Becoming an Aircraft Technician: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of becoming an aircraft technician? Get real job descriptions, outlook and salary information to see if becoming an aircraft technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming an Aircraft Technician

Aircraft technicians, otherwise known as aircraft mechanics and service technicians, are responsible for maintenance, repairs and inspection of airplanes. Read on to learn the pros and cons of a career in aircraft mechanics.

Pros of Becoming an Aircraft Technician
Higher than average salary (mean annual salary was $58,850 in 2014)*
Advancement opportunities with experience and education*
Skills learned on the job can transfer to other fields (repair consulting, research groups, etc.)*
Freedom to work with minimal supervision*
Jobs usually offer benefits (large airlines also usually offer travel perks for employees and their families)*

Cons of Becoming an Aircraft Technician
Slower than average job growth (2% between 2012-2022)*
Work involves deadlines and time constraints*
High level of stress because of safety standards*
Higher than average workplace injury and illness rate (exposure to the elements, heavy lifting, working with power tools and chemicals)*
Rotating shifts (daytime shifts are usually given to workers with high seniority)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Aircraft technicians diagnose and repair mechanical problems on airplanes using a variety of testing equipment, tools and visual inspection. They replace parts and perform routine inspections and maintenance to ensure safe operation. Aircraft technicians may specialize in specific areas, such as inspection or repairs and work on one or several types of aircraft. These technicians usually work in hangars, repair stations or on flight lines. They must work efficiently to ensure that flights are kept on schedule.

Salary Info

Aircraft technicians earned an average annual salary of $58,850 in 2014, according to the BLS. Technicians who work for major airlines and delivery services usually earn more than those working at regional or commuter airlines.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Certification

According to the BLS, anyone performing maintenance or repairs on an aircraft must be certified or work under the supervision of a certified mechanic. Aspiring aircraft technicians can receive an Airframe and Powerplant certificate (A&P) through on-the-job training or completion of a Federal Aviation Administration-approved training program. The A&P certificate is a common requirement for aircraft technician positions, and it must be renewed every 3 years with continued training.

Becoming an airline technician takes more than a good education. This field requires you to have physical abilities as wells as excellent problem solving skills. Here are a few skills and qualities that would be useful for an aspiring airline technician:

  • Agility and dexterity
  • Attention to detail
  • Technical and mechanical skills (ability to interpret and diagnose mechanical problems)
  • No fear of heights

Job Postings by Real Employers

Employers typically look for aircraft mechanics who have both experience and education. Aircraft mechanics are also expected to be knowledgeable of the safety procedures needed for operating heavy equipment as well as the safety regulations for aircraft. Review the below job postings from March 2012 to find out other requirements employers have for aircraft mechanics.

  • An aerospace company in Georgia advertised for an aircraft technician with an A&P certificate and 2 years of experience or 6 years of military aviation maintenance experience to perform all types of inspections, maintenance and repairs on aircraft. This position is for contract work, and it requires candidates to work any shift.
  • An aviation company in Florida looked for an aircraft maintenance technician to inspect, troubleshoot and repair aircraft structures and systems. Candidates are required to have an A&P certificate, 2 years of corporate aircraft experience, 2 years of fleet experience and general knowledge of Federal Aviation Regulations.
  • A company in Massachusetts advertised for an aircraft technician with PT6 heavy maintenance experience and an A&P certificate to service engine modules. The position requires minimal supervision and offers good pay and benefits.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Military aviation maintenance experience or formal education can help aircraft technicians stand out in the job market. Employers also value candidates who keep up with changing technology and advancements in electronics. You may also stand out in the field by relocating to a rural area where there are more available job openings.

Alternative Career Paths

Automotive Service Technician

If you're interested in mechanical work but don't want to work on airplanes, consider becoming an automotive service technician. They perform maintenance, repairs and inspections on automobiles. Most employers value candidates who complete an associate degree program or vocational training program in automotive repair, but formal education isn't always required for entry-level positions. In May 2011, the mean annual salary for automotive service technicians was $39,000, according to the BLS.

Electrical Installer or Repairer

If you want to perform electrical repairs in a variety of industries, consider a career in electrical installation and repairs. Most jobs require an associate's degree or certification, but some candidates with a high school diploma can train on the job. Job growth in this field is expected to remain slow (3% increase between 2010-2020), but applicants with a certification, degree or experience may face better job prospects, according to the BLS.

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