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Working As an Aircraft Maintenance Technician

  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Stressful

  • Make Decisions

  • $53,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Aircraft Maintenance Technician Do

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft. They also perform aircraft inspections as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Duties

Aircraft mechanics typically do the following:

  • Diagnose mechanical or electrical problems
  • Repair wings, brakes, electrical systems, and other aircraft components
  • Replace defective parts, using hand tools or power tools
  • Examine replacement aircraft parts for defects
  • Read maintenance manuals to identify repair procedures
  • Test aircraft parts with gauges and other diagnostic equipment
  • Inspect completed work to ensure that it meets performance standards
  • Keep records of maintenance and repair work

Avionics technicians typically do the following:

  • Test electronic instruments, using circuit testers, oscilloscopes, and voltmeters
  • Interpret flight test data to diagnose malfunctions and performance problems
  • Assemble components, such as electrical controls and junction boxes, and install software
  • Install instrument panels, using hand tools, power tools, and soldering irons
  • Repair or replace malfunctioning components
  • Keep records of maintenance and repair work

Airplanes are highly complex machines that require reliable parts and service to fly safely. To keep an airplane in operating condition, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections. They must follow detailed federal regulations set by the FAA that dictate maintenance schedules for different operations.

Many mechanics are generalists and work on many different types of aircraft, such as jets, piston-driven airplanes, and helicopters. Others specialize in one section, such as the engine, hydraulic system, or electrical system, of a particular type of aircraft. In independent repair shops, mechanics usually inspect and repair many types of aircraft.

Most mechanics who work on civilian aircraft have either one or both of the FAA’s Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificates. Mechanics who have these certificates are authorized to work on most parts of the aircraft, excluding flight instruments and major work on propellers. Maintaining a plane’s electronic flight instruments is typically the job of specialized avionics technicians.

The following are examples of types of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians:

Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics are certified generalist mechanics who can independently perform many maintenance and alteration tasks on aircraft. A&P mechanics repair and maintain most parts of an aircraft, including the engines, landing gear, brakes, and air-conditioning system. Some specialized activities require additional experience and certification.

Maintenance schedules for aircraft may be based on hours flown, days since the last inspection, trips flown, or a combination of these factors. Maintenance also may need to be done at other times to address specific issues recognized by mechanics or manufacturers.

Mechanics use precision instruments to measure wear and identify defects. They may use x rays or magnetic or ultrasonic inspection equipment to discover cracks that cannot be seen on a plane’s exterior. They check for corrosion, distortion, and cracks in the aircraft’s main body, wings, and tail. They then repair the metal, fabric, wood, or composite materials that make up the airframe and skin.

After completing all repairs, mechanics must test the equipment to ensure that it works properly. Aircraft equipped with digital monitoring systems can provide mechanics with valuable diagnostic information from electronic consoles. Mechanics also must keep records of all maintenance that they do on an aircraft.

The A&P ratings generally are considered the initial and most basic ratings needed for a worker to be a professional mechanic. Many additional certifications and specializations can be gained to enable mechanics to perform additional duties. Some of these specializations are as follows:

Avionics technicians are specialists who repair and maintain a plane’s electronic instruments, such as radio communication devices and equipment, radar systems, and navigation aids. As the use of digital technology increases, more time is spent maintaining computer systems. The ability to repair and maintain many avionics and flight instrument systems is granted through the Airframe rating, but other licenses or certifications may be needed.

Designated airworthiness representatives (DARs) examine, inspect, and test aircraft for airworthiness. They issue airworthiness certificates, which aircraft must have to fly. There are two types of DARs: manufacturing DARs and maintenance DARs.

Inspection authorized (IA) mechanics are mechanics who have both Airframe and Powerplant certification and may perform inspections on aircraft and return them to service. IA mechanics are able to do a wider variety of maintenance and alterations than any other type of maintenance personnel. They can do comprehensive annual inspections or return aircraft to service after a major repair.

Repairmen certificate holders may or may not have the A&P certificate or other certificates. Repairmen certificates are issued by certified repair stations to aviation maintenance personnel, and the certificates allow them to do specific duties. Repairmen certificates are valid only while the mechanic works at the issuing repair center and are not transferable to other employers.

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How To Become An Aircraft Maintenance Technician

Many aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians learn their trade at an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. Others enter with a high school education or equivalent and are trained on the job. Some workers enter the occupation after getting training in the military. Aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians typically are certified by the FAA. See Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 65, subparts D and E, for the most current requirements for becoming a certified mechanic.

Education and Training

Aircraft mechanics and service technicians often enter the occupation after attending a Part 147 FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. These schools award a certificate of completion that the FAA recognizes as an alternative to the experience requirements stated in regulations. The schools also grant holders the right to take the relevant FAA exams.

