A&P mechanics must be licensed by the FAA, and this requires completing an approved training program as well as passing competency examinations. Each program, from the certificate level through the bachelor's degree program, becomes more comprehensive regarding the scope of study. Associate's degrees have some general education coursework as does a bachelor's degree program. Applicants for any program must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Certificate programs typically take 18-24 months to complete, an associate's degree is generally a 2 year program and a bachelor's degree is a 4 year program.
Certificate in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Students prepare for entry-level jobs in aviation maintenance through the study of hydraulics, electricity and powerplant systems. The techniques and theories taught in aviation maintenance are applicable in facilities maintenance, heavy equipment maintenance and powerplants. Training covers everything from basic aircraft terminology to welding. Students delve into the basic techniques for keeping airplanes flying and functional. Topics of study include:
- A.C. and D.C. electricity
- Mechanical drafting
- Navigation systems
- Reciprocating engine maintenance
- Rigging and turbines
Associate Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Associate degree programs prepare students for FAA certification. Students gain classroom and practical knowledge in airframes, aircraft structures and regulations. The programs incorporate real-world experiences and hands-on training through laboratories. In addition to general education requirements, future A&P mechanics learn to test, inspect, repair and alter aircraft systems. Topics studied include:
- Inspection systems
- Reciprocating engines
- Technical writing
- Turbine engine
Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Bachelor's degree tracks train students to rebuild an engine, understand how a piston engine works and weld metallic structures. Additionally, students receive broad training in technical, business and electronics topics. Undergraduate students learn to design and repair mechanical parts of aircrafts, keeping reliability and documentation processes in mind. Coursework includes:
- Aircraft systems
- Airframe maintenance
- Electrical systems
- Exhaust systems
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of aircraft and avionics mechanics and technicians was expected to increase 1% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The projected employment growth was slower than the national job growth at large. As of May 2015, BLS data stated the mean annual wage of aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $60,160.
Professionals find work in air transportation support services, aerospace product manufacturing, the federal government and nonscheduled air transportation. With experience, workers move up to the following positions:
- Aircraft mechanic
- Airframe mechanic
- Powerplant mechanic
- Accident investigator
- Aircraft maintenance supervisor
- Aviation safety inspector
Airframe and powerplant mechanics must obtain certification through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prior to beginning work. This requires completing an FAA-accredited program, as well as taking and passing three examinations.
Training programs for A&P mechanics teaches students about the different systems involved in aviation maintenance and prepares students to obtain certification from the FAA. More advanced programs at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels include general education courses, business and technical courses.