Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $55,350
- 2011, number of jobs: 16,810
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 6 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Postsecondary non-degree award
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians; what they do:
How many little kids dream of growing up and working on airplanes? Their dream can become a reality as an aircraft mechanic, avionics equipment mechanic, aircraft technician, or an avionics equipment technician. These individuals keep airplanes and helicopters running properly and safely, performing regular scheduled maintenance and FAA-required inspections.
Anyone who has ever successfully ridden on a plane owes a thank you to the aircraft mechanic, whose job it is to examine the plane’s frame and parts for defects, determine if any parts are becoming worn out, and determine any mechanical or electrical problems.
Aircraft mechanics repair everything from wings to breaks to electrical systems. Aviation mechanic careers include replacing small parts with hand tools and test gauges and diagnostic equipment.
Aircraft mechanics may either work on a variety of aircrafts or specialize in one part of a specific type of aircraft, such as the engine, hydraulics, or electrical system.
Like aircraft mechanics, avionics equipment technicians also look for potential issues with aircraft. Avionics equipment technician careers include testing an aircraft’s technical instruments, using everything from small hand tools to circuit testers, oscilloscopes, and voltmeters.
An aircraft technician career involves interpreting flight data, searching for possible malfunctions or performance problems.
An avionic equipment technician career includes assembling components, installing instruments, and repairing any malfunctioning instruments.
Aircraft mechanics and avionics equipment technicians keep scrupulous records of all tests and maintenance performed.
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Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians job titles:
- Maintenance Mechanic
- Repair Mechanic
- Avionic Technician
- Aviation Electronics Technician
- Avionics Installer
- Aircraft Electrical Systems Specialist
- Aviation Maintenance Technicians
- Airplane Mechanic
- Helicopter Mechanic
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Education, Certification and License Requirements
An aviation career, such as an aircraft mechanic, avionics equipment mechanic, aircraft technician, or an avionics equipment technician, may begin with graduating from an FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technical School. Some of these schools offer associate’s degrees, while other offer a Bachelor of Avionics, Aviation Technology, or Aviation Maintenance Management. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians programs cover subjects such as:
- Chemical engineering
- Computer science
- Mechanical drawing
- Management skills
Aircraft mechanics, avionics equipment mechanics, aircraft technicians, and avionics equipment technicians need certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Although separate certifications are available for airframe mechanics and engine mechanics, employers prefer hiring individuals with a combined Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate.
In order to maintain their certification, aircraft mechanics must inspect or repair aircraft every 90 days and attend a refresher course every two years.
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Career Advancement Opportunities
With experience, aircraft mechanics may advance in their career to a lead mechanic, lead inspector, or shop supervisor position. Aviation mechanics often advance from general aviation jobs to airline jobs. Individuals with an aircraft inspector’s authorization and a bachelor’s degree have the best career advancement opportunities.
Other advanced position aircraft or avionics mechanics and technicians may become an inspector for the FAA or open their own maintenance shop.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Job Outlook
Forecast: Six percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for aircraft mechanics, avionics equipment mechanics, aircraft technicians, and avionics equipment technicians, much slower than the average for all occupations.
Although air travel is gradually increasing, airlines often outsource jobs for aircraft mechanics, avionics equipment mechanics, aircraft technicians, and avionics equipment technicians, which inhibits job growth within the United States for these positions.
Aircraft mechanics, avionics equipment mechanics, aircraft technicians, and avionics equipment technicians with a Bachelor of Aircraft Maintenance degree and an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate have the best job opportunities.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $55,350
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $64,890
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $47,210
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians Major Employers
- Scheduled air transportation
- Support activities for air transportation (including airports)
- Aerospace products and parts manufacturing
- Federal government, excluding postal services
- Nonscheduled air transportation