Aviation Mechanic Careers

NUMBER OF JOBS

142,300

JOB OPENINGS

9,100

JOB GROWTH

6%

AVG. SALARY

$53,220 /yr

$25.59 /hr

All Stats from BLS.gov

Aircraft are highly complex machines—and it takes someone with specialized electrical and mechanical skill to keep them running safely. Aircraft mechanics inspect, repair and maintain airplanes and helicopters, following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines. Their job includes examining aircraft components and frames; identifying the causes of mechanical and electrical component malfunctions; diagnosing and replacing worn parts; and inspecting work after repair.

The job often includes installing instrument panels, assembling junction boxes and other components; interpreting flight test data to identify malfunctions; testing electronic equipment; and more.

There are many different types of aviation repair technicians. Some specialize by type of aircraft—such as helicopters or passenger jets. Others specialize in certain systems, such as hydraulics, electrical systems, or engines. Aviation technicians are usually specifically qualified to deal with electronic systems such as radar, flight instruments, and communications. Independent repair shops usually employ people with a broad range of experience, while large commercial airline companies are more likely to employ specialists.

How to Become an Aviation Mechanic 

Attend Aviation Maintenance Technical School

These are specialized schools for aviation mechanics, accredited by the FAA. The courses usually last between 18 and 24 months, although about a third of these schools also award Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in subjects such as aviation maintenance management, aviation technology, and avionics. While a Bachelor’s degree is not yet a minimum requirement to enter the field, employers are increasingly beginning to prefer them.  

Get certified

All professionals working in the aviation maintenance field must be certified by the FAA. There are several different types of certifications, but the most preferred is the Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certification. The FAA requires applicants to be at least 18 years old, speak English fluently, and have 30 months of hands-on experience in the field. If you complete an FAA-approved degree program, however, that can be accepted as the experience on the job. In addition, applicants must pass both oral and practical exams.

If you’d like to advance to a higher-level position, you may need an inspector’s authorization. This is given by the FAA three years after earning your A&P certification, and after at least two years of on-the-job experience. 

Becoming an Aviation Mechanic with an Online Degree

There are very few accredited online degree programs in aviation maintenance—as the hands-on portion is non-negotiable. One of the few accredited programs for aviation maintenance is Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, which offers a Bachelor of Aviation Maintenance Management and several other degrees in this field online.

Aviation Mechanic Salary

The average wage in this field was $53,420 as of 2010, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The lowest level of pay is around $33,630, while the highest is up around $72,250. 

Job Outlook for Aviation Mechanics

Jobs in this field are projected to grow at a slow 6% within the next decade. Part of the reason for slow growth is that the airline industry, under increasing pressure to reduce costs, has begun outsourcing its maintenance programs to other countries. Prospects in the US should be best for those who hold an A&P certificate and a Bachelor’s degree.

Pros and Cons of Becoming an Aviation Mechanic

While the minimum introductory education requirement is fairly low for this position, it has been increasing as of late—and with the competition for an increasingly scarce number of stateside jobs, you may wind up having to earn a Bachelor’s degree to get started. With outsourcing, the job prospects are not as stable as they once were.

In addition, aviation mechanics are often required to work overtime and weekend hours to satisfy ever-present demand in the aviation industry. Working for an airline, while traditionally considered to be a good job, is less desirable than it once was—and mechanics in this field must often work outside, even in difficult weather. Those working for independent repair facilities usually work inside.

Where to Find Aviation Mechanic Jobs:

Indeed.com
SimplyHired.com
CareerBuilder.com