After two decades working as an aircraft maintenance engineer, Paul Hinchey knew it was time to spread his wings. Wanting to spend time with his young family, he decided to move to a different role: as a teacher.
Sixteen years on, the 54-year-old is senior head teacher at the South Western Sydney Institute TAFE Aeroskills Centre in Padstow.
Hinchey began his career as an aircraft maintenance engineer with Qantas. He completed his apprenticeship and spent the first half of his career as an engineer, before moving to the corporate marketing and planning area.
Hinchey, 54, believes teaching is a great option for people who are looking to pass on their expertise.
And his enthusiasm has rubbed off on his children with his son Chris, 27, having just finished his eighth year with Qantas as an aircraft maintenance engineer.
"It's a rewarding career because you are passing on all your knowledge to the students,'' he says. "And they keep you young at the same time.''
Hinchey says anyone looking to become a teacher should have done an apprenticeship in the area they wish to teach and have a minimum of five years' experience. He says a Certificate IV in workplace assessment, or any other training can also help.
His role as head teacher, Hinchey explains, involves teaching and administration duties: "We work with the skills council and other bodies within the TAFE curriculum to make sure our courses fit in with what the industry actually needs.''
Aircraft maintenance engineering covers three main areas, Hinchey says. These are: the mechanical section, which is the engines and airframes and the associated systems; the structures section, which is the metal work and composite materials such as Kevlar and fibreglass and avionics, which involves all the electrical instruments and navigation aids.
About 500 students each year pass through the ranks under Hinchey's guidance at Padstow. He says students have great employment opportunities with domestic and international airlines, general aviation and also the defence force.
How to be ... an aircraft maintenence engineer instructor
You need to complete a trade in your area of teaching and have a minimum of five years work experience. A diploma in teaching can also help.
More information, TAFE NSW 131 601 or http://www.tafensw.edu.au