Aviation Maintenance Technician Career
If you love aircrafts and have a knack for mechanics, an aviation maintenance technician career could be for you. The following is information on the ins and outs of the position as well as what it takes to get into the field, whether you have prior experience with aircraft maintenance or are just starting out.
An aviation maintenance technician, also known as an aircraft and avionics maintenance technician, or A&P—Airframe and Power Plant Mechanic—within the ranks, is essentially someone possessing a mechanic certificate from the FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration. These hard working individuals may work on commercial airplanes, military jets, helicopters, or private aircraft. Some specialize in certain aircraft systems such as engines or computer systems. This line of work is demanding in that it can involve adhering to deadlines imposed by flight schedules, frequent overtime, and the use of challenging machinery.
Education and Training
While there are many private aviation mechanics training schools, any worthwhile program must be accredited by the FAA and teach according to Federal Aviation Regulations or FARs. There are currently over 170 programs with FAA accreditation, with different schools offering different levels and types of training. Some focus on learning for the exam, which can be a quicker and less expensive route for anyone who already has practical experience with working on aircraft. The other types, such as degree programs, focus as much on hands-on or simulated training as test preparation and analytical learning. The latter programs are more expensive and work best for those needing a complete education.
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The cost of obtaining training for certification from a vocational institute for this position averages anywhere from $100 and $500. The cost of the classes fluctuates due to the amount of material that is covered, and the classes on the less expensive side are geared only toward simple test preparation—not practical training. Getting an Associate’s degree in aviation technology can cost up to $25,000, and additional education, such as a Bachelor’s degree, may cost over $40,000 to complete. The latter can also come with an average out-of-pocket cost or loan amount of $20,000 once school is finished. After this, the cost of registering for the FAA A&P certification test is an additional $250.
Many training programs have scholarship or financial aid programs to help offset the cost of enrollment. If you choose to attend an accredited two- or four-year degree program at a college or university, you will be able to apply for federal financial aid to receive the Federal Pell Grant, work study opportunities, veteran’s benefits and state funded grants, if eligible. Some programs also offer tuition fee waiver programs as well as scholarships. With all financial aid except scholarships, the primary deciding factor will be the amount of financial need established through completing a FAFSA application.
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There are a number of places that an aviation maintenance technician may work. These include commercial airports, hangars, military installations and airfields. Recent openings for this position have been posted by companies such as American Airlines, Lockheed Martin, and Cabela’s Inc. Most positions expect that applicants hold an Airframe and Power Plant License as well as possess varying amounts of work experience. Companies such as Lockheed Martin may also require that individuals also have qualifications such as Air Force Security Clearance and a university degree.
The salary average for anyone with an aviation maintenance technician career is about $52,000. The number increases for individuals working at commercial airlines or for those who have higher degrees and is less for those without a degree. For example, employment postings for positions that require a Bachelor’s degree average a starting salary of $70,000. The aviation maintenance career tends to also boast longer than average position lengths, offering workers greater long-term job security. Additional benefits include receiving family flight discounts with the worker’s airline of employment as well as health and retirement benefits packages.
The aviation maintenance field is experiencing average growth when compared to other fields according to statistical employment data, and it has an expected 6% yearly increase over the next 10 years. Considering the continued technological development in the field and need for air transport for both commercial and military use, aviation maintenance technicians will remain valuable. As with many positions, those who hold the most versatile certification and formal training will usually experience the highest levels of job security.
A career as an aviation maintenance technician can afford a person with not only a richly interesting hands-on experience in a growing industry, but the added benefits of job security and relatively high income in comparison to training and certification requirements. If you have a passion for aircrafts, can think on your toes, and work quickly with your hands, a career in aviation maintenance will provide the perfect opportunity for making a successful living while doing what you love.