The coursework of certificate and 2-year associate's degree aviation maintenance technology programs is designed to provide students with technical aircraft maintenance skills and to prepare them for FAA airframe and powerplant certification exams. Bachelor's programs allow more time for students to hone their inspection and assembly skills. Students could also choose concentration areas at this level.
Prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma or GED.
Certificate Programs in Aircraft Maintenance
Certificate programs in aircraft maintenance offer combined or individual certificates in airframe, general and powerplant maintenance. After completing these certificates, students may take the FAA certification exams.
Course work in airframe maintenance studies aircraft structures and various internal systems. Powerplant maintenance familiarizes students with aircraft electrical and engine systems, and general aircraft maintenance coursework explores the field of aviation. Common topics of study include:
- Airframe inspection of wood, sheet metal and non-metallic structures
- Pneumatic, hydraulic and landing gear systems
- Ignition, lubrication and powerplant fuel systems
- Engine installation and inspection
- Aircraft materials and control of corrosion
- Aircraft electricity, fluid lines and fittings
Associate Degree in Aircraft Maintenance Technology
Like the certificate programs, associate degree programs provide the proper education for taking FAA certification exams. Associate degree programs typically take two years to complete and coursework covers technical skills in airframe, powerplant maintenance and aircraft assembly. Topics of study may include:
- Aircraft electrical and wiring system
- Trigonometry, algebra and geometry
- Aircraft welding
- Landing gear
- Aircraft assembly
Bachelor's Degree in Aircraft Maintenance Technology
Bachelor's degree programs in aircraft maintenance technology offer Bachelor of Science degrees that give students a competitive advantage in the aircraft maintenance industry. Bachelor's degree programs further develop aircraft maintenance skills and provide interdisciplinary concentration in other areas of aviation technology, such as maintenance management, piloting and information technology. Programs may require an associate degree or previous work experience in A&P maintenance before the student applies.
Bachelor's degree programs in aircraft maintenance technology teach the technical skills, theory and science involved in aviation technology. Students take courses in:
- Avionics system maintenance and integration
- Aircraft engine inspection
- Information technology
- Chemistry, psychology, physics
Popular Career Options
Certified airframe and powerplant (A&P) technicians find jobs with major and regional airlines, government agencies and aircraft manufacturers. Most aircraft maintenance technicians are FAA certified A&P technicians and may eventually find positions such as:
- Aircraft repairer
- Engine servicer
- Aircraft business owner
- Lead service technician
- Authorized aircraft inspector
Students who receive associate's degrees may work as aviation technicians and advance to supervising and management positions with the FAA, major airlines or aircraft manufacturers. Commercial piloting, performance testing, repair management and maintenance engineering are also possible occupations. Further formal study in aerospace electronics and information technology may yield wider job opportunities in aerospace and aviation fields.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job growth for aircraft mechanics and service technicians is expected to see little to no change during the 2014-2024 decade. The BLS also reported the national median annual salary for these workers was $58,370 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
In order to apply for an airframe, powerplant or combined A&P certificate exam, mechanics must either complete a training program or have several months of supervised work experience. Once attained, certification must be kept current over time, and continuing education and refresher courses are offered through various aviation organizations. Aspiring technicians may also seek associate and bachelor's degree programs, which may open more job opportunities.
Graduates of aircraft maintenance certificate and degree programs can pursue employment with government agencies, airlines and aircraft manufacturers, although bachelor's degrees provide an advantage for employment. Technicians and mechanics in the industry must be certified by the FAA before working professionally.