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Aviation Industry Retraining - Thoughts On Where to Begin?


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Salutations Squadron!

Sorry for broaching a potentially very serious topic; but a lot of younger gentlemen such as I had to take up part time work after becoming unemployed over the last year due to the current Global Economic/health situation, and I'm looking for advice in as many different places as possible right now. I was wondering if any of the other squadron members were going through re-training or back to university or technical school during the downturn, especially if they can work from home while doing so?

Also, are there are any aviation related jobs/industries that pay a manageable, living wage and wouldn't be totally miserable that require minimal retraining or that I would qualify for with my current information listed bellow: 

My current situation and education/experience level is:

A.A.S Automotive Maintenance and Repair, Ford ASSET Automotive.

Ford Automotive Technician: 3 Years Experience.
Subaru Car Salesman: 1.25 Years
Customer Service Rep/Course Writer for Online Racing School:  1 year
Customer Service Rep/Cashier, Speedway Station Stores: 3 months

Current employment situation: Day Job

Cashier at local fuel station working 2nd/3rd shift on swings Mon-Fri. $10/hr/$1400 monthly, Net.

Current Employment situation: Weekend/Contract Jobs

I'm working at a Racing school online doing course writing, instructing and scripting for $20/hr on week days occasionally when I'm free and $30/hr on weekends, roughly $50/week during slow months with no students with a peak of $3-4,000/mo during summer months, made a 3-quarter income of roughly  $16,000 last Spring->Fall after taxes. The tax rate on this self-employment/contract work is atrociously high, about %50-65. 

Average of only about another $600-1200/mo, Net.


Going Forward:

I've been doing the part time Job + Contract racing school gig for a little while now, the stress and exhaustion aren't immense and overwhelming but are starting to build up over time. My certifications from when I was a ford apprentice mechanic are now expired as I left that industry in 2019, so going back is not optimal for me. I was performing pretty poorly at the job, anyway, and while the industry needs people, I don't need the industry.

In my current position of juggling the contract work with the day time Femininum wage job, I'm making a survivable income while living with my Mother and my Fiancé, Sarah, but she's in university and not contributing to household income so I don't really have a ton free for expensive schooling or acquiring my own property, currently. 

As some of you know, I have a Juvenile Bi-Polar Disorder/Autism spectrum Diagnosis, so I'm already permanently ineligible for flight school. But I was wondering with the potential shipping/aviation/transportation industry rebound post COVID lockdown, if anybody is going to training or technical schools for aviation industries right now, and if they would recommend I also do so?

I'm just trying to look for some 1-3 year plan options so that I don't have to keep two jobs going constantly and could work in a valuable industry I already have some cursory knowledge of. I'm located in Southern Minnesota and MSP international is 30-45 minutes drive away from me, with two smaller cargo airports and a Nat-guard/regional also close by. Aviation industries don't seem like a bad next step for a mostly technical worker such as my self.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this? Experiences, resources, school recommendations, job type recommendations or ideas for me to study are all massively appreciated. Sorry if this seems off color or hyper serious, or if it's in any way out of line. I'm starting to look at the next steps of my life into adulthood and, honestly, struggling a bit. 

 

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Sorry to hear of your troubles however there is good news. It sounds like your a young man so you literally have the world at your feet. The hard part is deciding on a course of action. 

1st thing, do a gut check on yourself, be brutally honest. What do you have an aptitude for (this is the most important, no point pursuing a career as a singer if you cant sing), what are your life goals (solidly middle class or live large & early retirement). Further things to consider are your personal drive (do you make it happen or watch it happen), communication skills (how well do you express yourself as well as listen), finally what are your home time requirements (many lucrative jobs require some travel) 
You will notice I didnt mention "What do you like to do". Allot of ppl will tell you to do what you enjoy because "you will never have to go to work" or some similar nonsense. I am here to tell you, if you chose a career field you enjoy at some point it WILL become work which will take the joy out of it. Far better to chose one that pays well so you can take some comfort in your misery :)

My own gig is logistics. I manage air, sea & truckload operations. There are a TON of jobs in my field most of which pay relatively well. From a lowly lumper who makes between $50-100 hand unloading a truck (mostly under the table & you can do 3-5 loads a day if you are a hard worker (do the math)). Its hard, dirty work but requires nothing more than a strong back to a material handler (forklift, crane etc) working docks unloading ships & trucks making $30-50k a year to a over the road truck driver who will see $60-100k a year. All of these jobs require just a modicum of training and are always in demand and that is just in my career field. 

