Avionics Integrator Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Get the truth about an avionics integrator's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job duties and see the pros and cons of becoming an avionics integrator.
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Pros and Cons of an Avionics Integrator Career

Avionics integrators are in charge of the design, manufacture and integration of avionics systems for aircraft. Keep reading to help you decide if a career as an avionics engineer is right for you.

Pros of Being an Avionics Integrator
High earning potential (average salary of $107,700 for aerospace engineers in May 2014)*
Regular work hours*
Low risk of injury due to office environment*
Opportunity for advancement to team leads or management*
Low-risk of outsourcing jobs to other countries*

Cons of Being an Avionics Integrator
Low job growth expected (seven percent growth projected between 2012 and 2022)*
Bachelor's degree required at a minimum*
Additional licensure requirements may be necessary*
May need additional specialization to be competitive*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Career Information

Job Duties and Description

Avionics integrators are a specialized branch of aerospace engineers who focus on electronics systems for aircraft. These may include areas such as navigation systems, radar, monitoring systems and flight hardware. Avionics integrators may design, test, build and integrate these systems. In general, avionics integrators work in offices during normal working hours, though sometimes they may need to work overtime to monitor progress or ensure a deadline is met.

Career Prospects and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), avionics integrator positions were expected to grow by seven percent between 2012 and 2022, which was considered slower than the average growth for all other occupations. This trend may be a result of manufacturing industries who employ aerospace engineers declining or experiencing slow growth during this time period. Fortunately, an expected emphasis on redesign for efficiency and the lowering of pollution could offer new job opportunities. The BLS also reported that, as of May 2014, the mean annual salary was $107,700 for aerospace engineers and $58,460 for avionics technicians.

What Are The Requirements?

Most entry-level avionics integrator positions require at least a bachelor's degree in aerospace or another field of engineering. Some schools also offer combined bachelor's/master's degrees which often take five years to complete. Courses taken will include those in physics, mathematics, and related aerospace principles, such as propulsion, control and aerodynamics. Programs in aerospace engineering or avionics may even have specific courses in avionics integration, which can include topics like modern flight control systems, GPS design, radar systems, safety programs and human factors.

Job Listings From Real Employers

Aside from being familiar with the necessary engineering principles, many companies prefer their employees be familiar with computer programs such as AutoCAD, DOORS, Microsoft Office or Pro-E. Additionally, commercial businesses may want employee familiarity with regulations such as those employed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Here are jobs available as of June 2012:

  • A Fortune 500 company in Minnesota is looking for an avionics certification engineer to support the design and development of flight bags and video products. They prefer a background in systems engineering.
  • An aviation company in Florida wants an avionics project engineer to coordinate resources for military and commercial aircraft. They prefer the applicant have knowledge of FAA and federal aviation regulations.
  • A company in Connecticut is seeking an avionics systems integration engineer to design, test and verify their avionics systems. Helicopter experience is desired.
  • A company in Texas wants a lead electrical/avionics engineer to support all parts of the avionics system life-cycle. They prefer applicants with a master's degree and leadership experience.

How Can You Stand Out?

Because the field is expected to be so competitive in the near future, you may want to take some steps to get noticed. One way would be to pursue an engineering license. This is not generally required in the aerospace field, but may be useful for advancement. Generally, you must first pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, and then, after gaining a certain amount of work experience, pass the Professional Engineering (PE) exam. States may require additional requirements on top of these to earn or maintain licensure.

Additionally, many employers are now relying more on computers for design and testing of aircraft and spacecraft, so gaining experience or taking additional courses in the areas of modeling and simulation may improve your chances of employment. Knowing regulations specific to the area you wish to work in, such as civilian or military systems, may also help.

Alternative Career Choices

Electrical Engineer

If you like the idea of working with and designing electrical systems, but would like to branch out from aircraft, you can become an electrical engineer. Electrical engineers work in a variety of industries, such as communication, power generation, navigation systems and manufacturing. According to BLS, the median annual salary was about $86,000 as of May 2011 and job prospects were expected to grow six percent between 2010 and 2020.

Avionics Technician

If you'd prefer not to get a degree, you might want to consider becoming an avionics technician. Avionics technicians repair, test and maintain electrical aircraft systems. A degree is not normally required, though many avionics technicians attend a technician school and are certified by the FAA. The BLS reported that the median annual salary as of May 2011 was around $55,000 a year, and job prospects were expected to grow six percent between 2010 and 2020.

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician

If you like the idea of working with aircraft but would like to branch out from electrical systems, you might want to consider becoming an aerospace engineering and operations technician. Aerospace technicians assist with the development, testing and production of aircraft and spacecraft. The median salary as of May 2011 was about $61,000, but job prospects were expected to decline by two percent between 2010 and 2020.

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