Career Definition for an Aircraft Technician
Aircraft technicians maintain and repair all types of aircraft, including planes, helicopters, blimps and balloons. Job duties include the diagnosis of electrical and mechanical issues, the replacement of defective and worn parts, and the inspection of aircraft on a maintenance schedule in order to prevent problems before they happen. In addition to traditional tasks, some technicians conduct testing on a plane's communication and diagnostic systems or work specifically on electrical systems. Many also choose to work on one specific part of a plane, such as the engine, structure or frame.
|Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Job Skills||Communication, detail oriented, mathematics, mechanical skill|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$61,020 (all aircraft mechanics and service technicians)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||5% (all aircraft mechanics and service technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Aircraft technicians can earn certificates in aircraft technology, aircraft mechanics, aviation mechanics or aviation science. Some programs offer degrees such as an Associate of Applied Science in Airframe and Aircraft Powerplant Maintenance Technology, an Associate of Occupational Science in Aircraft Maintenance Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technology or a Master in Aviation Science. Aircraft trade schools offer programs that may be completed in 18-24 months; in addition to formal education, most positions require on-the-job, supervised training.
In order to work in this field, prospective aircraft technicians must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In order to obtain a license, candidates must be at least 18 years old, speak fluent English and have a minimum of 30 months of experience working on air frames and engines. The completion of a formal education training program approved by the FAA may substitute for the experience requirement. Candidates must successfully pass written, oral and practical examinations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that aircraft technicians must possess the qualities listed below:
- Adept understanding of mechanics and how various parts of machinery interact with each other
- Detail-oriented personality and troubleshooting skills
- Strong background in math and technical writing
- Communication skills, including writing and speaking, since aircraft technicians often work in teams and must keep thorough records of all repairs and maintenance done on an aircraft
Employment and Salary Outlook
The BLS reported that from 2016-2026, employment prospects were expected to grow about 5% for aircraft mechanics and service technicians. Outsourcing to other nations has resulted in a dramatic decline in the industry. In May 2017, the median yearly salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $61,020, according to the BLS.