There are many, many jobs available for those who are willing to work.
Find yourself a niche, have the courage to step our of your comfort zone then distinguish yourself by being on time, working hard & being respectful (all difficult tasks it would seem for the current generation) and you WILL succeed!

The old saying "Good help is hard to find" has never been more true than it is right now. 

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2 hours ago, TedsOnMeds said:

Aviation industries don't seem like a bad next step for a mostly technical worker such as my self.

@AngryGoat recently started on the road to A&P certification, and might be able to offer you some advice on the subject.

Additionally, you have great resources in @Vonrd and @Lipfert.  Both work / have worked in the field of aviation.  And I think @Ludwig might also be able to give some advice as well.

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Ted,

I started early on training to be an AME, it was restoring vintage aircraft with the Canadian Warplane Heritage. However, I did decide on an MBA course at University which took me out of town. I finished the BBA, but not the MBA as I secured a pretty good job at the machine shop that I worked at to pay for school. That turned into a Materials Management profession, then into facilitation of MRP, ERP & ERP II.

At some point while working for Atomic Energy of Canada, they needed and IT Manager more than a Materials Manager and they changed my business cards (100% true).

Been in IT ever since and have been running my own business now for twelve years.

I might be biased, but anything in the IT field is pretty bulletproof. With all the crazy this last year, we've had our best year so far and I executed a buyout of my business partner.

I'd take a look at Cisco Certifications, good place to start. IT Companies are always looking for Service Desk employees.

S!

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2 hours ago, Lipfert said:

 

I might be biased, but anything in the IT field is pretty bulletproof. With all the crazy this last year, we've had our best year so far and I executed a buyout of my business partner.

I'd take a look at Cisco Certifications, good place to start. IT Companies are always looking for Service Desk employees.

S!


Thank you, I will! 

Right now I'm sort of at the point that the stable income from an industry that provides a solid path and lets me reduce the amount of time spent on odd jobs/multiple income streams is far, far, far more important to me than the specific type of work being done, so this sounds like a good shout! 

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That is good stuff from Lipfert, I think he is spot on. 

The first thing that came to mind was if you were interested in mechanics work, getting your A&P would make a lot of sense. There are school opportunities all over the country. There is a definite pilot shortage and the airlines are hiring, but I can't say how that affects the maintenance side. I would have to think that there would be opportunities there. Larger schools have financing available so don't rule out something based on money until you have fully investigated.  There can be scholarships out there as well. 

ADX or aircraft dispatcher is something you might look into, training is not as extensive as A&P and it is an interesting career. If you move up into Part 121 air carrier you can put in your time and have a nice retirement set up. This is only one link I came across there are many more:

How to Become an Aircraft Dispatcher: From Start to Finish - Sheffield School of Aeronautics

I have known several guys that were dispatchers and they found the job interesting enough and lucrative when working for AA. 

You can always go to the airport and get a job working on the line (Line service technician) and from there you will make a lot of contacts and start networking within aviation itself. Probably pays as good as you are making right now and isn't a bad job and the tips can be fun pocket money. 

If not aviation, then Biomedical engineering is a growing field and you can get trained really fast. Working in hospitals on medical electronics is a satisfying job because you can and will make a difference in the care that patients receive. I went into the hospital which took me off flight status and I was not going to get back in the cockpit right away so I had to come up with a career overnight. I accidentally bumped into this because of a failure in my room which led me to "who works on this stuff anyway?"

You can make $35k starting out and move up into the $45-$55k range in a couple of years. If you get lucky, you can get that money and more right off the bat if you get on with a military medical facility and their requirements were not that steep. A civilian contractor working for the military can be challenging because of personalities and lifestyles you will encounter, but if you can keep to yourself and do you work you will be fine. One of the nice things about the job is you are pretty much working unsupervised. If you move into imaging CRT, X-ray, MRI you can make reasonable salaries in excess of $125,000 a year. I specialized in optics, cameras, scopes (endoscopic as well as OR Microscopes) and I was doing well. It kept me afloat until I was called back to AA.  Also, don't think that you need to be more than capable of applying common sense. Troubleshooting is a talent, but most of the clods doing this work simply go through the motions.  You might use an O scope once in 10 years and even then it would be at the most basic level. It is primarily board swapping and basic electronics. If it's burned, it's probably bad.  No one repairs boards anymore.

