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Commercial Aircraft Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Learn what commercial aircraft technicians do. See what kind of education and certification are required for employment. Get details about career prospects to see if this field is right for you.

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Career Description of a Commercial Aircraft Technician

Commercial aircraft technicians inspect aircraft and perform routine maintenance to make sure parts are in perfect working order, as well as perform repairs as needed and keep track of all maintenance and repairs they complete. Technicians may use precision measuring equipment, magnetic inspection instruments, x-rays, and hand tools to diagnose and correct worn parts. Airlines and airfreight services employ commercial aircraft technicians.

Education Associate degree or certificate in aviation maintenance technology, followed by professional certification
Job Skills Keen attention to detail, problem solving skills, and manual dexterity
Average Salary (2015)* $60,160 (all aircraft mechanics and service technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 1% (all aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Aspiring commercial aircraft technicians typically complete Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved programs, resulting in either an associate's degree or a certificate in aviation maintenance technology, before taking a certification exam. Programs offer relevant courses in mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, and electronics. Some aspiring commercial aircraft technicians opt to gain on-the-job training before taking their certification exams, although completion of a certificate or an associate's degree program may be preferred by some employers.

Required Certification

Commercial aircraft technicians must be certified by the FAA, which requires either 30 months of work experience or completion of an FAA-approved formal training program, as well as passage of several exams. Applicants must be 18 or older and fluent in English. The Airframe and Powerplant credential is preferred by employers.

Skills Required

Commercial aircraft technicians must be able to pay close attention to detail, perform repetitive tasks, and solve problems independently. They also need dexterity when assembling and maintaining parts, and should be able to operate complex machinery.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts that the number of jobs for all aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians will increase only slightly between 2014-2024, with employment growth of about 1%; this is partly because maintenance on aircraft will increasingly become more outsourced. Aircraft mechanics and service technicians earned an average yearly salary of $60,160, according to the BLS in May 2015.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician

These technicians work closely with aerospace engineers to design, set up, and carry out computer simulations and physical tests on aircraft parts in development. Employers may prefer candidates with an associate's degree in engineering technology. Depending on the employer or the project, U.S. citizenship or eligibility for security clearance may be required. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians can also earn FAA certification. Employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow 4%, slower than the average growth, from 2014-2024, per the BLS. Jobs in this field paid an average salary of $68,620 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic

In this job, mechanics keep cars and light trucks in good working order. They inspect engines for problems, replacing or repairing parts as needed. They conduct common maintenance work, like oil changes and tire rotation. Auto mechanics are also responsible for the electronic systems commonly used in these vehicles. Employers typically prefer candidates who have completed postsecondary education in the field, up to an associate's degree; on-the-job training is still required. Working auto mechanics must earn professional certification; those who work with refrigerants may also be subject to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. The BLS reports that jobs will increase 5% from 2014-2024, and that auto service technicians and mechanics earned an average salary of $40,720 in 2015. Auto mechanics are often paid an hourly rate, and those with experience may also earn commission, depending on the employer.

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