ATLANTA — Atlanta’s “hometown” Delta Air Lines is making a big push to hire new airplane mechanics as veteran workers prepare for retirement.

Corporations and businesses are practically begging people to fill high-paying jobs across major industries – and Delta wants to make sure that future mechanics know that these jobs pay the bills. In fact, Delta Air Lines pays its veteran “aviation maintenance technicians” upwards of $100,000 per year – comparable to a typical University of Georgia grad who makes just over $100,000 per year on average after several years in the workforce, according to payscale.com.

There are now more aircraft mechanics over 65 years old--getting ready to retire--than there are under 30, creating a vacuum of talent. CNBC reported that Delta plans to hire more than 2,000 mechanics over the next decade to cover retirements – and they’re trying to work that career path into young minds as they look toward future education.

“The younger generations are just not interested in the career,” said Jon Byrd with the Aviation Training Center of Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

In July 2018, Delta announced it would give $350,000 in grants to aviation schools around the country to lure younger workers, encouraging them into technical fields, according to CNBC. The airline is partnering with Georgia Northwestern Technical College to try and attract more future aircraft mechanics to work for Delta.

The tuition at GNTC to earn Federal Aviation Administration certification costs about $11,000 for the two-year program. That’s a fraction of what the tuition costs for a four-year degree at UGA, about $38,000, according to the University System of Georgia. 

Not sold quite yet?

Aircraft maintenance is considered one of the top 17 high-demand career fields in the country, which means that Georgia students in those programs can qualify for a HOPE Career Grant – which could mean free tuition.

Right now, there are 39,000 students across Georgia attending two-year technical colleges for free, earning degrees in those high-demand career fields.  By comparison, there are more than 320,000 students paying to earn degrees from the State University System of Georgia, students who are likely to earn salaries comparable to their two-year technical college counterparts.

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