Western Maricopa Education Center’s Aviation Program Soars to New Heights


Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), a career technical education (CTE) public school district serving Phoenix, Arizona, is preparing students to enter the aviation industry with high-value credentials.

In 2021, 13 out of 26 West-MEC’s high school aviation program students were able to head straight into the workforce after completing the program for directly related employment in the aviation industry. Careers can be secured in manufacturing, airlines, hangars, airfields and repair stations.

The pandemic exacerbated employment shortages in the aviation sector by slowed-down training and hiring and early retirements, but now the industry is taking off.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently reported that airline industry employment has reached beyond pre-pandemic levels. Employment increased to 767,263 passenger and cargo airlines workers in June 2022, which is 23,893 more jobs than in June 2019.

“The world has been through difficult circumstances the past couple of years but, as bad as things were, it’s never been this good,” said West-MEC Aviation Instructor Terry Menees. “The older generation is starting to move on, creating many new job opportunities for young adults. Now that travel is open, people want to get out and explore the world again.”

Students also test for industry-standard certifications at West-MEC, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, at no additional cost. Earning a high-value credential such as the FAA helps students achieve a career as an airframe technician, powerplant technician, air transportation technician, and many more. The knowledge obtained from the aviation program is transferable to a broad spectrum of careers within the aviation industry.

West-MEC students, both in the high school and adult programs, are consistently able to get great jobs right out of school, something that was tough to do even a couple of years ago. West-MEC even trains students for the job-seeking process through industry tours and interview prep.

Students who completed their aviation program in 2021 are now employed by Goodyear Airport, PDS Tech (Honeywell), McAllister Aviation, Aeroteams(AerSale), Airtime Aircraft, PDS Tech Honeywell), AZ Flight Training Center, Aersale and SkyQuest Aviation, to name a few.

Menees added, “With the vast number of opportunities in aviation, it is more important than ever for young people to prepare. When they walk out of the West-MEC doors, there’s a tremendous chance of getting a good job after the proper certification process.”

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