to excellent health benefits, dirt cheap cost of living, excellent training in becoming a self-disciplined and viable member of society. In the
military, you can work on the cutting edge technology turning wrenches on fighter jets at times. When you’re out, you’ll have the inside track on parallel civilian jobs. You’ll be able to apply to upgrade to Flight Engineer if the position becomes available and you’re interested in becoming a member of the flight crew. One last thing that is overlooked is when you do interview for that airline job once you’re out, you will be able to have those years of experience in your resume already! Aircraft mechanics fresh out of A&P School won’t be able to claim that and their job performance when they start will show it.
I hate to give out an “it depends”, so I’ll say yes “but” you have to be interested in becoming an A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic for the right reasons. I have personally been an A&P for 14 years and I love my job. However, there have been many times that my job has met with many challenges. In one’s career, an A&P mechanic goes through many wild roller coaster rides and I felt like I was going to avoid most of them, but the nature of this career finally cought up with me in more ways than one.
Personally, I did not want to work on small airplanes commonly known as General Aviation airplanes. I wanted to work on the “big jets”. So I was committed to do whatever it took to get started with an airline as soon as possible. Luckily for me, when I graduated from A&P school I was 23 and single. This helped me tremendously even though I didn’t even know it.
My first mistake started with my very first job. Well it would have been my very first job. You see, right before I obtained my A&P license, I interviewed with Delta airlines for what I thought was a mechanic helper’s position in Los Angeles. You see I had been an Angelino my whole life, and I wanted to work in LA only. What I didn’t know was that in this industry, you pretty much as a rule have to relocate to where the jobs are. But when you are young and have no experience on aircraft, you pretty much have no choice. I learned that the hard way. I was flown to Atlanta on Delta’s dime. I got to see what must
have been hundreds of Delta airline jets all over the place! The hangar sizes there in Atlanta were amazing! What was even worse, was that I had to undergo several psychological and analytical tests and only two of us from a group of maybe 14 or 15passed on to the interview stage which was actually just a job offer. But the job offer was one as a Mechanic Helper in Atlanta. Great news right? Read on! Had I spoken to any A&P anywhere I would have known that the job offer was a goldmine and could set me up for an amazing career as an airline mechanic. But you see I didn’t know any A&P Anywhere! So at the moment I was offered the job in Atlanta, what unbelievably came out of my mouth was “are you hiring in Los Angeles? I applied for Los Angeles” The gentlemen interviewing me said, “nope, we’re only hiring in Atlanta”. So I thought about it with agony and said, “I can’t relocate to Atlanta. Sorry I can’t accept the job”. Any A&P reading this is rolling his eyes right now. By the way, if you see yourself making
the same decision as I, I guarantee you that A&P work is not for you! I flew home and I could not get a job as an A&P anywhere for several months. I finally accepted a job as a mechanic helper for a contract heavy check company in Washington. In other words, I turned down and amazing job with only even more amazing potential for a much lesser job with no potential. So the lesson then is, you must be willing to go to the job, at least at the beginning. I know these sacrifices will become more and more impossible as you get older, get married, and have children. But at the beginning, you’ve got to take what you can get.
That’s why I say that you should choose aircraft maintenance as a carreer choice if and only if you absolutely love airplanes. So here are the many drawbacks of becoming an Airline mechanic. Number one: It’s all about seniority. And I mean ALL about seniority. Seniority dictates, what vacation days you will have, what days off you will have, what shift you will work, & sometimes what jobs you will get. If there are layoffs you will go first. If there is a undesirable task like going on a field trip or filling in for somebody, it will be deligated by seniority more often than not. As for me personally, that part sometimes is annoying but the part that I absolutely abhor about seniority is that it isn’t always accumulated fairly. For example a In 2001 (or so), American Airlines bought out TWA. What was amazing was that AA took all of the mechanics that worked at TWA and stapled them all to the bottom of the seniority list like if they were a bunch of new hires! Could you imagine spending 20 years earning your seniority and the next day, some new kid at another airline has more seniority than you? In 2005, when my airline merged with another, we were sold out so badly that all the techs that were on day shift and swing shift at our station ended up on graveyard shift and all techs of the (supposedly bankrupt) Airline we “merged” with took over day shift and swing shift because the other airline was much much older and had techs with more time with their company than we did with ours. Essentially after this merger, my company seniority went from having two thirds of my airline’s techs below me in seniority to having two thirds of the new merged airline’s techs above me in seniority. To me that was not very fair at all. Because airline mechanic jobs are so cush and are very protected due to the strength of employee unions, employees tend to stick around and not quit. So this means that you can be stuck on graveyard shift (generally the least desired shift for obvious reasons) for ten, sometimes fifteen years before you have accrued enough seniority to work swing or day shift. I share a shop with a mechanic that has over 40 years with the company! So my odds of making day shift in my current station are slim even 14 years into this career. Your hard-earned seniority can also go away in a second through firings as well. Northwest airlines experienced that first hand. Mechanics with them finally got a good contract after several years of relatively low pay. But soon thereafter, the techs were asked to take really tough cuts in pay. The techs revolted and ended up all getting fired!
