TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Boeing estimates in the next 20 years, more than 700,000 aircraft technicians will be needed. Pima Community College is closing in on the opportunity.
“We need people to work on airplanes. Everybody flies nowadays,” said Eric Ross, PCC aviation tech instructor.
Aviation tech might not be the first thing students coming out of high school think about. It doesn’t require a four-year degree, and there are only three schools in Arizona that offer programs necessary for the required certificate. However, starting pay can be around $20 an hour, and those in the field can work to maintain, build and install a variety of airplane parts. The pay and opportunity for travel can be a big perk for some seeking the industry. It is certainly not an office job.
“I looked into chemistry as well as environmental science. I felt like those weren’t the fit for me,” said Dakota Schorzman, a student in PCC’s Aviation Tech program.
She wanted something more hands-on, and when she came across the program at PCC, she signed up. She just finished her general studies.
“There’s a lot of science and math involved, but you also get to work with your hands, and that’s what I missed when I was working with chemistry and environmental science,” said Schorzman.
PCC’s Aviation Tech program currently houses about 125 students a year, but that will soon double. The State is giving PCC a one-time allocation of $15 million to construct a new hangar and facility for more students. The expansion will be open for the 2021 school year.
PCC hopes to hire 14 more staff members, doubling their numbers as well. They are looking at other funding sources for the $5 million they say they need for staffing.
PCC said the program currently has a waiting list of about 50 students.