Become an Aircraft Mechanic Today
Aircraft mechanics play a pivotal role in the safe operation of various types of aircraft and helicopters. Read ahead for important information about how to become an aircraft mechanic today.
Aircraft mechanics play a pivotal role in the safe operation of various types of aircraft and helicopters. Aircraft mechanics, also referred to as aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs), handle routine maintenance, preventative maintenance, and repairs on major and minor aircraft around the country. What specific tasks and responsibilities are performed by AMTs today? What type of training and education is required?
FAA-approved certificate programs and on-the-job training are both available in 2021. Are licenses attainable without FAA-approved education? How long does it take to become an AMT and what are the salary expectations for this vocation going forward? Regardless of how the experience is acquired the duties of an aircraft mechanic literally help keep passengers and crewmembers safe while in flight. Read ahead for important information about how to become an aircraft mechanic today.
Aircraft Mechanic (tasks & responsibilities)
Tasks and responsibilities associated with aircraft mechanic positions are crucial to the safe and effective operation of aircrafts and helicopters. Routine maintenance, preventative maintenance and repairs are performed on complicated mechanical/computer parts and machines. Aircraft mechanics inspect and work on mechanical, structural and operational systems. Malfunctions are diagnosed and repaired. Preventative maintenance is performed to prevent errors/malfunctions from reoccurring. Leaks are patched. Broken wings are repaired and/or replaced as applicable. Additional tasks & responsibilities performed by aircraft mechanics include:
- Reading complicated blueprints.
- Complying w/applicable safety regulations (local, regional, state & federal).
- Performing diagnostics tests.
- Collaborating w/other AMTs & electricians.
- Filing maintenance & repair logs.
- Using power & hand tools.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues licenses to successful graduates from an FAA-approved aircraft maintenance technician school (AMTS). AMTS training facilities are FAA-rated for airframe, powerplant and airframe & powerplant (A&P) certification programs, all of which include strict and comprehensive curriculum requirements. Students choose airframe studies, powerplant programs or both. Each AMT is required to pass FAA-facilitated written, oral and practical examinations. Becoming an avionics technician or authorized inspector requires additional training and testing.
Airframe and Power Plant (A&P) License
An airframe and power plant (A&P) license is obtainable through FAA-approved schooling, military training or civilian aviation experience. An A&P license is granted to any mechanic passing specific examinations relative to the field. Examinations for A&P licenses are categorized into airframe and powerplant ratings, with subcategories of specialties under each primary rating. To receive an A&P license you must be at least eighteen years old and a U.S. citizen. Reading, writing and speaking English is required. A&P licenses are obtainable through FAA-approved AMTS schools. A&P licenses are also obtainable by accruing eighteen months practical on-the-job power plant or airframe experience or thirty total months practical on-the-job experience working both ratings.
A high school diploma or GED equivalency certificate is recommended prior to pursuing a career as an aircraft mechanic. Aircraft mechanics are required to understand physical principles pursuant to the operation of aircrafts and aircraft systems. Sometimes a degree in engineering is required for higher paying jobs with more supervisory and/or analyzation responsibilities. The ability to use hand and power tools, a willingness to travel, attention to detail and an extremely high work ethic are all required of aircraft mechanics in 2021.
Aircraft Mechanic (salary expectations)
The median salary for aircraft mechanics in 2020 was approximately $66,680/year or $32.06/hour. The projected job growth rate for this vocation is five percent through 2029, or just slightly higher than the average projected growth rate for other careers in the U.S. during the same period of time. AMTs who also train for supervisor, avionics technician or authorized inspector positions make significantly higher salaries ($80,000-$100,000+/year) to coincide with their increased duties and job responsibilities.
Costs for Training/Education
The costs for airline mechanic training and education vary based on the method you choose to obtain your education and level of career you are pursuing. For example, on-the-job training is free but is not sufficient on its own to get you an A&P license. FAA-facilitated Certification Activity Tracking System (CATS) written examinations are separated into airframe and powerplant ratings. The total cost for these written tests is approximately $450. Oral and practical tests cost an additional approximate $1,000 in fees although testing fees might range between $100-$600 per test based on location and facility.
Certain higher-paying aircraft mechanic jobs require college degrees. Two-year associate degree programs cost between approximately eight and thirty thousand dollars total and more. Associate degree holders qualify for jobs as aviation maintenance technicians. Four-year bachelor's degree programs for aircraft maintenance costs approximately twenty to eighty thousand dollars. Bachelor’s degree holders qualify for jobs as technical representatives, ground operations persons, aircraft salespeople, aviation maintenance technicians and more.
Additional expenses also apply. Applications fees for tests and certificate programs might cost $45 per test/program. Books and tools (which you keep) add extra expenses up to approximately $1,500 or more.
Becoming an Aircraft Mechanic – How Long Does it Take?
Becoming a licensed aircraft mechanic takes a minimum of eighteen months working under the supervision of an FAA-licensed mechanic in either the aircraft or power plant rating/discipline, plus the time it takes you to pass your applicable examination(s). Associate and bachelor’s college degree programs take two to four years to complete respectively. Ultimately it takes between one and five years to become a licensed aircraft mechanic depending on your career, salary and advancement aspirations.
Top U.S. Schools/Programs
The Epic Flight Academy is one of the top schools for aircraft mechanic training in 2021. The National Aviation Academy in Tampa, Florida and the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Atlanta, Georgia also offer top aircraft mechanic programs today. Additional top U.S. schools/programs offering aircraft mechanic certificate and degree programs in 2021 include:
- Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics.
- Broward College.
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
- City College of San Francisco.
- George T. Baker Aviation Technical College.