In an associate's degree program in aviation technology, students are provided with basic studies in aircraft systems, structures and troubleshooting techniques. A bachelor's degree program will expand on these topics and prepare students for more advanced positions. Math and science courses are typically part of the general education curricula of these programs. Hands-on training exercises may accompany classroom instruction in undergraduate degree programs in aviation repair. Prerequisites for both programs include a high school diploma, certain age requirements and a background in algebra, electronics, physics and science.
Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Technology
In an associate-level undergraduate program, students learn about the whole airplane including structure, electrical and mechanical properties. Training prepares program graduates to take the Federal Aviation Administration Examination of the Airframe and Powerplant Maintenance Certificate. This certificate enables the graduate to maintain, repair and otherwise ensure the safety of a given aircraft. Those who become certified can work on small propeller planes or commercial jets, depending on experience acquired. Courses in any associate's degree program for aviation technology cover similar standard program topics, outlined below. General education units round out the curriculum.
- Aviation practices and fundamentals
- Algebra and trigonometry
- Basic aviation electricity
- Aircraft structures
- Engine troubleshooting
- Airframe systems and rotary wing systems
Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Baccalaureate degree programs in aviation maintenance technology cover the subject matters and skills needed to obtain the FFA Airframe and Powerplant certificate, then provide a more in-depth overview of mechanical and electronic principles. If a student already holds the certificate, then he or she may be able to accelerate through the program. The main focus of such an undergraduate program is modern and future jets and commercial aircraft.
As with all 4-year undergraduate programs, coursework is comprised of core classes, electives and general education credits. Examples of common core course topics include:
- Aviation safety, maintenance regulations and aircraft inspection and service
- Aircraft engines and reciprocating engine systems
- Advanced airframe systems
- Aircraft turbine systems
- Non-destructive testing
Popular Career Options
Those with training in the maintenance, repair and troubleshooting of aircraft bodies and engines at the baccalaureate level may want to pursue technician employment with:
- Corporate flight operations
- Government agencies
- Maintenance organizations
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 124,040 people in the country were working as aircraft mechanics in 2015. As of May 2015, their median annual wages were $58,370. It is estimated that the number of mechanics increase 1% from 2014-2024.
Holding an associate's degree may give individuals a jump-start in the aviation repair industry, and make them competitive candidates for entry-level training roles. If one wishes to obtain a higher position right out of college, they might consider a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance.
If one wants to run the maintenance department at the airport, a Master of Science in Business Administration-Aviation is applicable. Since there is a strong knowledge of the design obtained through a career in maintenance, one might consider a Master of Aerospace Engineering due to its emphasis on development and design of aircraft.
Individuals who want to maintain and repair aircraft can choose from several aviation technology degree options in order to become aviation repair technicians. Students looking for more advanced or management positions in the industry would be well suited with a bachelor's degree or master's degree program.