The Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) has appointed Suzanne Markle, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), as one of its six new directors of the board. Markle will serve a four-year term.
In this capacity, Markle will help shape the future at trade schools that train students to enter one of the most important and in-demand career fields in the country: aircraft and avionics maintenance technicians.
According to Boeing’s 2022-2041 Pilot and Technician Outlook, 134,000 new mechanics and avionics pros will need to join the field over the next 20 years to meet the growing needs of the aviation industry. Many of these openings are due to upcoming retirements, as ATEC estimates 38% of current aviation mechanics are at least 60 years of age — and if these retirees aren’t replaced, airlines will be forced to reduce the number of flights they operate.
“Every day, the FAA handles 45,000 flights carrying 2.9 million passengers, and every one of them depends on the experience of skilled technicians to ensure their flights are safe, efficient, and on time,” says Markle. “With so many senior technicians about to retire, attracting new talent to fill these positions is crucial, and that means we need to rethink how the skilled trades are presented as career options to students of all ages, genders, and interests.”
As president and CEO of PIA, Markle oversees the strategic direction and operation of all PIA locations and programs. She is a member of the nomination committee for the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was appointed by the DOT to serve on its Women in Aviation Advisory Board. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Seton Hill University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from California University of PA, and a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University. Markle has been with PIA in various capacities since 1999.
New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects about 13,000 annual job openings for aviation maintenance and avionics positions over the next decade. With an average annual salary of $65,550 — and with PIA graduates’ typically starting their careers at $20 to $24 per hour — aspiring technicians can enter this rewarding and stable career field while incurring significantly less student loan debt than a traditional four-year college.