Is It Worth Going to Mechanic School to Be An Aircraft Technician?
Aviation maintenance has a lot of advantages over other industries. The pay, work schedule, and stability are extremely appealing, but the job market isn't growing as quickly as fields like auto repair or HVAC. On top of all that, you will almost certainly have to go to mechanic school in order to get a job as an aviation maintenance mechanic. So it's important to take a hard look at what the job will be like and what you need to do to succeed in the field before committing to a career in aviation repair.
How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic
In order to become an aircraft mechanic, you generally have to go to an FAA-certified mechanic school. Unlike in some industries, you can't learn the skills in your dad's garage or even on the job. Some mechanics get initial training in the military or in select jobs, but by and large, you have to go to mechanic school.
The reason is that airplane safety is taken extremely seriously, so mechanics have to prove themselves before they can work on planes. Mechanics need thirty months (2 ½ years) of experience to be eligible for FAA certifications in airframe mechanics and powerplant (engine) mechanics. Then to earn the certifications, mechanics have to pass rigorous written, oral, and practical tests. The right mechanic school will provide the training necessary to get hired at your first job, get some practical experience, and pass these tests.
Why You Should Consider a Career in Aircraft Maintenance
Is it worth all that effort of going to mechanic school and passing the certification exams to go into aviation repair? One thing is for sure: becoming an aircraft mechanic is undeniably lucrative. Aviation maintenance mechanics can expect to make more than almost any other type of mechanic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage in 2016 was $61,190. That's compared to a median wage of $39,550 for auto mechanics – meaning that you can make 50% more by going into aircraft repair! Mechanics who work for the military or major airlines generally make even more, with salaries between $70,000 and $92,000 per year. The more formal education you have in aircraft maintenance, the more likely you are to snag those higher-paying jobs.
The reasons to go into aircraft maintenance don't stop at pay, either. Most aircraft mechanics work for large companies and belong to a worker's union. That means that, unlike many mechanics who operate as hourly employees or independent contractors, aviation mechanics generally work regular hours and receive full benefits. That's right, you can pursue your dreams of being a mechanic, earn good pay, and also receive paid vacation and sick days, health and life insurance, and even retirement plans!
Are there any downsides to working in aviation repair? Well, while you may work more regular hours and get paid time off, you won't have as much control over your schedule as if you were an auto mechanic in an independent shop. You also won't really be able to open your own shop or be your own boss, which is why a lot of people are drawn to becoming a mechanic. For many people, though, the benefits far outweigh these downsides.
A little research into the industry will also show you that, on the surface, the job outlook isn't quite as good as other mechanic fields either. According to the BLS, the job market is expected to grow by 5% between 2016 and 2026 – while the HVAC job market will grow by 15%. But that growth is still as fast as average job market growth, so your employment prospects will still be good. But here's the important thing: the job market growth isn't the whole story. It turns out that aircraft mechanics are starting to age out and retire at a high rate, causing problems for the entire aviation industry. That means that right now is actually the perfect time to go into this already promising field! It's even reasonable to expect salaries to rise as demand for qualified mechanics continues to exceed supply.
Ready to Get Started?
Are you ready to start your journey to a profitable and rewarding career as an aviation mechanic? Then it's time to apply to mechanic school and start learning the skills you'll need to succeed. But not all schools are created equal – there are so many mechanic schools out there and it's important to pick the right one. Luckily, MechanicSchool.com is here to help!