Aviation Maintenance Technician Training: A Simple Definition
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians repair and replace airplane parts, diagnose problems, maintain or exceed performance criteria, document their work and much more as part of their responsibility in keeping air passengers and crew safe. They work in many types of environments: outside, inside in hangars and repair stations and at airfields. Their employers include private industries and the federal government, and these employers look for certain training qualifications.
Aviation Maintenance Technician Training and Other Requirements
If you are interested in the career path of an Aviation Maintenance Technician, here are some ways to get into the job.
- Attend a Part 147 aviation maintenance technician school approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. You’ll get a certificate of completion and be eligible to take FAA exams for the job. Going to one of these schools allows you to bypass FAA experience requirements.
- Bypass aviation maintenance technician school and enter the field with a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma. You’ll be trained on the job to learn relevant skills and to gain the capability to pass the FAA exams. Military experience applies. Until you are certified by the FAA, you must work under observation.
- Earn an associate’s degree first. Such education will provide a good foundation for learning complex computerized controls, systems and flight instruments. Workers who can handle these tasks on higher levels tend to get paid better.
Certification and Training Types
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the FAA offers two types of certifications for aircraft technicians. While not required, these certifications typically lead to more job offers, higher pay and more responsibility. Technicians who have both certifications are in even higher demand.
- Airframe mechanics (“A”): Demonstrates ability to work on airplane bodies
- Powerplant mechanics (“P”): Engine work
To meet both A and P standards, you must be at least 18 years old, skilled in English and have 30 months of experience. In lieu of experience is program completion at a Part 147 FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School. You will take oral, written and hands-on exams to demonstrate your skills.
During training, students work on agility (climbing planes without falling), attention to detail, adroitness with tools, observation (what engine noises mean and how to interpret gauges), and critical thinking in troubleshooting.
Repair stations also certify technicians for specific work, and if you want to work on electronic or flight instrument systems, you must have an airframe rating.
- Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) certification: Granted by the National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies but not required by the FAA.
- Radio-telephone operator certification: Granted by the Federal Communications Commission and sometimes necessary for people who focus on communications systems.
- Inspection Authorization (IA): You have been A & P certified for three years and meet various other standards. Technicians with this certification supervisor big repairs and alterations and sign off with them.
There are also other certifications and training programs for mechanics looking to increase their prospects.
As with many jobs, once you become certified, ongoing training is needed to stay certified. You can meet this requirement by taking classes in various settings: from an airplane manufacturer, your employer or a school.
Pay and Work
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings for an aircraft technician in May 2012 were $55,210. Earnings for avionics technicians were $55,350. These workers with more seniority usually have priority for day shifts. Night and weekend work is common.
Related Article: Aviation Maintenance Technician Shortage Predicted
For more information about aircraft maintenance career training, the Aviation Institute of Maintenance Aircraft Mechanic School Programs is where you can learn more. Visit our Consumer Information Disclosure page, Gainful Employment Disclosure and Consumer Information.
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