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Airplane Mechanic: Career Profile

Airplane mechanics require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Airplane mechanics have the quintessential job of ensuring that an aircraft is running at its most efficient. This means checking, repairing and overseeing nearly all mechanical related facets of a working aircraft.

Essential Information

Airplane mechanics repair the airframes, engines and propellers of aircraft to maintain optimal performance. Aspiring airplane mechanics can find several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved schools that offer mechanic training; others enter this career field through on-the-job training or previous military experience. Those working in the U.S. require FAA certification to work on public aviation equipment and planes. There are several kinds of certification available, and certification generally requires a combination of education, experience and testing.

Required Education High school diploma; bachelor's degree for advancement
Certification Voluntary airframe and powerplant (A&P) certifications
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% for aircraft mechanics and service technicians
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $60,160 for aircraft mechanics and service technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Profile of an Airplane Mechanic

Skilled mechanics who are trained to work on airplanes are commonly called aviation mechanics or aviation maintenance technicians. To work in the field, individuals must either complete an academic training program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), work a specific number of hours in airplane maintenance or perform a combination of the two in order to qualify for FAA certification. Depending on the credentials earned, an airplane mechanic can work on airframe maintenance, airplane power systems or both (www.faa.gov).

Types of FAA Certification

An aspiring airplane mechanic can obtain a repairman certification from the FAA to perform specific maintenance or repair functions, usually under the supervision of a fully certified aviation mechanic. After completing a specified number of hours in this type of work, mechanics can qualify to take an exam to earn certification in airframe maintenance. Additionally, with experience and training in engines and power systems, a mechanic can also qualify to take the exam in powerplant repair. After earning both credentials and taking a third FAA exam, mechanics can also perform airplane inspections.

Job Growth and Outlook Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 1% increase in jobs for airplane mechanics and service technicians between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). With the increase in air travel, mechanics will be necessary to ensure airplanes function correctly and provide a safe mode of transportation. However, the outsourcing of aviation mechanic jobs could temper growth.

As of 2015, the main employers of airplane mechanics included airlines, transportation support services and airplane manufacturers, according to the BLS. Other companies that employ these workers include courier services and federal agencies.

Salary Information

The BLS reported that the national mean annual salary for airplane mechanics and service technicians was $60,160 in 2015. States with the highest-paid workers were Kentucky, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland and Colorado, where average annual salaries were more than $82,000 per year. The highest-paying employers included semiconductor manufacturers and courier services.

As an aircraft mechanic you'll face many challenges but if you enjoy working on aircrafts, solving mechanical problems and have an astute observational mind then this may just be the ideal career for you.

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