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Career Definition for an Avionics Mechanic
Avionic techs and avionics mechanics are primarily responsible for the maintenance of an aircraft's avionics equipment, which is used for communication and navigation. This includes radar, flight computers and global positioning systems. Avionic techs and mechanics install, inspect and repair aircraft electrical systems. They also must understand complex aviation instruments to ensure they are functioning properly.
Avionic mechanics work closely with aerospace engineers on the development of new technology and the installation of electronic equipment in new aircraft designs. Other job duties include the troubleshooting of instruments using industry-specific tools such as oscilloscopes, voltmeters and circuit testers; the interpretation of data communicated by test flights in order to identify malfunctions and other systemic performance issues; and the assembly of electrical components within assemblies and larger aircraft systems.
|Required Education||Associate or bachelor's degrees in avionics technology available|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of FAA and FCC regulations, detail orientation, analytical skills, agility|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$62,650 for avionics technicians|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||6% for avionics technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Although not all avionics mechanics hold awards, the best job opportunities should be available to avionics mechanics and techs with an associate or bachelor's degree in avionics technology. These programs typically take 2-4 years to complete and may include courses in physics, analog circuits and computer science. For those interested in finding opportunities without earning a degree, the completion of training programs through a vocational school or community college often qualifies individuals to secure an apprenticeship. On-the-job training, apprenticeships and/or internships are required to earn the experience necessary to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Avionics mechanics and techs must earn their FAA mechanics certification before they can work on aircraft. Students are encouraged to choose a training program approved by the FAA. In order to qualify for certification, mechanics must be at least 18 years old, speak fluent English and have at minimum 30 months of experience. The certification examination process includes written, oral and practical exams.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that avionics mechanics and techs must have these listed traits:
- Technical and analytical skills to troubleshoot problems with electrical and communications systems in aircraft
- Detail-oriented personality in order to calibrate systems accurately
- Knowledge about FAA and FCC regulations to ensure aircraft compliance
- Agility, since they must be able to access many parts of the planes they work on and have no fear of heights to do so
- Manual dexterity and physical strength are advantageous
Employment and Salary Outlook
Many avionics mechanics and techs are expected to retire in the coming years. However, much of the labor required for electrical systems in aircraft was expected to be outsourced, resulting in an average job growth rate of 6% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS. The organization reported that the annual median salary for avionics technicians was $62,650 in May 2017. Job prospects were expected to be better for those mechanics holding an airframe and powerplant certificate and/or a bachelor's degree in aircraft maintenance. As with most industries, those individuals who keep their training current with the most updated technology should fare better in the job market.