Legally, aircraft mechanics must be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work in the United States or on U.S. aircraft. Because of this requirement, most avionics technicians who wish to work in this field find it necessary to seek an airframe certification or the more comprehensive airframe and powerplant certification offered by the FAA. One of the requirements for this airframe certification is that students graduate from an FAA-approved training program.
FAA-approved programs in aviation maintenance are fairly common, but according to documents available on its website, the FAA does not approve online avionics training programs unless they include in-class practice, usually hands-on mechanical or laboratory experience with aircraft parts (www.faa.gov). Therefore, fully online training isn't available for avionics technicians who will actually work on aircraft; only hybrid formats are offered.
A fully online educational alternative is a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, which only includes online coursework. It provides an overview of the aviation field as well as general education, so it can provide an educational foundation for on-campus training programs in the future.
Avionics Technician Training
Hybrid programs may include individual courses that require students to meet a specific number of days on campus for labs, avionics systems testing and projects, with an additional number of days dedicated to entirely online course time. Other hybrid programs allow students to complete some general education and avionics theory courses online.
List of Common Avionics Courses
Courses that could be taken online might include the following:
- Aviation Safety
- American History
A few colleges offer fully online bachelor's degree programs that have portions involving avionics, usually terminating in a degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance. These programs may be suitable for individuals already possessing an airframe and powerplant certificate and interested in earning a 4-year degree, which may be beneficial for career advancement purposes.
To summarize, avionics technician training programs include a mix of online coursework and on-site practical training, while bachelor's degree programs in related subjects may offer fully online studies that can also lead to careers in the aviation industry.