How Do I Become an Airplane Mechanic?
There are three ways to earn Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification as an airplane mechanic. Although certification isn't legally required, it's generally used as a hiring criterion by employers in this field. Keep reading to learn how you can become an FAA-certified airframe, powerplant or airframe and powerplant mechanic. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Complete an FAA-Certified Educational Program
The first option for prospective airplane mechanics is enrollment in an aviation maintenance technician program that's been certified by the FAA. These programs are offered through various institutions, including vocational schools, community colleges, aviation schools, 4-year colleges and universities, and private training companies. Graduates generally are awarded a diploma or certificate in airframe mechanics, powerplant mechanics or both, though some postsecondary schools confer associate's degrees in these areas as well.
Students seeking an airframe rating will learn to inspect, repair and service airframe systems and structures, as well as repair and replace airframe systems components, while those pursuing a powerplant rating will learn to perform the same duties on powerplant systems and structures. All students will be taught to document maintenance and service operations and repairs according to FAA standards.
These programs generally take 12-24 months to complete. The FAA notes that airplane mechanics who choose this route tend to draw higher starting salaries than those who opt for other ways of training.
Important Facts About Airplane Mechanics
|Median Salary (2014)||$56,990 ('for aircraft mechanics and service technicians')|
|Job Outlook||2% growth|
|Key Skills||Detail oriented, observational, problem solving, coordination, agility, repair knowledge, time management, quality control|
|Similar Occupations||Aerospace engineering, automotive body and glass repairs, automotive service mechanic, computer, ATM, and office machine repairer, electrician, mechanical engineering technician, network and computer systems administrator|
Work at an FAA Repair Station
Another path prospective airplane mechanics can take is working under an FAA-certified mechanic at an FAA repair station or fixed-base operator. Eighteen months of supervised work experience is required for an airframe or powerplant certificate, or both can be earned over 30 months. The FAA requires documentation of experience, which can include pay stubs or a log book endorsed by the supervisor.
Join the Military
Training for prospective airplane mechanics also is available through several occupational specialties in the U.S. military. However, those who chose this route can't apply their training time when applying for FAA certification; they can only count time they spent working in their military occupational specialty after training was completed.
Pass the Requisite Tests
Once he or she has completed training, an aspiring airplane mechanic must pass three types of exams to complete the FAA certification process. These include 2-3 written exams (a general knowledge exam and airframe and/or powerplant exams), as well as oral and practical tests.
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