By Jennifer Ferrero, APR
Kevin Giordano, former Air Force Production Supervisor on the C-17, is feeling great after completing a rapid training Master Class for Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) at South Seattle College. Anyone who has ever stood next to the enormous C-17 aircraft will know that managing work surrounding this Boeing beast would be a challenge. But, after 21-years in the Air Force, Giordano was ready for another challenge in the civilian world. Prior to retirement, and with the help of Camo2Commerce and other retirement planning programs offered through the Air Force, Giordano found a short-term program to prepare for FAA certification at South Seattle College that fit the bill for his next stage of life. And, he recommends it for anyone who is seeking training for the FAA A&P licensing exam.
The FAA program offered by the college is an intense Master Class Seminar that prepares students to take their FAA Exam to become a certified A&P Mechanic. Ellen Gordon, one of the program administrators in Aeronautical Technology with South Seattle College said that there is 2-years’ worth of material that they have compressed into an 8-week program to rapidly prepare candidates to take the exam prior to, or shortly after separation from the military.
According to Gordon, there are several paths to becoming an FAA Certified mechanic. There are five schools in Washington that offer A&P training. Part of the challenge in preparing for the A&P exam, offered by the FAA, is that many military jobs, have exposure to certain, but not all areas of the material on the exam. Candidates can document experience in aviation mechanics, but Gordon noted, “this Master Class allows them to study key areas, that they may not have been exposed to in their job, to get them to the exam faster.”
About the program
The eight-week program is managed through cohorts, groups of people who study together over a time-period to prepare for testing. Active duty military can take the program, along with those that have already taken retirement from service. The costs of the program are often fully covered.
A trainer comes on-site to Joint Base Lewis McChord for the classroom training (3 days per week) and then the candidates take the hands-on, practical portion of the training at South Seattle College (2-3 days a week). All of the training during the 8-week course is to prepare a candidate to take the written, oral and practical A&P testing.
The program started in fall 2015, is a stepping stone to well-paying post military jobs as A&P Mechanics in the private sector. The program also provides support services such as resume writing and interviewing to prepare candidates to find jobs.
Several large companies have partnered with South Seattle and are supportive of the program such as, Columbia Helicopters, Aviation Technical Services, Alaska Air, and AeroControls. Other companies, such as Boeing, assist with interviews, tours and training in online job application processes. Gordon said that following the program, and for those the complete FAA testing, “People are getting snapped up!”
While there have been 26 graduates to the program to-date, Veteran Transition Specialist with South Seattle, John Phillips said that not all graduates have completed licensing by taking the exam. Some graduates have been hired right out of the program into employment. Gordon said, “A big boost to a person’s success is having that job lined up for them.”
After successfully passing the FAA exam, Giordano obtained a job with Aviation Technical Services as a Maintenance Supervisor; an accomplishment that Phillips said they are very proud of within the South Seattle program. Girodano concluded, “This is a great program for anyone in aircraft maintenance. If you put the effort into this program you can get your A&P before or just after you finish this program.The instructor is amazing and he takes the time to make sure you are ready for your test. The only way you will fail in this program is if you just don’t care.”
For more information about this program
Ellen Gordon, Ph.D.
Aeronautical Technology Grants
South Seattle College