Look as some of those, if the Biomed interests you a friend of mine that I trained with now owns and operates his own school online. He is a top notch guy and his school is fully accredited and hours are even transferrable to other colleges and universities. Also they are approved by the Texas Workforce Commission and you can get a 2 years associate degree if you want to go that far. Otherwise you can get your initial training and an externship at a hospital and learn on the job which typically results in a job offer. I did a 90 day externship and was hired at $25 an hour and that was 15 years ago.  I really enjoyed my hospital and the staff there and I hated to leave them... but flying was always my first love so it was never a decision, they always knew that when I completed everything the FAA wanted I was leaving. 

 

Anyway... good luck with it and don't hesitate to ask.  

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12 hours ago, Ludwig said:

That is good stuff from Lipfert, I think he is spot on. 

The first thing that came to mind was if you were interested in mechanics work, getting your A&P would make a lot of sense. There are school opportunities all over the country. There is a definite pilot shortage and the airlines are hiring, but I can't say how that affects the maintenance side. I would have to think that there would be opportunities there. Larger schools have financing available so don't rule out something based on money until you have fully investigated.  There can be scholarships out there as well. 

ADX or aircraft dispatcher is something you might look into, training is not as extensive as A&P and it is an interesting career. If you move up into Part 121 air carrier you can put in your time and have a nice retirement set up. This is only one link I came across there are many more:

How to Become an Aircraft Dispatcher: From Start to Finish - Sheffield School of Aeronautics

I have known several guys that were dispatchers and they found the job interesting enough and lucrative when working for AA. 

You can always go to the airport and get a job working on the line (Line service technician) and from there you will make a lot of contacts and start networking within aviation itself. Probably pays as good as you are making right now and isn't a bad job and the tips can be fun pocket money. 

If not aviation, then Biomedical engineering is a growing field and you can get trained really fast. Working in hospitals on medical electronics is a satisfying job because you can and will make a difference in the care that patients receive. I went into the hospital which took me off flight status and I was not going to get back in the cockpit right away so I had to come up with a career overnight. I accidentally bumped into this because of a failure in my room which led me to "who works on this stuff anyway?"

Look as some of those, if the Biomed interests you a friend of mine that I trained with now owns and operates his own school online. He is a top notch guy and his school is fully accredited and hours are even transferrable to other colleges and universities. Also they are approved by the Texas Workforce Commission and you can get a 2 years associate degree if you want to go that far. Otherwise you can get your initial training and an externship at a hospital and learn on the job which typically results in a job offer. I did a 90 day externship and was hired at $25 an hour and that was 15 years ago.  I really enjoyed my hospital and the staff there and I hated to leave them... but flying was always my first love so it was never a decision, they always knew that when I completed everything the FAA wanted I was leaving. 

 

Anyway... good luck with it and don't hesitate to ask.  


Genuinely thank you for this advice, I started looking into the online dispatcher program and it seems like something I would be **EXTREMELY** interested in pursuing!!! It uses the firm, analytical communication skills I've picked up in the passenger seat as a contract race driving instructor the last 5-6 years, in my opinion, that combined with the quick education time seems like a perfect fit. 

If it wasn't too much trouble, could you maybe also get me the information for the Biomed tech school for me to potentially take a look at? A link to a program overview so I can call and talk to somebody as with the Aviation Dispatch info provided would be adequate, but if you had any additional more detailed info, of course I'd also be keenly interested!


Appreciate all the advice coming from the whole squadron right now. I just got off of a 3rd shift I was called in for at 11AM when I was on 1st shift the morning of the 19th and I've been up for 26-28 hours now and I'm feeling in a pretty weak place, mentally, and like I need a change in my life for the better. Coming home to read this has made a huge difference. Really I can't say thank you enough. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

How great is that...!  good for you man.

Do yourself a favor and get online and get the stuff you need now so you can start reading and go in ahead of the game. 

KING schools have been around forever. I used them for my FE written back in 1982. (VCR tapes back then!) 

Pilot Ground School (kingschools.com)

 

ATP (Part 121 / Dispatcher) Ground School & Test Prep (kingschools.com)

 

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21 minutes ago, Vonrd said:

That's great! Just curious why you decided for Dispatch as opposed to ATC. ATC has a higher salary range but is much more stressful.


As I have an Autism Spectrum diagnosis I'm automatically ineligible for ATC, or so I was told. I also wouldn't be able to afford the schooling for it until I had a better job than currently to begin with. 

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