Airplane technicians maintain, repair and inspect planes for airlines, manufacturers, private companies, and government. They must complete a Federal Aviation Administration-accredited training program and earn certification from the FAA.
An airplane technician is responsible for maintaining, repairing and inspecting aircraft to make sure that planes meet federal guidelines and are fit to fly. Also called aviation maintenance or airframe technicians, airplane technicians focus mostly on preventative maintenance. Becoming an airplane technician typically requires FAA certification.
|Required Education||FAA accredited training program (often a 2- or 4-year degree program)|
|Other Requirements||FAA certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*||3% for aircraft mechanics and service technicians|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$62,920 for aircraft mechanics and service technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education Requirements to Become an Airplane Technician
An individual wishing to become a certified airplane technician can enroll in a training program that has been accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Many colleges or universities offer 2- or 4-year degree programs in aviation technology that meet the agency's academic requirements for certification.
Coursework in many aviation technology programs covers aircraft engines, fuel systems, electrical systems, welding and aircraft inspection. Students may also be required to take courses in math, physics and FAA regulations.
Generally, airplane technicians must receive certification from the FAA before working on civilian planes (www.faa.gov). Certification provides an airplane technician with the necessary authority to make inspections on planes and approve them for takeoff. Typically, a certified airplane technician must have at least 18 months of work experience in the field to qualify for the FAA credential.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the majority of airplane technicians worked in the air transportation industry, while others could be found in manufacturing, private companies or working for the federal government (www.bls.gov). Most of these jobs were located in large metropolitan airports or on military bases.
Job opportunities were expected to increase by 3% between 2018 and 2028 according to the BLS. This increase was due in part to an overall increase in passenger air travel. Most opportunities were expected at small regional and community airports, although these positions traditionally pay less than jobs at large metro airports.
In 2018, the median salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $62,920. The BLS reported that manufacturing and the federal government paid an average salary of $65,120 and $60,860, respectively. Technicians who attended aviation technology programs typically earned higher starting wages than those who did not earn a degree.
Advancement opportunities for airplane technicians are usually based on examinations that demonstrate skills and knowledge in aviation maintenance procedures. Airplane technicians can advance to supervisory positions, like FAA inspectors, or may continue their educations and become aviation, electrical or communications engineers.
Careers as an airplane technician require FAA certification. Certification includes completing an approved training program and having the required experience in the field. Job growth is projected to be slow in this field, and the median salary is about $63,000.