THE aerospace industry deals with the engineering aspects of aviation — primarily the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and manufacturing of aircraft parts and systems.

Over the years, Singapore has developed into the most comprehensive MRO hub in Asia.

In 2009, amid the global economic slowdown, the Singapore aerospace industry achieved an output of $7 billion, comparable with its 2008 output.

The setting up of the Seletar Aerospace Park by 2018 is expected to contribute $3.3 billion annually and create employment for over 10,000 people.

A flying start

Career prospects for the industry are bright and progression is significant with the right certifications and experience. Some examples of careers in the industry are:

n Trainee aircraft technician. You can become a technician and eventually rise to the post of engineering supervisor, drawing an average salary of between $2,300 and $4,300.*

* Non-destructive testing (NDT) inspector. You can be promoted to supervisor and NDT engineer and draw an average salary of $3,200 to $4,900.*

* Assistant technical service engineer. You can become an engineer and manager, drawing up to $6,500.*

Skills-based training

It is an exciting time for the aviation industry. With newer aircraft types — such as the A380 from Airbus and the 787 Dreamliner from Boeing — the industry requires a pipeline of skilled personnel, equipped with the most updated skill sets.

Besides courses offered by universities, polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education, the Aerospace Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) programme provides an alternative upgrading pathway for workers.

Developed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) in close consultation with the industry, WSQ is an industry-recognised training and skills certification system for workers that is competency-based, practical and accessible.

WSQ offers workers pathways to scale their careers.

For example, a trainee can attain a WSQ Higher Certificate in Aerospace Maintenance after three to four months of training. The trainee can continue to upgrade himself at the Air Transport Training College (ATTC) or Temasek Polytechnic.

ATTC offers three WSQ-aligned training courses, namely the Specialist Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering (Same), the Professional Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance & Engineering (Pame) and the Foundation Degree in Aircraft Engineering awarded by Kingston University.

Approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and incorporating the WSQ Higher Certificate in Aerospace Maintenance (Aircraft Maintenance) in its curriculum, the Same programme offers graduates the opportunity to attain the status of a Singapore Airworthiness Requirement SAR-66 category A certifying technician upon accumulating a minimum of one year’s relevant work.

In addition, Temasek Polytechnic offers the Professional Certificate in Aerospace Engineering (WSQ-aligned) and Professional Higher Certificate in Aerospace Engineering (WSQ-aligned), in collaboration with the Lufthansa Technical Training Singapore, a leading training provider in the aviation industry.

Aspiring aerospace technician Hairulnizum Samat signed up for the one-year Same programme and found himself employed by a component MRO aerospace company less than two months after his graduation.

He says: “Being an industry-developed course, I found it very relevant and am able to apply what I learnt in my work now.”

WDA continues to partner world-class institutions to introduce new courses. This month, two new aviation degree courses were introduced by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Erau) and UniSIM, with WDA’s support, to further the progression pathway for professionals, managers and engineers in the industry.

The Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance prepares aerospace professionals for leadership roles in their organisations.

The Bachelor of Science in Aviation Business Administration caters to those in the aviation regulation, airlines and airport management businesses.

Erau is the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious university specialising in aviation and aerospace.

Besides these degree programmes, a series of short master classes and executive development programmes on new and emerging industry trends and technologies will also be offered to help Singapore’s aerospace professionals stay at the forefront of the industry.

* Salaries before functional allowance and overtime payments, where applicable.

Find out more about the exciting career prospects of the aerospace industry at the AeroCareer Pavilion at Career & Training 2010: Education 2010 at Suntec Singapore, Level 6, from March 4 to 7. You may obtain a free copy of the Singapore AeroCareer Guide 2010/11 published by the Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore) at the pavilion.