After spending a number of years as a sales representative, Dan Guinee was looking for a career change. He had earned a B.A. in elementary education from the University of Minnesota Duluth but never taught. Then he attended a Lake Superior College Aviation Career Night where he spoke with an LSC advisor and a AAR representative. “I learned that AAR would pay for my retraining. I came home, told my wife I was quitting my job to go to AAR and start the AMT program at LSC in the fall. Although she had concerns, my wife said, ‘I know it will make you happy and I support your decision.'”
Guinee recently earned his lifetime FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license through LSC’s FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program. He has been employed at AAR in Duluth for the past two years. Now with his A&P license in hand, Guinee has been promoted to a Tech III mechanic position. “I find it very satisfying to take something that wasn’t working correctly or is worn out and making it safe for the flying public.”
Guinee worked full-time at AAR while attending a LSC AMT night cohort full-time. “The program takes dedication and a lot of work,” he said. “You can’t take it lightly. It is directed by the FAA. You must be willing to put in the time.” LSC offers an AMT diploma or an AAS degree.
Guinee believes that you definitely need some mechanical aptitude to work on aircraft. “I didn’t wrench on cars as a kid but I had done a lot of home improvement projects. It helps to have a basic tool understanding but the AMT program at LSC will give even the most novice person knowledge of the tools used in aviation.” Guinee also noted that AAR mechanics follow specific and clear directions from the aircraft manufacturer manuals but you are challenged to use your mechanical skills and knowledge. “The manuals tell you what steps to do to accomplish a job but sometimes you have to use your mechanical abilities to problem-solve how to properly complete the steps.”
As part of AAR’s tuition reimbursement program, Guinee is committed to work a two-year period with the company. He notes that AAR provides plenty of room for career growth for employees. “Many of our managers are former mechanics who became leads and then supervisors,” said Guinee. “On the other hand, you can wrench the rest of your career and always have opportunities to learn more about the planes we work on.”
The aviation field offers a lot of room for mobility, especially if you want to see the country or the world. “When you earn a A&P FAA license,” said Guinee, “you are licensed not only to work on rotary aircraft, but also on helicopters, hot air balloons and blimps. These licensed mechanical skills can transfer over to a wide range of industries like amusement parks, utilities or clean energy such as wind turbines. There are many aviation-related jobs where you can work for regional airlines, manufacturers such as Cirrus, or AAR in Miami where they have a landing gear refurbishment operation.”