It's About Attitude
If I had the opportunity to give a new mechanic advice on having a successful career in aviation maintenance, I would say that the most important things are to work hard and have a positive attitude!
Almost all the companies I talk to these days are having difficulty finding mechanics to meet their operational needs. Because of this, wages and benefits are finally starting to go up. This may result in a much-needed influx of people pursuing A&P certificates at Part 147 schools. It is also an opportunity for technically-skilled workers to get jobs at Part 145 repair stations and work under the supervision of A&Ps — some eventually pursuing their A&P certificate based on work experience.
That may present a problem. If someone is going to school to become a mechanic just because they can make good money, they will likely be disappointed — especially early on.
My dad told me a long time ago that if you chase a dollar, you will never catch it. But if you work hard and have a positive attitude you will be successful.
When I chat with supervisors and DOMs, I always like to ask what they look for in new employees. Just about every one of them says that having a positive attitude is at the top of the list. Technical knowledge can be taught. But if someone has a bad attitude, they make life hard for the whole team.
I had the opportunity to chat with a fairly new A&P mechanic a few weeks ago. I was a bit surprised by his attitude. He had worked for four different companies since he graduated from A&P school a year and a half ago. He was laid off once, and the other three times he quit because of personal issues.
During the conversation I found out that showing up to work was not a big priority for him. He would call in sick at the drop of a hat if he just didn’t want to go in. He also shared how he hated when “older” mechanics told him how to do a job. “I’m an A&P,” he said. “I know what I am doing.”
It was also apparent that he was chasing the dollar. He was already looking for his next job that would pay more money. To him, it was not about growing as a mechanic and learning from others who had more experience than him. There was no passion for the job. It was all about making money.
Unfortunately, this young man doesn’t get it. He is miserable in his job and keeps thinking that it is the company or coworkers’ fault, when all he needs to do is look in the mirror. I wish him the best, but success will be nearly impossible if he doesn’t change his attitude.
I attended Texas A&M University until the oil field industry collapse of the late ‘80s caused me to change career paths (I was majoring in petroleum engineering). I’m so glad I ended up working in aircraft maintenance! Anyway, there is a saying at Texas A&M — “Highway 6 runs both ways!” Essentially it means that Highway 6 will get you to College Station, TX. It also leads out. If you aren’t cut out for life at Texas A&M, nothing is stopping you from leaving.
The same is true for our profession. It may sound harsh, but it’s true — If you are miserable in your job and have a poor attitude, you are free to go find another job or career. We have a high level of responsibility to our customers to safely inspect and maintain their aircraft. They deserve the best. We don’t need bad attitudes affecting the culture in our workplace or the airworthiness of the aircraft we work on.
And if you are new to our industry, remember — work hard and keep a positive attitude!
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