So What’s the Outlook like in Aircraft Maintenance Jobs
How much do you think pilots starting out in their careers make? I was once waiting at a small airport in New York State when there was a flight delay. And the pilot of the plane was sitting right next to me. It was an American Eagle flight. The pilot and I got to talking, and he said that he made $20,000 a year. This was 10 years ago. That’s not really what most people imagine life is like for a pilot. In truth though, that’s what it’s like for anything to do with commercial flying. For instance, consider aircraft maintenance jobs.
For instance, in general, people truly admire how immensely complex the machinery of an aircraft can be. Skilled car mechanics in particular, since they know a lot about engines and mechanics, can really appreciate the true beauty of the mechanics of aircraft. When they are bumping along in their career making perhaps $50,000 a year, they think longingly of how great it could be if they could just apply themselves to learning aircraft maintenance and then applying for a job in that field. They imagine they would make at least twice what they’re making working on cars.
That’s where they’re completely wrong. Aircraft maintenance jobs are hell. No, really. It may be hard to imagine how, but bear with me.
The thing is, a friend of mine, wasted 10 years of his life going after exactly this kind of dream. It’s not that he didn’t research how much money he would make. He did. But he looked at what people made working 20 years in the field. He imagined that if they made good money, he’d make reasonable money, too. But the way airline pilots start out make minimum wage, aircraft maintenance jobs pay minimum wage and beginning, too.
There’s another problem. Ever since all the airlines decided to downsize their fleets, they’ve downsized their aircraft maintenance departments to him. They have furloughed thousands of mechanics. If they should ever decide to hire more aircraft maintenance mechanics, they have to pick from those people first.
Basically, my friend is not going to get any kind of employment maintaining aircraft with any major or minor commercial airline until thousands of current mechanics grow old and retire. And all those furloughed mechanics are recalled, and they grow old and retire. In short, the aircraft maintenance field is completely dead for any new applicants. Aircraft maintenance jobs don’t exist anymore.
But let’s say that you get very, very lucky. Let’s say that you do land a job with United and Delta or something. What’s life going to be like that?
Well, you have to understand that maintaining aircraft is a total union lock. Everything goes by what the union says. Seniority is totally everything. Until you have 20 years on the job, life is going to be very difficult in just about every way. Not only do you get paid peanuts, you have to work mandatory overtime, you have to work night shifts constantly, you will never get a vacation when you need one and so on. In other words, stay away.