By law only Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified technicians are allowed to work on aircraft, so most airframe and powerplant technology programs are designed to prepare students to obtain FAA A&P certification. Classroom instruction covers concepts in electrical circuits, hydraulics and aerodynamics; training in drafting skills and blueprint reading are commonly included. Classroom training in theory is supplemented with practical training that develops skills using specialized tools and test equipment. Students also learn about FAA-required protocols in record keeping and administrative functions. Programs generally take approximately two years to complete.
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Associate in Airframe and Powerplant Technology Overview
Admissions requirements typically include a high school diploma or GED. Some programs may require passing entrance exams. They may also require students to purchase related tools upon admission. English reading, writing and speaking proficiency is generally required since these are part of FAA certification requirements. Programs typically combine A&P subjects with broad academic coursework, like English and mathematics.
Coursework that prepares graduates to work on aircraft parts like - wings, fuselage, electrical circuits, fuel systems, landing gear and oxygen systems - can include:
- Engine systems
- Aviation materials
- Fire protection systems
Popular Career Options
Programs provide graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to find employment at airlines, executive aircraft servicers and aircraft manufacturers. Possible careers include:
- A&P technician
- Aircraft mechanic
- Aircraft restorer
- Aircraft technical writer
- Maintenance supervisor
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that in May 2015, the mean annual wage for all aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $60,160. According to BLS projections, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics should experience an employment growth rate of little to none from 2014 to 2024. The BLS notes that mechanics with A&P certification are likely to be in particular demand.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Prospective FAA-certified mechanics must pass practical and oral tests, administered by an FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner. In order to become a certified mechanic, applicants must also pass a written examination, which is administered at an approved computer-testing location. Credentials remain valid for a 2-year period; credential renewal requires a specific amount of training hours or work experience within the past 24 months.
Bachelor's degree programs are available in aviation maintenance technology and related fields, such as aerospace administration and operations. These may prepare graduates for management positions in the industry. Some programs may apply previous education and work experience towards degree requirements.
Graduates of an associate degree program in airframe and powerplant technology are eligible for employment as aircraft mechanics, maintenance supervisors and A&P technicians. Students must pass written and practical examinations given by the FAA to receive their A&P certification.