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Become an Aeronautics Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an aeronautics technician. Research the education, training, and licensing information and the experience required for starting a career in aeronautics technology. View article »

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  • 0:00 Become an Aeronautics…
  • 1:14 Complete High School
  • 1:35 Complete a Certificate Program
  • 2:16 Acquire an Entry-Level Job
  • 3:36 Earn Certification
  • 4:42 Earn an Associate's Degree

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Video Transcript

Become an Aeronautics Technician

Aeronautics technicians, sometimes called aerospace, aircraft or avionics equipment mechanics or technicians, are experts in the repair and maintenance of airplanes and helicopters. Aeronautic technicians' roles include rigorous inspections of aircrafts as specified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These technicians usually work on a full-time basis in manufacturing and industrial plants as well as laboratory and office settings. The job carries some risk for injury, because working as an aeronautics technician requires dangerous tools, heights, the lifting of heavy objects, and interaction with chemicals. Work environments include hangars, some of which are climate-controlled.

Degree Level Postsecondary certificate or diploma program minimum education needed; associate's degree preferred
Degree Field Aerospace engineering, aeronautics studies, aviation maintenance technology or related fields
Training 13 to 17 months of training for some certificate and associate's degree programs
Certification Voluntary certification available
Key Skills Detail oriented, and have mechanical, critical-thinking, math, interpersonal, and communication skills
Salary (2015) $58,390 per year (median annual salary for all aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aeronautics Programs

Let's find out how you can become an aeronautics technician.

Complete High School

Step 1: Complete High School

Before enrolling in an aeronautical school, individuals must earn a high school diploma or GED. While in high school, students might want to gain proficiency in math and physics. Electives, like computer science and mechanical drawing, should also be taken in preparation for aeronautics training.

Compete a Certificate Program

Step 2: Enroll in an Aeronautics Certificate Program

Aeronautic maintenance training programs usually take 13 to 15 months to complete and generally lead to a diploma or certificate, such as the Airframe and Powerplant Certificate. Technicians must pass aeronautics examinations specified by the FAA to earn this certificate. Most aeronautics schools guide their students in preparing for and taking these examinations.

Success tip:

Ensure that your aeronautics maintenance program is FAA-approved. The FAA offers a list of approved programs on its website at www.faa.gov.

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Acquire an Entry-Level Job

Step 3: Acquire an Entry-Level Aeronautics Technician Job

In many cases, work experience requirement for aeronautics technicians can be fulfilled through qualifying military experience or by completing an FAA-approved technician education program. Technicians can get job placement information from their schools. Many employers who hire aeronautics mechanics promote individuals from within. To start this career, technicians should apply for aeronautics or aviation mechanic level I positions and work their way up to higher levels.

Success Tips:

First, consider joining a union. Technicians can join a union, such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers or the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. Labor unions like these exist to advocate on behalf of technicians for improvements in working conditions and compensation and to enable their members to meet industry standards for skills and knowledge.

Also, join a professional organization. Aeronautics technicians can stay current on changes in their field by joining a professional organization. Members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics pay yearly dues for access to such benefits as networking opportunities and career resources.

Earn Certification

Step 4: Earn Certification

Although certification is not required to work as an aeronautics technician, becoming certified shows employers competency in the theoretical and technical aspects of the job. The FAA offers Airmen Certification for aircraft mechanics and repairmen. Technicians who obtain this designation are required to keep a copy of their knowledge test report.

Success Tips:

First, download the Aviation Maintenance Technician Handbook. The FAA publishes handbooks and manuals to prepare individuals for certifications in the field of aviation. The manual, designed for aspiring aviation technicians or aeronautics technicians can be downloaded through the FAA website.

And, second, visit the FAA site for up-to-date certification requirements. Visiting the FAA site frequently is the best way to get the most current information that aeronautics technicians need. Look specifically for testing requirements, practice tests (if available), video courses, and other information to stay well-informed about the industry.

Earn an Associate's Degree

Step 5: Earn an Associate's Degree

Employers often prefer to hire aeronautics technicians who have an associate's degree. Relevant programs of study include engineering technology, aerospace engineering, aeronautics studies and aviation maintenance technology. Individuals who complete an associate's degree program are likely to receive more training on advanced technologies used in building and repairing of aircraft.

To recap, an aeronautics technician typically needs to complete a certificate or diploma program before gaining experience in the field. Voluntary certification and an associate's degree could lead to more and better job opportunities.

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