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.
Similar to the associate's programs, the bachelor's programs in provide 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.
Prerequisites for these programs include possession of a high school diploma or equivalent, and previous experience in math, computer technology, or physics. Students who successfully complete programs approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are eligible for professional certification in airframe and powerplant maintenance.
Associate's Degree Programs in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Associate's level courses cover a wide variety of topics including:
- FAA regulations
- Aircraft electrical systems
- Materials science
- Gas turbine and piston powerplants
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Bachelor's 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
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
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment for aircraft mechanics and service technicians is expected to grow by 1% during 2014-2024, 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 mean annual salary of $60,160 in 2015 for these workers.
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.
After obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in aircraft mechanics, students will have a litany of potential careers to choose from. In addition to these degree programs, students will need to obtain professional certification from the FAA.