Because employers need well-informed, knowledgeable employees who can keep up with the rapid technological advancements in aerospace manufacturing, the industry provides substantial support for the education and training of its workers. Firms provide on-site, job-related training to upgrade the skills of technicians, production workers, and engineers. Classes teaching computer skills and blueprint reading are common. Some firms reimburse employees for educational expenses at colleges and universities, emphasizing 4-year degrees and postgraduate studies.
Professionals, such as engineers and scientists, require a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field. For some jobs, particularly in research and development, a master’s or doctoral degree may be preferred.
Production workers may enter the aerospace industry with minimal skills. Mechanical aptitude and good hand-eye coordination usually are necessary. A high school diploma or equivalent is required, and some vocational training in electronics or mechanics also is favored.
Unskilled production workers typically start by being shown how to perform a simple assembly task. Through experience, on-the-job instruction provided by other workers, and brief, formal training sessions, they expand their skills. Their pay increases as they advance into more highly skilled or responsible jobs. For example, machinists may take additional training to become numerical tool and process control programmers or tool and die makers. Inspectors usually are promoted from assembly, machine operation, and mechanical occupations.
Due to the reliance on computers and computer-operated equipment, classes in computer skills are common. With training, production workers may be able to advance to supervisory or technician jobs.
To enter some of the more highly skilled production occupations, workers must go through a formal apprenticeship. Machinists and electricians complete apprenticeships that can last up to 4 years. Apprenticeships usually include classroom instruction and shop training.
Entry-level positions for technicians usually require a degree from a technical school or junior college. Companies sometimes retrain technicians to upgrade their skills or to teach different specialties. They are taught traditional as well as new production technology skills, such as computer-aided design and manufacturing and statistical process control methods.