Airplanes are complex, high-performance machines, and it takes a special breed of mechanic to make sure they stay in top flying shape. Aviation mechanics or commonly known as, Aircraft mechanics, take on this vital responsibility, performing maintenance and repairs on the engines, hulls, wings, instruments and other parts of aircraft and aviation equipment.
Here's a quick list of tasks that aviation mechanics might perform on the job:
- Using diagnostic equipment to test aviation instruments and aircraft parts
- Closely examining all parts of an aircraft for mechanical and electrical problems
- Repairing or replacing defective parts and double-checking finished work
- Ensuring that maintenance procedures and equipment performance standards are being met
Most aircraft mechanics work at or near major airports or military aviation facilities, either in large hangar spaces or on the airfield itself.
Aircraft mechanic job outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), the number of aircraft mechanic careers in the U.S. is projected to increase by 2 percent between 2012 and 2022, leading to about 3,500 new jobs. Candidates with college degrees and up-to-date airframe and powerplant (A&P) certifications are expected to face the best job prospects, the BLS reports. