|Degree Level||Associate degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Associate of Occupational Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology, Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology, and Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance|
|Licensure/Certification||FAA certification required|
|Experience||Training under FAA certified mechanic or through the Armed Services|
|Key Skills||Manual dexterity and attention to detail; physical fitness and stamina; specialized aviation and power tools, computers, diagnostic equipment, and x-ray machines; at least 18 years old; proficient in English|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||No change|
|Median Annual Salary (2016)||$62,620|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com
An aircraft maintenance engineer keeps aircraft in working order through maintenance, repairs and inspections. The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, regulates mechanical work on aircraft, and individuals entering this field must meet specific training and certification requirements. Aircraft maintenance engineers must be prepared to carefully follow FAA regulations and work long hours on emergency repairs.
An aircraft maintenance engineer is responsible for ensuring an aircraft operates properly and safely. A maintenance engineer may make repairs, troubleshoot problems, conduct inspections and make upgrades to aircrafts. Daily duties may include keeping records of and performing scheduled maintenance, making emergency repairs, or preparing for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspections.
An aircraft maintenance engineer works with specialized aviation and power tools, computers, diagnostic equipment and x-ray machines. While working, he or she may climb ladders or stand on scaffolds, manage other maintenance staff or spend long hours on emergency repairs. Maintenance engineers must carefully observe all FAA rules and regulations when performing any job duty.
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Hiring requirements for aircraft maintenance engineers are set by the FAA. Candidates who are U.S. citizens must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be proficient in the English language
- Have practical experience working with power plants or airframes or graduate from a FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School
- Pass written, oral and practical tests
Candidates who are not citizens of the U.S. must meet all requirements for a citizen, plus:
- Show a need for a mechanic certificate
- Provide a valid passport
- Provide a statement from an employer stating types of maintenance duties handled and amount of time on the job
- Provide a letter from a foreign airworthiness authority or International Civil Aviation Organization that validates his or her experience
- Pay a document review fee
Certification & Education
The FAA also requires that any work done to an aircraft must be done by or under the direct supervisor of a certified mechanic. FAA certification is available for power plant mechanics and airframe mechanics. FAA-approved degrees include the Associate of Occupational Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology, Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology, and Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance.
Most associate degree programs take about two years to complete and cover topics that prepare students to pass the required FAA tests. Another training option for active duty and reserve soldiers is to pursue training as an aircraft maintenance engineer or avionic mechanic through a program offered by the United States Army.
Employment & Salary
As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians can expect little to no change in job opportunities between 2014 and 2024. According to payscale.com, in May 2016 aircraft maintenance engineers earned a median annual salary of $62,620.
If you're still thinking about becoming an aircraft maintenance engineer, you'll need to meet the hiring requirements for aircraft maintenance engineers set by the FAA. Once employed, you'll earn a median annual salary of $62,620, as reported by payscale.com in May 2016.