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How To Become An Aircraft Mechanic

Are you the kid that loved airplanes? Imagine a career where you get to work on them all day! Aircraft mechanics are in demand so if working on engines and big machines is your thing, this is a great career option.
Career Overview*
  • Median Salary$66,440
  • Career Outlook12% growth through 2030
  • Certifications FAA A&P Certification

What Does An Aircraft Mechanic Do?

Aircraft mechanics (or Aviation Maintenance Technicians) spend their days working on a variety of airplanes and/or helicopters.

There are a large variety of tasks that might be done on any given day including making repairs or doing general maintenance. Aircraft mechanics are responsible for the safety of passengers, pilots and flight attendants, so this is not a career for the light hearted.

Some typical day to day activities might include:

  • Repairing damaged engines
  • Diagnosing issues using a variety of machines
  • Replacing worn plane parts
  • Maintain plane records either with a computer or ledger
  • Testing repairs with diagnostic equipments

Becoming an aircraft mechanic is a generalized career but opportunities are also available to specialize in certain sections or even aircraft types.

Specialties

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) offers what is called the “A&P Certificate”. This represents two unique specialties within the aircraft mechanic training process.

  • A is for Airframe mechanic.
  • P is for Powerplant aircraft mechanic.

You can opt to be dual certified in both or just be certified in one specific area, but for the best future opportunities we would highly recommend obtaining the full A&P Certification.

How To Become An Aircraft Mechanic

Becoming an aircraft mechanic does require some education, training and practical experience.

Many who want to be plane mechanics will choose to attend FAA approved aircraft technician schools.

Below is everything you need to know to become a mechanic in the aviation industry.

Basic Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Fluent in English
  • High school diploma or GED

Education Requirements or On The Job Training

There are 2 options to get into this career. The recommended option is to attend a FAA certified training school but this can be replaced with on the job training if it meets requirements.

FAA Approved Training School

This is the preferred option for becoming an aircraft mechanic. Attending a FAA approved trade school (a “147 school” which is in accordance with 14 CFR part 147) will help you get the required education and real world experience you need to be successful.

The below are some basics you can expect from a trade school experience:

  • 400 hours of aircraft fundamentals
  • 750 hours of airframe classes
  • 750 hours of powerplant classes

On The Job Training

Another option is to gain experience with on the job training. It is important to note that there are very specific requirements to becoming a mechanic this way and you must always be under the watchful eye of a certified aircraft mechanic.

The one bonus to becoming an aviation mechanic this way is the savings of school costs.

  • If looking to become A& P certified you will need at least 30 months working in an aircraft mechanic position that is split between aircraft and powerplant skills.
  • If you only want to be A OR P certified you will need at least 18 months working in either aircraft or powerplant mechanics.
  • If you are military, some specialties offer training through the Joint Service Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council.
  • It is required that you document every on the job training hour in a log which should include task performed, time spent and signed off on by a certified airframe or powerplant technician.

Testing Requirements

  • 30 hours of experience or completion of a Part 147 FAA approved school
  • Written exam
  • Oral test
  • Practical test

Recommended Skills For Aircraft Mechanics

A love of planes and mechanics are just small pieces of what is needed to be successful in the aviation field!

Ensuring you have the traits and basic skills needed before you take this journey will help set you up for a successful career.

Detail Oriented

The ability to match parts to exact specifications is a critical for this career. Details as small as the exact tension a bolt should be are all in a days work.

Strength

Definitely not a job for the weak! Having some strength will go far with this job. From turning a wrench on very tight nuts and bolts to lifting big parts you will get a workout on most days.

Analytical Skills

Much of the job entails finding problems. It is important to have the ability to analyze noises and data to determine if things are working properly.

Coordination & Dexterity

Fine motor skills and coordination are a must – especially when dealing with those small parts and tools that are needed to repair or build airplane engines.

Pros & Cons Of Being An Aircraft Mechanic

PROS

  • Good earning potential
  • No advanced degree required
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Growing demand

CONS

  • Possibility of working nights and weekends
  • Physical strain on the body can result in issues as you age
  • Most jobs are near big cities
  • High pressure

How Much Do Aircraft Mechanics Make?

The average median salary for an aircraft technician was $66,440 as of May 2020.

Median means that half of the workers in the industry earned more and half earned less.

This range can vary based on location and experience.

Aircraft Mechanic Job Outlook

Growth/Decline Percentage: 12% increase from 2020 to 2030*
General Outlook: Excellent

The general outlook for aircraft mechanics is on the rise by quite a bit.

The growth of air travel has been steady and consistent over the years with an increase in that growth expected. Post COVID air traffic passenger demand was up 18% in 2021 and expected to grow more in 2022.

This makes a career in the aviation sector a great option for job security.

Aircraft Mechanic Work Environment

The traditional aircraft mechanic work environment will include working in an aircraft hangar or a shop environment. On occasion you might find yourself working in an open airfield as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about this career. If you have other questions that are not listed here – please email us or leave a comment below and we will be sure to add it!

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about this career. If you have other questions that are not listed here – please email us or leave a comment below and we will be sure to add it!

How much do plane mechanics make?

The median salary for a plane mechanic is $66,680. The lowest 10% of workers in this career make less than $38,970 and the highest 10% earn more than $103,880.

How many years does it take to become an aircraft mechanic?

It takes approximately 2 years to become an aircraft mechanic. The time will vary based on the path you take, but if you attend a FAA approved school you can expect it to take approximately 2 years.

Are aircraft mechanics in demand?

Yes! There is a shortage of qualified aircraft mechanics and the demand is growing every year.

*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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