March 14, 2022
Inside a large hangar on the grounds of the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, students in the San Joaquin Valley College aviation maintenance technology program learn about the nuts and bolts – literally – of taking care of aircraft engines and airplanes.
There are about 60 students currently enrolled in the 17-month program, in which students attend full-time classes four days a week. Upon completion, students graduate with either a certificate or an associate degree, after which they can take exams to earn their airframe and powerplant licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration – necessary to land a coveted job with an airline.
The program doesn’t come cheap. Tuition for the certificate program is more than $35,000, while the associate degree program runs about $42,000, according to SJVC’s current college catalog.
But a renewed partnership between the college and Utah-based SkyWest Airlines is providing not only financial assistance, but an inside track for a job with the company at one of its maintenance bases across the U.S.
“We’re offering students money at this school if they will commit to work for us” after they graduate, said Eli Mayes, SkyWest’s director of maintenance, at a recruitment event Wednesday at the SJVC aviation campus at the airport. “We’re offering $4,500 in educational assistance if they’ll sign a three-year commitment with us.”