|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Aircraft technology, avionics, aviation maintenance|
|Certification||FAA certification required|
|Key Skills||Dexterity; detail-oriented; ability to troubleshoot and solve problems; understanding of engines, electrical systems, and technical instruments|
|Salary||$58,370 (2015 median annual wage for all aircraft mechanics)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); Monster.com (November 2012)
Aircraft mechanics are responsible for the maintenance and repair of aircraft parts and make inspections to ensure that airplanes and helicopters are compliant with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. In addition to inspecting for defective and worn parts, aircraft mechanics will need to diagnose electrical and mechanical problems, keep records, and perform routine maintenance. Corporations that hire aircraft mechanics may own private jets or lease out airplanes to businesses.
Aircraft mechanics may work on planes in an airfield, a hangar, or in repair stations, and are often required to do demanding physical work. Mechanics usually work full-time in 8-hour shifts that may include evenings and weekends. Those with seniority will generally have more access to daytime shifts, should they so choose. Aircraft mechanics are exposed to more risk of injury and toxic materials than many other occupations. Safety gear, policies, and procedures can minimize this risk.
Aircraft mechanics should have dexterity, a thorough understanding of engines, electrical system and technical instruments and the ability to troubleshoot and solve problems. Aircraft mechanics and service technicians working in the United States in 2015 earned a median annual salary of $58,370, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Many aircraft mechanics learn their trade by earning an associate's degree in aviation technology, aviation maintenance management, or avionics. Students in these programs will take classes in aviation science, aircraft engines, basic electricity, aviation fundamentals and aircraft structures. In order to obtain strong technical skills and mechanical aptitude, students will need an extensive background in electronics and computers.
Individuals can obtain experience through a degree program that facilitates internships. This would be an opportunity to work and learn in a professional environment and prepare for full-time employment in the field.
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Corporate aircraft mechanics must become FAA-certified in areas such as aircraft power plant and airframe mechanics. Satisfactory completion of written and practical examinations is required. Applicants must complete up to 30 months of work experience before certification will be given in both areas.
Because technology changes frequently, it's important for corporate aircraft mechanics to participate regularly in additional training courses. If a corporate aircraft mechanic hasn't worked the specified amount of hours in the prior two years, the FAA requires refresher or continuing education courses to be taken. Some courses may be taken through aircraft manufacturers.
Seek Corporate Employment
Corporate aircraft mechanics usually work on private, company-owned jets used by executives. They inspect landing gears, engines, brakes, pumps and other instrumentation. They will test engines for malfunctions, install electrical and plumbing systems and replace or repair aircraft parts as needed.
As corporate aircraft mechanics acquire experience, they may have the opportunity to move into a leadership or management position like lead mechanic, shop supervisor, or lead inspector. Mechanics with a broad enough range of experience may become inspectors for the FAA, or, with further education in business and management, open maintenance facilities of their own.
A wide variety of specialist certifications are available, which allow an aircraft mechanic to perform repairs and alterations on specialized systems and obtain more valuable experience. Mechanics that acquire an inspector's authorization (IA) typically have more opportunity for advancement.
To recap quickly, aspiring corporate aircraft mechanics should complete training or a degree in aviation technology or aviation maintenance before becoming certified, gaining work experience and finally looking for a position in a corporation.