Avionics technicians work with aircrafts, either producing and testing parts, or conducting maintenance. Work experience and on-the-job training are sufficient for entry into this field, but some associate's degree programs are available. On-the-job training without a degree entails multiple months of supervised work, after which time candidates must pass a series of exams in order to obtain A&P certification.
Avionics technicians repair and maintain the electrical systems in both military and civilian aircrafts. Avionics technicians can opt for on-the-job training and work experience to enter this career field, or they may choose to attend college for a certificate or associate's degree in avionics.
|Required Education||No formal education needed for those who complete on-the-job training and work experience; alternately, certificate or associate's degree is required|
|Other Requirements||A&P certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||0% for avionics technicians|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$58,540 for avionics technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Education Requirements for an Avionics Technician
Avionics technicians test and produce various types of aviation electronics, such as jet engines, computerized guidance systems or flight-control circuitry. There are about 170 aviation maintenance technician schools that are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Most of these schools prepare their students for the FAA's airframe and powerplant (A&P) certification.
The curriculum in an avionics degree program includes courses in radio communication theory, avionics system integration and avionics systems line maintenance. Required courses for A&P certification include mathematics, physics, processes and materials, the basics of aircraft, documents and regulations, electricity and power, power plants and fuel and exhaust systems.
While there are undergraduate degrees and certificates available for avionics technicians, graduate and post-graduate degrees in avionics are not commonly offered in these programs. Avionics technicians who are interested in further education can go on to pursue engineering degrees.
Some avionics technicians opt out of formal training and receive on-the-job training. The Federal Aviation Administration requires a minimum 30 months of work experience for A&P certification for non-degreed applicants, during which time technicians must be supervised by licensed avionics professionals. A&P certification applicants must pass an oral, written and practical exam that demonstrates their ability to work in this field. An avionics technician who works on either radio or radar equipment must be licensed by the Federal Communication Commission as a restricted radio-telephone operator.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 17,340 avionics technicians in the United States in 2015. Career opportunities in this field are expected to remain the same (0% growth) from 2014-2024; however, job openings are expected to stem from the high retirement rate among avionics and aircraft repair technicians rather than from industry growth. The average salary for avionics techs was $58,540 per year in 2015, with avionics technicians in scientific research and development services earning the highest median salary.
Avionics technicians are employed at large airports where aircrafts must be serviced and repaired. Repair technicians often diagnose and fix problems with airplanes that have issues on the runway or perform scheduled repairs on aircraft systems. Avionics technicians are also employed at commuter and regional airlines and FAA repair stations.
Avionics technicians need A&P certification in order to work. They can obtain this through an official training or educational program, or they can receive on-the-job training under the supervision of a licensed avionics professional. During training and following certification, avionics technicians help to build, test, and maintain parts for airplanes.