Aircraft Mechanic Degree Programs with Course Information
Learn about associate's and bachelor's degree programs in aviation maintenance. Find out about FAA certification requirements for aircraft mechanics, as well as the employment outlook for these workers.
Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in aircraft mechanics, also called aviation maintenance technology, prepare students for careers as aviation maintenance technicians. These programs include classroom and hands-on instruction in inspecting, repairing and maintaining aircraft. Bachelor's degree programs also include courses in business. Admission requirements for these programs may include a high school diploma and prior education in mathematics and computer science. Students who successfully complete programs approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are eligible for certification in airframe and powerplant maintenance.
Associate's Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
An associate's degree program in aviation maintenance technology incorporates general education courses with technical training in the field of aircraft maintenance. Students learn the skills necessary to maintain and repair aircraft structures and mechanical systems. While most programs provide training in both structural (airframe) and engine systems (powerplant), some programs specialize in one or the other.
Previous coursework in physics and a general knowledge of electronics is helpful. Some programs request previous coursework in math and computers. A high school diploma or equivalent is required.
The curriculum covers the skills and theories necessary to earn FAA airframe and powerplant maintenance certification. Courses cover a wide variety of topics including:
- FAA regulations
- Aircraft electrical systems
- Materials science
- Gas turbine and piston powerplants
- Airframe systems
- Aircraft Structure
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment for aircraft mechanics and service technicians is expected to grow at only 6% during 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Jobs will still be available due to the need to replace retiring mechanics and the low number of individuals entering this occupation. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $55,210 in 2012 for these workers.
Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Similar to an associate's degree program, a bachelor's degree program in aviation maintenance technology provides technical training in aircraft maintenance along with general education. In addition, many programs incorporate management or business courses into the curriculum to prepare graduates for leadership roles in the aviation maintenance industry.
This degree programs is available to students with a high school diploma or equivalent. Previous coursework in areas such as physics, electronics, math and computer technology is helpful.
Students learn the necessary skills for FAA certification. The curriculum also covers theory and business-related issues. Course topics include:
- FAA regulations and documentation
- Electrical systems
- Airframe maintenance practices
- Fuel, air and exhaust systems
- Propeller systems
- Engine maintenance and repair
- Management principles
Popular Career Options
Students are prepared for careers repairing and maintaining aircraft for major airlines, commuter airlines, aircraft manufacturers and the FAA. According to the BLS, job opportunities may be best with small commuter and regional airlines. A bachelor's degree may enable graduates to secure management-level positions. Career options include:
- Airframe maintenance technician
- Powerplant maintenance technician
- Aircraft mechanic
- Maintenance supervisor
- Aviation safety inspector
- Accident investigator
Certification and Continuing Education
The FAA requires certification for aircraft mechanics. Mechanics can receive certification in airframe maintenance, powerplant maintenance or both. Applicants must pass a written, oral and practical exam in each area. Continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification. Aircraft mechanics must complete 16 hours of training every two years to keep current.
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