Aviation repair apprenticeship offers alternative to high-priced higher education

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast relaunches program, seeks applicants

By Jennifer Ready - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Americans currently owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, and by 2023, 40 percent may default on those loans.

The cost of a higher education has many looking at alternatives.

One option is the apprenticeship program at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast, which offers college credit and a paycheck.

The program, in partnership with St. Johns River State College, is being offered again for the first time in several years.

There are nearly 100 openings for people looking to make some money while receiving training for a lifelong career in aviation maintenance and repair.

“What makes it great is, instead of graduating college with $80,000 in debt, people graduate with no debt and a job that pays well,” said Clifford Davis, public affairs specialist at FRCS.

Those jobs are similar to the aircraft mechanics who work in hangars at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

“These guys that work up and down this line, they know they are providing America’s war fighters with the aircraft and the tools they need,” Davis said.

The apprenticeship program lasts between three and four years, depending on the job specialty. After that, students are guaranteed a job at the fleet maintenance facility for at least two years. 

“We employ a lot of retired military, but even though that means they have a lot of experience that also means many of them are getting up in age, so in order to counteract that, we need to hire some younger folks to come in and learn from these experienced artisans -- some of them have 40 years of experience in this trade -- to be able to replace those guys when they decide to retire,” Davis said.

The apprenticeship pays around $15.60 an hour, and the deadline to apply is Feb. 1.

To apply, visit USAjobs.gov.

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