PIA Youngstown Career Fair Draws 60 Aviation Students

VIENNA, Ohio — Kyle Bacich was among the dozens of students at a job fair Thursday sponsored by the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics Youngstown campus. He might have landed a job there.

The 15 employers on hand interviewed 60 students, including Bacich. “We hope to have 60 job offers by the end of the day,” says Joseph DeRamo, PIA campus director.

Bacich, a PIA student graduating in December, got at least one job offer at the fob fair at Youngstown Warren Regional Airport. Before enrolling at PIA, he worked in a packaging plant.

“You’re kind of stuck in Youngstown,” says the 34-year-old from Austintown. “I decided to check out the aviation industry and really the sky’s the limit. You go anywhere you want.”

Demand for newly qualified aviation personnel remains strong as 612,000 pilots, 626,000 new maintenance technicians and 886,000 new cabin crew members are needed to fly and maintain the global commercial fleet over the next 20 years, according Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook 2021-2040

The median annual wage in May 2020 for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $66,440 and $67,840 for avionics technicians in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. About 14,400 openings for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians are projected each year over the next decade.

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Gallery images include student Kyle Bacich, PIA Youngstown Campus Coordinator Carrie Grimes, student Evan Griffiths, Airborne’s Brandan Curl and Bailee Carson, and Nicole Richard, recruitment manager with Constant Aviation.

Airborne Maintenance and Engineering Services in Wilmington, Ohio, has openings for aircraft technicians, engineers and avionics, but mostly aircraft mechanics. Those technicians earn $21, says Airborne recruiter Bailee Carson.

She attends up to 50 job fairs per year, but says she gets the best mechanics from PIA.

“During COVID, a lot of the major airlines were laying off while we were ramping up,” Carson says. “We increased our staff by over 200 employees and we’re still 150 short. The need is definitely still there because of the pandemic.”

Constant Aviation of Cleveland, Orlando, Fla., and with mobile-based employees near U.S. airports, employs around 500. This company seeks to hire maintenance, avionics, composite and structure technicians, along with interior painters. 

“We probably have about 50 open spots that we could fill tomorrow if we could wave a magic wand,” says Nicole Richard, recruitment manager at Constant Aviation. 

Within the first hour of Thursday’s job fair, she says they had 40 male and female candidates. Those starting without experience make $25 an hour, while prospective employees with an aviation or military background can make more. Working a second or weekend shift increases an employee’s base pay, and Constant offers a $2,000 sign-on bonus for all technical positions.

Carrie Grimes, PIA campus coordinator in charge of placement and career services, says Air Wisconsin Airlines was offering a $10,000 sign-on bonus with 100% relocation fees.

“They’re not the only company,” she says. “Almost everybody has a sign-on bonus. Some are giving away $5,000 tool boxes. They’re really in need.”

DeRamo says these companies are looking for people who show up on time, can problem solve an aircraft, and are coachable. PIA offers the education that can lead to employment in 16 months for jobs that average around $24.50 an hour.

He adds students leave PIA with around $15,000 in debt, but offers like Air Wisconsin and others can put job seekers in the black. Most airlines offer free flights for their workers and families. 

DeRamo says this line of work is for “anybody who likes to work on complex, expensive, really cool toys.” 

“If that’s for you, we’ll teach you about planes,” he says. “Everybody here is joining at the same base basement level. It’s our job to build that foundation and take them to new heights.”

Evan Griffiths, a 25-year-old from North Canton, has been managing restaurants, but wanted a change of pace. He loves working on engines from four-wheelers, dirt bikes and trucks and looks forward to working in base or line maintenance after he graduates in December.

“You can tell the industry is hungry,” he says. “Everyone wants to get out and work. The pay is very competitive. Everybody needs somebody. Today’s economy, I guess you could say people are really getting pushed to offer the best they can, to make sure they take care of their employees.”

Pictured at top: Joseph Deramo, PIA Youngstown campus director, says there were 60 students applying for jobs at Thursday’s job fair in Vienna.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.