Some aircraft mechanics and service technicians enter the occupation with a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training to learn their skills and to be able to pass the FAA exams. Other workers enter the occupation after getting training in the military. Aviation maintenance personnel who are not certified by the FAA work under supervision until they have enough experience and knowledge and become certified.

Avionics technicians typically earn an associate’s degree before entering the occupation. Aircraft controls, systems, and flight instruments have become increasingly digital and computerized. Maintenance workers who have the proper background in aviation flight instruments or computer repair are needed to maintain these complex systems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians are not required to get licenses or certifications, most do, because these credentials often improve a mechanic’s wages and chances for employment. The FAA requires that aircraft maintenance be done either by a certified mechanic with the appropriate ratings or authorizations or under the supervision of such a mechanic.

The FAA offers separate certifications for bodywork (Airframe mechanics, or “A”) and engine work (Powerplant mechanics, or “P”), but employers may prefer to hire mechanics who have both Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) ratings. The A&P ratings generally certify that aviation mechanics meet basic knowledge and ability standards.

Mechanics must be at least 18 years of age, be fluent in English, and have 30 months of experience to qualify for either the A or the P rating or both (the A&P rating). If only one rating is sought by the mechanic, 18 months’ experience is required to take either the Airframe or the Powerplant exam. However, completion of a program at a Part 147 FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school can substitute for the experience requirement and shorten the time requirements for becoming eligible to take the FAA exams.

Applicants must pass written, oral, and practical exams that demonstrate the required skills. Candidates must pass all the tests within a timeframe of 2 years.

To keep their certification, mechanics must have completed relevant repair or maintenance work within the previous 24 months. To fulfill this requirement, mechanics may take classes from their employer, a school, or an aircraft manufacturer.

Avionics technicians typically are certified through a repair station for the specific work being done, or else they hold the Airframe rating to work on an aircraft’s electronic and flight instrument systems. An Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) certification is available through the National Center for Aerospace & Transportation Technologies (NCATT). It certifies that aviation mechanics have a basic level of knowledge in the subject area, but it is not required by the FAA for any specific tasks. Avionics technicians who work on communications equipment may need to have the proper radiotelephone operator certification issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Other licenses and certifications are available to mechanics who wish to increase their skill set or advance their careers. The Inspection Authorization (IA) is available to mechanics who have had their A&P ratings for at least 3 years and meet other requirements. These mechanics are able to sign off on many major repairs and alterations. Mechanics can get numerous other certifications, such as Repairmen of light-sport aircraft and Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR).

Important Qualities

Strength and agility. Mechanics and technicians may need to carry or move heavy equipment or aircraft parts. They may need to climb on airplanes, balance, and reach without falling.

Detail oriented. Mechanics and technicians need to adjust airplane parts to exact specifications. For example, they often use precision tools to tighten wheel bolts to an exact tension.

Dexterity. Mechanics and technicians must possess dexterity to coordinate the movement of their fingers and hands in order to grasp, manipulate, or assemble parts.

Observational skills. Mechanics and technicians must recognize engine noises, read gauges, and collect other information to determine whether an aircraft’s systems are working properly.

Troubleshooting skills. Mechanics and technicians diagnose complex problems, and they need to evaluate options to correct those problems.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Avionics technicians may begin their careers as aircraft mechanics and service technicians. As aircraft mechanics and service technicians gain experience, they may study independently, attend formal classes, or otherwise choose to pursue additional certifications that grant privileges to work on specialized flight instruments. Eventually, they may become dedicated avionics technicians who work exclusively on flight instruments.

Advancement

As aircraft mechanics gain experience, they may advance to lead mechanic, lead inspector, or shop supervisor. Opportunities are best for those who have an inspection authorization (IA). Many specialist certifications are available that allow mechanics to do a wider variety of repairs and alterations.

Mechanics with broad experience in maintenance and repair might become inspectors or examiners for the FAA.

Additional business and management training may help aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians open their own maintenance facility.

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Aircraft Maintenance Technician Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Aircraft Mechanic 5.4 years
Jet Mechanic 4.9 years
Aviation Mechanic 4.4 years
Top Careers Before Aircraft Maintenance Technician
Mechanic 10.8%
Crew Chief 9.5%
Technician 5.6%
Supervisor 2.6%
Top Careers After Aircraft Maintenance Technician
Mechanic 7.8%
Technician 5.2%
Crew Chief 3.7%
Manager 3.4%
Owner 2.9%

Do you work as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician?

Average Yearly Salary
$53,000
Show Salaries
$42,000
Min 10%
$53,000
Median 50%
$53,000
Median 50%
$53,000
Median 50%
$53,000
Median 50%
$53,000
Median 50%
$53,000
Median 50%
$53,000
Median 50%
$67,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Adobe
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Oregon
Avg Experience Level
6.5 years
How much does an Aircraft Maintenance Technician make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Aircraft Maintenance Technician in the United States is $53,874 per year or $26 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $42,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $67,000.

