Become an Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft and avionics technicians and mechanics perform scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on aircraft and helicopters. In 2010 there were 142,300 employed mechanics.

By 2020 the forecast is 6% growth rate of aviation maintenance jobs, about 9,000 positions. This growth rate is a slower rate of growth than the overall growth rate projected for all jobs till 2020.

How does one become an aircraft mechanic or technician? It is not required to have a college degree but it may be helpful to have a degree to obtain your first job. Most mechanics and technicians learn their trade at an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School. Course work may last 18-24 months. About 30% of all aviation schools offer college degrees. The student may obtain a two (2) or four (4) year degree at selected schools. Recently employers are considering candidates for aviation maintenance positions more favorably on those applicants with a four (4) year degree.

Other aviation schools offer technical academic and practical courses. Aircraft trade schools offer an emphasis in airframe composite, avionics, jet engines, wiring, aircraft systems and much more. Additional courses are required in mathematics, electronics, computer science, mechanical drawing, F.A.A. regulations and much more.

To obtain certification as a mechanic the FAA offers separate certifications, one for airframe mechanics and one for engine mechanics, (A&P) certificate. The minimum qualifications to become a mechanic is; be at least 18 years of age, be fluent in English, and have 30 months of experience working on airframes and engines. The completion of a certified school program at an approved FAA Aviation Maintenance Technician School can substitute for the experience requirement.

Applicants must pass oral and practical tests administered by an FAA Designated Mechanic Examiner. To obtain the certification all tests must be passed within two (2) years of the initial application date of testing. Testing may be taken at designated testing facilities around the world.

Mechanics must inspect or repair aircraft every 90 days and attend a refresher course every 24 months to maintain license certification.

The daily job of an A&P mechanic may at times be stressful. They must meet aircraft flight schedule departure times, maintain aircraft safety and repair aircraft in difficult work environments. Occasionally mechanics are asked to work numerous hours beyond the standard work day and more than five days per week.

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