Southwest is an anomaly by all means. They have their own equation all together. They are an airline run the way all airlines should be. I have a lot of respect for them but eveytime I ever applied for employment I never got a response. SWA hired many of my best guys at Dee Howard, including my supervisor. From what I gather, the best method is to get a few references from mechanics already working for SWA. They then walk your resume through for you and speed the process, nothing wrong with that.
I however wanted to go a different direction in my career, the thought of ever turning a wrench again curled my stomach, and I was burnt out. I have found my calling and love my current employer. My longevity is wholly based on the 728 family of aircraft. If that project succeeds, I will succeed, if not the future of Dornier my even be at stake.
Working for a manufacturer is even more stressful than the airlines but I have hope and optimism.
As far as A&P technicians coming out of school, well your future is not as bleak as I may have painted it. The "10 year cycle" is more as a reference than fact. In some respects it's right on the mark in other more refined ways it’s vague.
As I pointed out, there currently is a shortage of Licensed A&P technicians; this will play heavy in your favor. I predict the next 5-7 years will be the most lucrative years since the 1970's for A&P Technicians. That's a lofty thing to say agreed. Let me explain further.
A cross section of our industry currently indicates there are many technicians between the ages 50-60. In fact, I have seen industry indicators as high as 20% of "working" A&P technicians are in the 50-60 age group. This group will be retiring soon and the group to take their place; the 40-50 age bracket, is comparably smaller. These groups continue to get smaller all the way down the line. Reports indicate new A&P licenses issued have fallen dramatically.
The FAA and the ATA association have both pointed out there is in fact a shortage. Students interested in this field are not coming, why? Ill make it simple and brief then let you fill in the blanks, Pay and Liability. The A&P technician is severely under paid for the amount of liability put forth.
Recently a comparison was made in AMT magazine that compared the pay scales of Airline Mechanics to Car Mechanics. Want to know the result? I wasn’t surprised at all. The result was on the average, auto mechanics make the same and even more in some instances. See something wrong here? Liability.
The liability comparison for Airline Mechanics and Auto Mechanics is night and day. When was the last time an auto mechanic had his license pulled or did jail time like the ValuJet incident?
Airlines will fight kicking and screaming when it comes to paying the A&P Technician more money, look at what the Northwest Airline Technicians went thru. Why is it so easy for everyone to understand the liability the pilot incurs but not the liability the A&P incurs?
I could go on all day about this subject so I better cut it off now. I will leave you with a great poem about the A&P Mechanic. Good luck my brothers.
THE FORGOTTEN MAN
Through the history of world aviation
Many names have come to the fore,
Great deeds of the past in our memory will last
As they're joined by more and more.
When the first man started his labor
in his quest to conquer the sky
He was a designer, mechanic and pilot,
and he built a machine that would fly.
The pilot was everyone's hero
He was bold, he was brave, he was grand,
As he stood by his battered old biplane
With his goggles in his hand.
But for each of our flying heroes
There were thousands little renown,
And these were the men who worked on the planes
But kept their feet on the ground.
We all know the name of Lindbergh,
And we've read of his flight into fame,
But think, if you can, of his maintenance man,
Can you remember his name?
Now, pilots are highly trained people
And wings are not easily won.
But without the work of the maintenance man
Our pilots would march with a gun.
So when you see the mighty jet aircraft
As they mark their path through the air,
The grease-stained man with the wrench in his hand
Is the man who put them there.