Career Defined for an Aircraft Repair Technician
Aircraft repair technicians work on all types of aircraft, performing routine maintenance, as well as repairs. Although some aircraft repair technicians specialize in fixing problems reported by pilots, others perform check-ups mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA). Inspection specialists gather diagnostic information from built-in monitoring systems, remove and disassemble engines, use X-ray and magnetic resonance devices to look for invisible cracks, measure parts for wear, repair damaged areas and perform tests on a wide variety of components and systems. Additionally, aircraft repair technicians are responsible for keeping excellent records for all work performed. Some aircraft repair technicians are FAA-licensed to work on certain types of aircraft, such as jets, propeller planes or helicopters; others are trained in aircraft sections, such as the airframe, power plant or avionics system.
|Education||FAA-approved training programs|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of aircraft, advanced mechanic skills, attention to detail, written and oral communication skills, problem-solving, creative thinking|
|Median Salary (May 2021)||$65,380 (Aircraft mechanics and service technicians)|
|Job Growth (2021-2031)||6% (Aircraft mechanics and service technicians)|
Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Most aircraft repair technicians complete training programs offered by about 170 schools that have been approved by the FAA. In such programs, students develop hands-on skills utilizing the tools and materials used on the job in courses such as applied aircraft science, sheet-metal structures, welding, gas-turbines and aviation regulations. Programs in fields such as aviation technology or aviation maintenance management can take 18 months to four years to complete, depending on the program and resulting award. According to O*Net Online in 2016, 60% of aircraft mechanics and service technicians had some college experience but held no degree, while 25% of these workers had an associate's degree.
Graduates can become FAA-licensed only after they pass a 1-hour examination consisting of written, oral and practical components. Although there are a number of licenses offered by the FAA, the majority of aircraft service and repair technicians earn combined airframe and power plant licenses; these individuals are also referred to as A&P mechanics in the industry.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that aircraft repair technicians needed the following skills:
- Knowledge of all aircraft
- Advanced mechanical skills
- Ability to read, write and communicate well
- High level of detail
- Problem-solving and creative thinking skills
- Physical strength, agility, manual dexterity and no fear of heights
Employment and Salary Outlook
According to the BLS, aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians jobs were expected to grow 6% from 2021-2031. The BLS also reported that the median annual salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $65,380 in May 2021.