Personnel Considerations

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Signs Point to Improvements in Job Market for Aviation Grads

June 24, 2013

Hear a Flight Plan podcast on the aviation employment market for collegiate graduates.

The long, cold winter appears to have eased its grip on the aviation employment market as the 2013 crop of graduates from aviation programs at universities around the nation look for their first post-collegiate job opportunities.

“Is 2013 looking better than, say, the years between 2009 and 2012? I’d like to say so, yes,” said Brian Carhide, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University executive director of career services. A recent analysis of industry hiring data by appears to concur.

The website, which specializes in matching candidates with aviation jobs, spotted first-time listings for 344 avionics engineers, 565 aviation mechanics and 199 aviation maintenance workers. There were also 263 openings for aviation managers.

“The technical end is very promising,” Carhide observed. “The professional pilot area is still growing. On the maintenance side and in engineering, there’s a lot of hope.”

Those who have the best chance at finding jobs soonest after graduating are those who planned ahead, Carhide said.

“I would say 50 to 60 percent of those who will have jobs right after graduation are those who were interns. The rest will jump on the job fairs, career fairs and events like NBAA2013,” he suggested.

Another avenue for 2013 graduates to explore is air traffic control. “With the vast number of retirees projected by the FAA, that’s an area of great promise,” explained Dr. Tara Harl, executive director of Aviation Workforce Development.

As much as 2013 graduates are looking for jobs, she said, business aviation is looking for them.

“The average age in flight departments around the country now is between 52 and 53 years old,” said Harl. “Business flight operators are waking up and realizing that they have to do more creative things to bring in young blood. For instance, you can’t say you want a 5,000-hour pilot who’s already qualified in a particular variant of Learjet and is ready to fly left seat. You have to be willing to develop a young person for that position, to bring in a lower-time pilot and put them in the right seat first. It’s a change to the cultural mindset.”

Carhide agreed with that notion.

“I tell students who walk in my door, ‘You gotta network, network, network.’ But you know, the same is true if you want to compete to hire new talent. Some of the outreach I’m doing is going to the local schools – even the elementary schools – and talking at career days.”

Business aviation is still not at the front of graduates’ minds, Carhide said, suggesting it is up to business aircraft operators to do more in that area. “We have to take part in outreach programs at all levels of education, ” he explained. “Get out and talk to a younger crowd. Feed that interest in aviation. Get them excited.”