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Everything You Need to Know About Aircraft Mechanics

Airplane Propellers

You’ve heard the phrase “the sky's the limit” - but did you ever think it could literally apply to your career? Aircraft mechanics keep our favorite aircrafts like planes, jets and helicopters working correctly so they’re able to take to the skies and show us just how exactly the sky’s the limit. If you’ve ever been interested in going into aviation mechanics or even just had an interest in who keeps aircrafts up and flying, you’re in the right place. We’ll fly you through a complete guide to becoming an aircraft mechanic!

Take a Flight Through the Basics

Airplane

Before we discuss what it takes to become an aircraft mechanic, let’s learn more about aircraft mechanics as a career.

Job Description and Duties

Aircraft mechanics repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircrafts to ensure they are operating safely. They must follow standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration when performing job duties.

Aircraft mechanics repair and maintain aircrafts by performing the following duties:

  • Diagnosing electrical and mechanical issues
  • Examining aircrafts and parts for defects
  • Replacing defective parts
  • Repairing electrical systems, wings, breaks and other aircraft components
  • Reading maintenance manuals to ensure procedures are done correctly
  • Testing aircraft parts for working conditions
  • Inspecting completed work to make sure it is up to par
  • Keeping records and paperwork of all repairs

Aircraft mechanics use a variety of tools in order to diagnose aircraft issues and repair those issues. In any given day, aircraft mechanics may use computers, diagnostic devices, and hand and mechanical tools like wrenches, pliers, magnets, and mirrors.

Important Skills for Aircraft Mechanics

Aircraft mechanics need to have a lot of skills in order to do their job properly; most are learned through education and experience. However, there are a few basic skills that all aircraft mechanics will want to have.

Aircraft mechanics should have the following basic skills:

  • Dexterity - aircraft mechanics are almost always working with their hands!
  • Attention to detail - aircrafts must be repaired and maintained to very specific standards.
  • Technical skills - aircraft mechanics need to be able to know about and operate tools and technology to repair and maintain aircrafts.
  • Problem solving - aircraft mechanics must find and solve problems with aircrafts in order to maintain and repair them!
  • Communication - like with any job, communication is key! Aircraft mechanics need to know how to read, write and communicate effectively.

Aircraft Mechanic Salary

Aircraft mechanics make a great salary, which happens to be well above the median annual wage for all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, aircraft mechanics have a median annual wage of $61,020. You may just be able to fly high with your salary, too: the highest 10% of earners in aircraft mechanics earned a median annual wage of $92,080!

Job Prospects

The job prospects of aircraft mechanics is projected to grow at a rate of 5% between 2016 and 2026, which puts it just below the national average of job prospects growth, which is 7%. There are some states with better job prospects for aircraft mechanics than others, though, with more employed aircraft mechanics than other states.

The top 5 states with the most employed aircraft mechanics are:

  1. Texas - 18,120 employed aircraft mechanics
  2. Florida - 13,690 employed aircraft mechanics
  3. California - 13,010 employed aircraft mechanics
  4. Georgia - 8,380 employed aircraft mechanics
  5. Washington - 5.120 employed aircraft mechanics

How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic

Cockpit

Now that you know more about what aircraft mechanics do and what the career is like, you can learn more about how to become an aircraft mechanic!

Meet the Prerequisites

In order to start becoming an aircraft mechanic, you’ll need to meet a few prerequisites: be at least 18 years old, and be able to read, speak and write english. Then you can go on to become an aircraft mechanic!

Three Paths to Become an Aircraft Mechanic

There are three typical established paths to becoming an aircraft mechanic.

FAA Approved Aircraft Mechanic Schools

One of the more traditional routes to becoming an aircraft mechanic is by attending and graduating from an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved program. Aspiring aircraft mechanics will need to attend and complete an Aviation Maintenance Technician, or AMT program. These programs typically offer everything that is needed to become educated as an aircraft mechanic, as well as what is needed to pass licensing exams.

Want to find a school, but not sure where to start? Make sure to check out Mechanic School’s school search engine! Find the perfect school for you by location, school type and program type.

On-the-Job Training Programs

Many aspiring aircraft mechanics choose to complete in-the-job training rather than formal education programs. To become an aircraft mechanic through this route, you must complete at least 18 months of formal on-the-job training under the supervision of a qualifies aircraft mechanic.

Military Experience and Training

Many aircraft mechanics find their way to the career after serving in the military. The FAA gives military service members credit for experience that has to do with working in aviation maintenance.

Tests and Certifications

In order to become an official aircraft mechanic, aircraft mechanics that have completed school or training need to complete three types of tests to become certified. These are written tests, oral tests and practical tests.

Written Tests

There are three types of written exams, with the most popular being the AMT-General Test. This is a general written exam which tests the knowledge of aircraft mechanics. You must score at least a 70% to pass the test.

Oral Tests

Oral tests may be taken with the practical tests, and are a discussion with a certified FAA inspector to show your spoken knowledge of aircraft mechanisms.

Practical Tests

Practical tests are typically taken in conjunction with the oral tests and are completed in the presence of a certified FAA inspector. In the practical test, you will demonstrate your knowledge of the workings of aircrafts and how to maintain and repair them.

Ready to Take Off?

Airport

Now that you know what it takes to become an aircraft mechanic, are you ready to take off into a new career in aviation? Remember, the sky’s the limit!