Aircraft maintenance technicians perform a variety of duties that include installing and removing aircraft components, conducting repairs, and performing routine inspections. Some 170 schools offer programs approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Voluntary licensure may provide a competitive edge in a field forecast to experience little to no employment growth over the next several years.
Aircraft maintenance technicians perform inspections and repairs on aircraft engines and airframes. They also service electrical and hydraulic parts, such as starters, fuel pumps and generators. While some aircraft maintenance technicians learn on the job, many train at an FAA-approved school.
|Required Education||High school diploma and on-the-job training or FAA-approved training program|
|Other Requirements||Optional licensure or certification|
|Projected Job Growth*||1% for all aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians between 2014 and 2024|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$58,370 for all aircraft mechanics and service technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salary Info for Aircraft Maintenance Technicians
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aircraft mechanics and service technicians earned a median annual wage of $58,370 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Earnings are affected by whether or not maintenance techs work for a major airline, as well as the type of training received. Graduating from an approved school tends to earn techs a higher starting salary than other means of training, such as learning on the job or through military service.
Aircraft Maintenance Tech Duties
Aircraft maintenance technicians are trained to adjust aircraft engines and pneumatic systems, remove and install aircraft components and diagnose problems. Some of their duties include checking electrical systems, repairing pilot static systems and performing regular preventive inspections. Technicians examine aircraft fuselage (the aircraft's main body) and landing gear for cracks or leakage. They repair or replace defective aircraft parts and check completed work to ensure that it meets quality standards.
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Requirements for Aircraft Maintenance Techs
According to the BLS, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved about 170 schools to prepare aviation maintenance techs. These schools provide training in aviation maintenance, avionics and aviation technology. Students can enroll in associate's or bachelor's degree programs. Training programs typically include courses such as mechanical drawing, electronics, computer science, physics and mathematics. Trainees can often specialize in areas such as information technology, aerospace electronics or maintenance management.
Graduates from approved schools are eligible to take the certification examinations given by the FAA. Specific certifications include the airframe and powerplant (aircraft engine and propeller) mechanic certifications; a combination of the two is called an A&P certification. Applicants must have at least 30 months of experience working with both systems to apply for the combination A&P license. Testing consists of practical and oral tests given by an FAA examiner.
Due to advances in technology and the complexity of aircraft systems, it's necessary for aircraft maintenance technicians to take training courses throughout their careers. The ongoing training required to maintain certification ensures that technicians' knowledge remains up-to-date.
Aircraft maintenance technicians can complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program accredited by the FAA. They can then seek FAA certification. Certification includes completing an accredited program, work experience, and passing examinations.