Airplane Technician: Career Profile

Sep 15, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an airplane technician. Get an overview of the requirements - including education requirements and job duties - to find out if this is the right career for you.

Airplane technicians make sure aircraft operate at optimal status. They train through certificate, diploma or degree programs and must meet FAA certification standards.

Essential Information

'Airplane technician' is a job title that can refer to avionics technicians, airplane mechanics or service technicians. Most of these workers obtain job training through FAA-certified vocational programs. Learning options include earning an undergraduate certificate, a diploma or an associate degree. Airplane mechanics and service technicians may also receive on-the-job training.

Career Title Airplane Mechanic and Service Technician Avionics Technician
Required Education Certificate or diploma; associate degrees are available but not typically required for entry-level jobs Associate degree commonly required, though certificate and diploma programs can also be pursued
Other Requirements Certificate of completion from Part 147 FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School Certificate of completion from Part 147 FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% 3%
Average Salary (2018)* $62,920 $64,140

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Technicians working in the airplane and avionics field maintain the structural integrity of aircrafts and make repairs on engines, electrical mechanisms and other essential components. These professionals often work outdoors in loud environments. Read on to learn about specific careers in this field.

Aircraft Mechanic and Service Technician

Information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that aircraft mechanics and service technicians inspect the physical structure of aircrafts, perform needed repairs and run routine maintenance checks (www.bls.gov). Most mechanics and service technicians spend their time on precautionary inspection tasks, which include examining all aircraft systems prior to aircraft operations.

Workers run multiple spot-inspections on engines, landing gear, fluid receptacles, brake lines and other vital components. They maintain detailed logs concerning everything examined and repaired on an aircraft. According to guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), mechanics and service technicians must completely replace certain engine parts and aircraft components after an aircraft logs a set amount of flight hours.

Individuals often specialize as either airframe mechanics or powerplant mechanics. Airframe mechanics focus specifically on maintaining and repairing the physical structure of the craft. In contrast, powerplant mechanics work on the engines and some of the instrumentation. Mechanics who specialize in both fields are referred to as A&P mechanics.

Educational requirements for airplane mechanics usually include completing a diploma or certificate program related to aviation maintenance or aviation mechanic technologies. Undergraduate degree programs are also available in these fields, but most entry-level positions don't require formal degrees. Coursework in these programs include forms and regulations, hydraulics, engine maintenance, fuel systems, welding, power plant systems and airframe systems.

In May 2018, aircraft mechanics and technicians earned an average annual salary of $62,920. The BLS predicted 3% job growth for both avionics technicians and aircraft mechanics and service technicians from 2018-2028.

Avionics Technician

According to O*NET Online, avionics technicians monitor and maintain the electronic components on aircrafts (www.onetonline.org). Normally working under the supervision of an aircraft mechanic or engineer, technicians use diagnostic equipment to check electrical wiring, circuit boards, lights and other computerized mechanisms. Technicians also maintain service logs that document how often each electrical component has been repaired or replaced.

After running routine checks, avionics technicians make decisions on how to repair components. Sometimes they have to completely assemble electrical mechanisms before installation, which can include using power tools and soldering equipment. If a repair will interfere with a scheduled flight, avionics technicians must inform the proper personnel in order to reschedule or cancel the flight.

Avionics technicians and other service technicians often acquire educational training through a vocational certificate, associate's degree or diploma program related to avionics maintenance and technology. Coursework topics include analog devices and circuits, navigation systems, wiring techniques, communications systems, line maintenance, avionics troubleshooting and basic safety protocols.

In 2018, avionics technicians earned a median salary of $64,140. The BLS predicted no job growth for avionics technicians from 2018-2028.

Airplane technicians can work as avionics technicians, airplane mechanics or service technicians. Mechanics and service technicians typically train through certificate or diploma programs, while avionics technicians generally complete associate's degree programs. Jobs in these fields are expected to show little or no growth through 2024, and median salaries were in the low $60,000s as of 2015.

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