Aviation maintenance is a highly specialized field that requires extensive training. Training for aviation maintenance technology specialists starts at an FAA approved training facility, and can take 2-4 years. After completing the program and some work experience, these specialists are eligible to apply for professional licensing.
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Aviation maintenance technology specialists maintain and repair aircraft engines, power train systems, propellers, fuselages and hydraulic systems. They may also work with computers and other instrumentation which control the engine and radio communications.
|Required Education||Federal Aviation Administration certification|
|Other Requirements||Internships for experience|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||1%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$58,370|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
As of May 2015, aircraft mechanics and service technicians earn a median income of about $28.06 per hour or $58,370 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The majority of maintenance workers work full-time in rotating 8-hour shifts, with overtime and weekend work often needed as well. Day shifts are generally given to those with the most seniority.
Aviation maintenance technology specialists repair basic aircraft electrical systems, sheet metal structures and jet engines. They are trained to troubleshoot aircraft problems and perform inspections which are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Part of their job is ensuring that aircraft be kept in good working condition through preventive maintenance. They may work on general, commercial or corporate aircraft.
Some of their duties may include assembling electrical controls, installing electrical aircraft components, diagnosing malfunctions, keeping records of maintenance work and servicing radars or radios. Those who work with communications equipment must have a radio-telephone license, which is administered by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires aviation maintenance technology specialists receive training at an aviation maintenance technician school certified by the FAA. Several accredited colleges and technical schools offer FAA-approved training programs that lead to a 2- or 4-year degree. Students can also earn aviation diplomas, certificates or aviation degrees.
Degree programs provide instruction on aviation fundamentals, information technology, aircraft engines, college trigonometry, aviation electricity, aviation science, airframe systems, aircraft drawings, composites, welding and wing system maintenance. Students should have a strong background in physical science, mathematics, algebra, physics and computer science.
Once a student has completed an approved aviation maintenance degree program and has gained enough work experience, he or she is eligible for licensing by the FAA. Students can apply for certification after 18 months of experience working in airframe or power plant mechanics. They can apply for a combined airframe and power plant certification after 30 months working with both. Some programs require an internship.
Aviation maintenance technology specialists work for aircraft manufacturers, the FAA, major airlines or commuter airlines, and can advance into management positions within these sectors of the aviation industry. They may also become aviation engineers, communication engineers and electrical engineers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians to be at one percent between 2014 and 2024. Airlines are outsourcing a greater amount of maintenance work to other countries, which is a key factor in the limited employment expansion. However, air travel is expected to gradually increase over the next decade, and opportunities will remain available, especially for those licensed to install and remove airplane equipment. Aviation maintenance technology specialists with an airframe and power plant certification are thought to have the best job opportunities overall.
Aviation maintenance technology specialists perform inspections of airplanes, identify problems, and perform basic electrical and maintenance repairs. Training to become one of these specialists must be through an approved flight school. Aviation maintenance technology is an impacted field with slow growth so specializations are recommended to improve job prospects.