If you don’t know what outsourcing is, in this business you will be very well versed in it by the time you are done in this industry. Airlines like Southwest and Jet Blue are generally liked. But a big reason for this is because they began their operations by sending out their heaviest maintenance work overseas to companies that pay their mechanics a small fraction of what they pay their own mechanics when they first began. My airline did it too but they did most of their heavy outsourcing before I got on. But just last fall, American decided to use a bankruptcy as an excuse to cut 4,000 mechanic jobs and outsource them! THOSE ARE 4,000 JOBS THAT ARE GONE AND WILL NEVER COME BACK! That I believe is the biggest reason why people are not more outraged than they are. It is the “never come back” part that hurts the most. Laid off techs typically get 5 years to eventually get their spot called back but It must happen… you guessed it! by seniority. Oh and if the airline that calls techs back never recalls all of them back within those five years, they are flat out of a job! So now you can see for yourself how rough it was for those TWA techs who got stapled to the bottom of American’s seniority list and then they promptly got laid off after September 11. It was the worst that can happen to you in an A&P career and it happened all at once. I worked alongside many ex TWA techs at my job. I think it is generally a good idea to expect one of these career changing events to occur at least once in your career. So you see why the decision to become an A&P should be made carefully and why you should only commit to this career because you absolutely love airplanes. By the way, if you notice why airline mechanics are so bitter, this is why. And with all that said, I still don’t hate my job. But I just wanted you to see why you shouldn’t do it for the money!
If you just want to be a mechanic, it’s a no brainer, don’t get into aviation! First of all, because I love aviation so much, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would prefer to be a car mechanic, but if you’re in a position where you’d be happy with either or, I’d recommend the auto mechanic route. Confused? Don’t forget, car mechanics practically always work day shift and usually have at least some part of the weekend off. For an aircraft mechanic, this priveledge may take many years to enjoy.A job as an aircraft mechanic is fun, but so many outside factors will wrestle with your will to continue! So be prepared and willing to overcome them for the love of your career.
In Aircraft Maintenance, the short sweet answer to this question is Absolutely not! If you attend a high dollar private school to get your A&P license, it should not be because you feel it will get you a job as an A&P mechanic any sooner.
However there are some benefits to going to private schools like Redstone, Spartain, or others
- If you have a lot of money to spend on your education, feel free to go to one of these institutions. You may get a better education compared to low budget public community colleges.
- If you must get your A&P as soon as possible (but question your reasons). Because public institutions follow the schedules of the public colleges they are inevitably affiliated with, they dont excactly get through the curriculum as fast as possible. My public community college for example, took 21 months to complete because I had to wait two summers in which the school offered no A&P courses.
- Finally, if you are receiving taxpayer funded GI bill money, you may as well attend a private big name school because you will in general get a better education at a quicker time, and if its free to you, so its a no brainer! Happy Hunting!
The question of attending a private or public school is just as complex as deciding which A&P school to begin with. However there are some main elements to making this decision that one should take into consideration. First and foremost is:
1) Do you have the money?
Private schools can cost upwards of $30,000 compared to public schools that can cost as little as a few thousand dollars a year. Of course, public schools typically don’t have as quality resources and a timeline for graduation as the big gun private A&P schools.
Information about the best Aircraft Mechanic schools for those who aspire to be A&P mechanics for an airline or general aviation
I glad to start best aircraft mechanic schools.com because I love my job and I’m looking forward to promoting the educational aspects of it. Of course being an aircraft mechanic for an airline or in general aviation is certainly not best job in the world but it is very satisfying and I definitely recommend this career to whoever is interested in becoming an A&P. Choosing an A&P school is not as easy a decision as you think and there are many different variables one needs to consider before making the decision to dive into an A&P school. And that’s what bestaircraftmechanicschools.com is for!