Aircraft Maintenance Career Outlook
If you like airplanes, there will be jobs out there for you. The increase in the number of private planes, the profits in the airline industry, and the growth of the drone industry face a shortage of aircraft maintenance personnel. Situations like this create opportunity and increase wages. Forbes magazine reports, “young with a dream to fly or fix airplanes can look to a brighter future in an exciting and challenging field.”
People working in aviation maintenance are responsible for keeping airplanes and drones in the air. They maintain, fix, and overhaul airframes, engines, instruments, and electrical and hydraulic systems. In addition to the increasing demand for candidates, rapid advances in technology keep the educational requirements high.
According to the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, “The global airline industry will need 34,000 new airplanes (double the current number) by 2031. Commercial airlines will require 601,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians in the next 20 years to maintain that fleet.”
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012 put the median income for Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians at $26.50 per hour or $55,230 per year. This is a median figure, so you should also recognize that the lowest 10% make $35,190/year and the highest 10% earn $76,660 or more. And the Bureau does not differentiate between the several jobs that fall into this category, but it does show that the pay ranges change from one sector to another. For example, commercial air pays the most with government work second, but the differences are small.
The Best Candidates
Avionics is a world that many people are excited about early on. They love airplanes and everything about them. They do not always have what it takes to be a pilot, but they still want to be part of that world. They do share certain characteristics beside the passion:
- Accurate: Workers in aircraft maintenance must use precision tools, measure accurately, and perform to exact specifications.
- Adept: Aircraft Maintenance workers need the dexterity to manage and manipulate parts and tools with fingers and hands.
- Agile: Aircraft Maintenance employees will climb ladders, stretch, reach, and squeeze into narrow spots.
- Alert: Candidates have a knack for observing and recognizing problems, breaking down mechanical parts, and repairing problems.
- Analytic: Aircraft Maintenance workers are expected to diagnose problems, evaluate options, and implement solutions.
Basically, you need interest and a high degree of mechanical aptitude.
The Daily Work
These base skills, and your mechanical aptitude will help candidates perform tasks that include some or all of the following:
- Check parts and systems for defects
- Identify mechanical and electrical problems
- Research and study available procedures for repair and replacement
- Work on airplane components, such as wings, brakes, and electrical systems
- Use hand or power tools to fix or replace parts
- Install electrical controls, junction boxes, and software
- Diagnose problems with gauges, voltmeters, circuit testers and other equipment
- Confirm work meets performance standards
- Maintain records of maintenance and repair work
Aircraft maintenance workers will prepare for specific career paths in electronics, mechanics, fueling, or more focused tracks.
The Necessary Education
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires anyone who works on aircraft to be certified in a school or program approved by them. Like any career, you do better, earn more, and advance quicker with the right education behind you.
What you want to locate is a Part 147 FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance school. Such programs issue a certificate of completion that enables certificate holders to take the necessary FAA tests. Candidates might pursue programs, such as:
- Aviation Maintenance Technical Engineer (AMTE)
- Aviation Maintenance Technician Electronics (AMTE)
- Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT)
- Avionics Technician
- Combination Welding
The FAA issues certification in airframe mechanics for bodywork (“A”) and powerplant mechanics for engine work (“P”). To qualify for A and P certifications, you must be fluent in English, able to take direction and read forms and schematics. You must have 30 months experience to test for both A and P or 18 months for one of the designations. However, you can skip the experience requirement if you complete a program at a Part 137 FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.
Candidates for the career must take and pass written, oral, and practical tests to demonstrate knowledge and ability. You must pass all the required tests within 2 years on the job. And, to keep your certification, you must complete relevant repair and maintenance work within the previous 24 months.
The FAA and the flying public want the assurance that aircraft are routinely and professionally maintained. Readiness is a quality issue, and quality performance requires a quality education.
Related Article: 20 Fun Facts About Aircraft Maintenance
For more information about aviation maintenance 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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