The North Idaho College Aerospace Center for Excellence is now a Federal Aviation Administration-certified school for aviation mechanics.
FAA representatives presented the certification to NIC officials Tuesday at the center.
The college received a nearly $3 million federal grant in late 2012 that helped create the Aerospace Center in Hayden, which has offered advanced manufacturing programs since the fall of 2013. To date, 87 students have been taught hands-on skills fabricating and repairing composite parts, operating a CNC mill, or learned about non-destructive testing methods in that program.
According to the Idaho Department of Labor, aircraft mechanics in Idaho have a median salary of $22 an hour, with even higher average wages across the nation.
Students who commit to a 12-month training program through the NIC Aerospace Center can start Aug. 24 and become eligible to sit for the required FAA Airframe Mechanic exams by August 2016.
Idaho Department of Labor data also reveals that North Idaho has 20 percent of the state’s aerospace employment, second to the state’s airport hub in the southwestern region. From 1999 to 2009, regional aerospace employment grew at a faster rate than anywhere else in the state, giving aerospace a higher concentration of jobs in North Idaho than in any of the other five regions.