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The industry employs scientists, engineers, technicians, production workers, and administrative and support activities personnel.
Production workers include working supervisors and all non supervisory workers engaged in fabricating, processing, assembling, inspection, receiving, storage, handling, packing, warehousing, shipping, maintenance, repair, janitorial and guard services, product development, auxiliary production for a plant's own use, and record keeping and other services closely associated with the above operations. The chief categories of plant occupations are sheet metal work, "other" metal work, machinery and tool fabrication, assembly and installation, inspecting and testing (quality control), flight check-out, materials handling, maintenance, and protective custodial.
A little more than half of all aircraft manufacturing workers are production workers ("blue collar" occupations). These workers fabricate, assemble, install, test and inspect the many parts which make up a modern airplane. Other plant workers handle material and provide maintenance and custodial services. These occupations range from highly skilled to semi-skilled jobs.
Production workers work in departments such as riveting, metal-processing, and welding which are noisy areas of work. Some jobs generate fumes and odors. Some employees, especially assemblers, work in hard-to-reach cramped spaces requiring much stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling to perform their tasks. Many operations, such as assembly, welding, molding, mechanic and machine shop jobs require frequent lifting or carrying of heavy (up to 50 pounds) and medium (up to 25 pounds) loads. Although some hazards are associated with the aircraft industry, aviation plants are safe working places -- with an injury-frequency rate averaging less than that for the manufacturing industry as a whole.
Shift work (with three in operation) is normally required for production workers. An increase in salary is generally paid to workers on the second and third shifts.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
Training requirements for plant jobs vary from a few days of on-the-job instruction for semi-skilled workers, such as material handlers and guards, to several years of formal apprenticeship for craftworkers such as machinists, tool and die makers, aircraft mechanics, sheet metal workers, pattern-makers, and electricians. Many levels of skill are required for many plant jobs. Workers with little or no previous training or experience may be hired for the less skilled assembly jobs. Skilled assemblers may need two to four years of plant experience. Generally speaking, starting workers with little experience serve as helpers or assistants and develop their skills on the job and through plant training courses.
A high school graduate or the equivalent is generally required. An individual may increase chances of being hired by acquiring skills through vocational or technical school attendance.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Wages and Benefits
Salaries for employees in this industry are generally higher than those for similar work in most other industries. Wages vary according to workers' skills and experience and they differ from plant to plant, depending upon the type of plant and the locality. The following fringe benefits are common in this industry and are comparable with those in other industries: two weeks of paid vacation after employment of one to two years, and three weeks, after ten or twelve years; six to eight paid holidays per year; one week of paid sick leave; insurance covering life, medical, surgical, hospital and accident and health; and retirement pensions.
Shift work (with three in operation) is normally required for production workers. An increase in salary is generally paid workers on the second and third shifts.
Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.
Where the jobs are and who hires
Aircraft manufacturing jobs exist in almost every state. The largest concentration is in California. Other states with large numbers of jobs include New York, Washington, Connecticut, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Kansas, Alabama, Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia. Aerospace employment is highest in the Pacific region, where more than 40 percent of all aerospace employees work. Another 14 percent live and work in New England, while ten percent are in the Middle Atlantic states. The remaining 36 percent are scattered throughout the central and southern United States.
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Opportunities for Advancement
Workers may advance to positions requiring higher skills and experience such as foremen, inspectors and supervisors. Educational opportunities are available to advance to semi-professional positions. A possible advancement program in engineering might be from Assembler to Quality Control (testing) to Engineering Technician to Junior Engineer and finally to Engineer. Union contracts normally require advancement of semi-skilled workers to be based upon seniority of qualified individuals. By participating in courses conducted by the company or by vocational or technical schools in the local community, semi-skilled workers may prepare themselves for a skilled job, such as blueprint reading, welding or mechanic.
Aviation plays a prominent role in our economy and new opportunities will always be available. Today, larger airports are expanding and smaller "reliever" airports are being upgraded to serve general aviation traffic being relocated from congested airports. The introduction of low cost airlines is also playing a role in creating opportunities in the industry.
To view the latest industry opportunities, become an Avjobs.com Member today! Click here to get started!
Outlook for the Future
Employment in the aerospace industry is expected to rise above recent levels in the next few years. Thousands of jobs will open each year because of the growth expected in the industry, and to replace workers who retire, die or transfer to jobs in other industries. Job opportunities should be most favorable for highly trained workers such as scientists, engineers, and technicians. Less skilled and unskilled workers will also be needed to fill entry level production positions.
Growing demands for civilian aircraft products is an important element underlying the expected increase in aviation employment. The increasing mobility of the population should encourage expanded use of large wide-bodied commercial aircraft and development of rapid air taxi operations between major urban centers. Increased business flying, expanded use of helicopters for such tasks as medical evacuation and traffic reporting, and exports of aircraft to foreign nations are some of the other major factors influencing the growth of civilian aircraft manufacturing.
A portion of the production of the aviation industry is devoted to national defense. Therefore, the industry's future depends on the level of federal expenditures. Changes in these expenditures usually have been accompanied by sharp fluctuations in employment.
Sales in the aerospace industry reached $137 billion, up about $5 billion. Among the three major areas of aerospace activity, the largest increment of gain was in commercial sales, but sales to the Department of Defense also increased substantially. NASA sales remained relatively constant. Sales of commercial transports are expected to remain strong with an increase of more than $4 billion over the current year's level.
Aerospace industry employment climbed to 1,032,000. Employment is expected to exceed 1,100,000 -- an increase of 23 percent in 24 months. The projected dramatic increase in employment is primarily due to civil aircraft production, especially commercial transport aircraft. In this category alone, the employment level is expected to reach 81,000 -- an increase of 80 percent over the low employment levels 44,700.
Military aircraft manufacturing is expected to reverse recent trends and show a modest six percent gain in employment.
Helicopter manufacturing employment will increase by 8.6 percent, continuing the gradual growth pattern of the 1990's.
The category of "other related products" -- avionics, basic research, and non-aerospace products and services -- continues strong and reached an employment level of 263,000, an increase of about 42,000 employees. It is expected that an additional 22,000 people will be employed for such programs, reaching an estimated 285,000.
Because workers who are highly trained and are aware of new developments are needed in the industry, the majority of aircraft plants support some kind of formal worker training program. Most of the plants conduct training classes themselves, others pay tuition and related costs for outside courses taken by their employees at vocational or technical or adult education programs offered by the local community, and some plants do both. Some classes are held during working hours, with the trainee being paid for class time. Other classes are held after working hours. Courses are available for practically every occupational group and cover many skills and areas of knowledge.
Many aircraft plants provide their employees with financial aid for college enrollment. This aid is furnished either as direct grants or in the form of scholarships and it is possible for an employee to work and to continue his or her education at the same time. These opportunities help workers advance more rapidly to higher skills and to better paid jobs.
The further one goes in school, the greater are the opportunities for employment. The best jobs go to those with the most education. At least a high school education is practically mandatory for any worker in the aircraft industry. Post-secondary school training is vitally important and such training may be obtained from: area vocational-technical schools, technical institutes, junior or community colleges, or four-year colleges or universities.
To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.
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