Most aspiring aeronautical technicians must earn a degree in aeronautical technology or a related technological field. Such a degree program prepares them to gain jobs repairing, maintaining, and even building airplanes and aircraft. An aeronautical technician must have a strong understanding of the inner workings of aircraft systems in order to manufacture, maintain, and test aircraft equipment such as landing gear, engines, instruments, pressurized systems, and more.
Associate's degree programs in aeronautical technology vary, but take 2 years to complete. Some are open to any student who holds a high school diploma or an equivalent GED, others are designed only for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified individuals who have real experience in the field and are looking to boost their education with a degree program. Fieldwork is a typical program requirement for an associate's degree program.
Associate's Degree of Applied Science in Aeronautical Technology
Most aeronautical technology courses are practical and hands-on in nature, although several involve basic math and sciences as well. Students learn how to apply mathematical and engineering theories and concepts to actual maintenance projects on aircraft. Students study physics, aeronautical design and applications and basic aviation. After graduation, most technicians go on to become certified by the FAA. Some examples include:
- Basic aviation science
- Electricity for aviation
- Airframe structure and repair
- Applied mathematics
- Industrial first aid and safety
Continuing Education and Certification Information
The FAA offers certification for airframe mechanics, powerplant mechanics and those who specialize in both areas (A&P). Although certification is not required to work as an aeronautical technician, it increases employment prospects, and most technicians pursue the credential. A combination of training and work experience make candidates eligible to sit for the certification exams, which have oral, written and hands-on components.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
In 2014, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians held 137,300 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The majority of these worked in aerospace products and parts manufacturing. The job growth rate for all aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians, including aeronautical technicians, is expected to have little to no change between 2014 and 2024. Many aeronautical technicians are paid by the hour, and in May 2015, the median wage was $28.06, reported the BLS.
Prospective students now have a firm grasp of common coursework and program requirements for an A.A.S. in Aeronautical Technology. After graduation, students may elect to pursue an FAA certification and enter a job field that is not expected to grow over the next decade.