Real Aircraft Maintenance Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Miami Tech Aircraft Maintenance Inc. Miami, FL May 18, 2016 $66,040
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Miami Tech Aircraft Maintenance Inc. Miami, FL May 10, 2016 $66,040
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport USA Inc. San Francisco, CA Jun 23, 2016 $64,064
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Castle Aviation Services Corp Tampa, FL Aug 06, 2016 $61,194
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport USA Inc. Burlingame, CA Apr 01, 2011 $56,996
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport U.S.A. Inc. Burlingame, CA Nov 10, 2010 $56,805
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Airmark Components, Inc. Fort Lauderdale, FL Jan 20, 2011 $53,269
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport USA Inc. Burlingame, CA Apr 01, 2014 $52,770
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport USA Inc. Burlingame, CA Aug 01, 2014 $52,770
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport USA, Inc. Dulles Town Center, VA Nov 28, 2012 $49,171
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Swissport USA, Inc. Dulles Town Center, VA May 01, 2011 $47,840
Aircraft Manintenance Technician Interaereo A-1, Inc. Opa-locka, FL Nov 12, 2010 $43,846
Aircraft Maintenance Technician J.V. Air Maintenance, Inc. Miami, FL Oct 14, 2009 $40,968 -
$41,010
Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Jet Air, Inc. Galesburg, IL Aug 01, 2010 $39,069
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Jet Aircraft Maintenance, Inc. Miami, FL Apr 14, 2010 $36,209

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Top Skills for An Aircraft Maintenance Technician

  1. Aircraft Parts
  2. Corrective Aircraft Maintenance
  3. Airframe
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Requisitioned aircraft parts and processed repairable and serviceable assets through supply channels.
  • Provided technical leadership through skillful implementation of preventive and corrective aircraft maintenance.
  • Conducted heavy base maintenance Aircraft worked ATR42/72 and CRJ200 Airframe and engines worked and modified Completed aircraft maintenance documentation
  • Maximized the serviceability and airworthiness of the aircraft by inspecting and maintaining aircraft avionics and electrical and environmental components.
  • Performed all facets of aircraft maintenance and repair to FAA regulations, manufacturer specifications and company policies.

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Top 10 Best States for Aircraft Maintenance Technicians

  1. Nevada
  2. Wyoming
  3. Montana
  4. Oregon
  5. Idaho
  6. North Dakota
  7. Utah
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Indiana
  10. Ohio
  • (326 jobs)
  • (103 jobs)
  • (146 jobs)
  • (488 jobs)
  • (113 jobs)
  • (153 jobs)
  • (334 jobs)
  • (881 jobs)
  • (1,039 jobs)
  • (1,690 jobs)

Aircraft Maintenance Technician Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 5,155 Aircraft Maintenance Technician resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Aircraft Maintenance Technician Resume

View Resume Examples

Aircraft Maintenance Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

86.7%

Unknown

6.8%

Female

6.5%
Ethnicity

White

61.1%

Hispanic or Latino

16.7%

Black or African American

11.8%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

4.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.0%

Italian

4.8%

Portuguese

4.8%

French

3.6%

Cherokee

2.4%

Mandarin

2.4%

Korean

2.4%

Greek

2.4%

Comanche

2.4%

Japanese

2.4%

Cantonese

2.4%

Cheyenne

1.2%

Hungarian

1.2%

Russian

1.2%

Navajo

1.2%

Braille

1.2%

Carrier

1.2%

Chinese

1.2%

German

1.2%

Amharic

1.2%
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Aircraft Maintenance Technician Education

Schools

Community College of the Air Force

34.1%

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

9.8%

University of Phoenix

8.8%

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

6.2%

The Academy

5.6%

National Aviation Academy A & P School

3.5%

Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology

3.5%

Teterboro School of Aeronautics

3.2%

Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

3.2%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

2.7%

Ashford University

2.6%

Aviation Institute of Maintenance - Atlanta

2.2%

George T Baker Aviation School

2.0%

Guilford Technical Community College

1.9%

University of Maryland - University College

1.9%

Vincennes University

1.9%

Pima Community College

1.9%

Park University

1.7%

Arizona State University

1.7%

Columbia Southern University

1.6%
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Majors

Aviation

30.1%

Automotive Technology

17.3%

Business

12.9%

Aerospace Engineering

6.6%

Management

3.9%

Electrical Engineering

3.5%

General Studies

2.7%

Mechanical Engineering

2.1%

Accounting

2.1%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.0%

Computer Science

1.9%

Engineering

1.9%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.7%

Computer Information Systems

1.7%

Industrial Technology

1.6%

Education

1.5%

Liberal Arts

1.5%

Project Management

1.5%
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Degrees

Other

30.5%

Bachelors

25.6%

Associate

22.9%

Certificate

9.1%

Masters

6.6%

License

2.9%

Diploma

2.0%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020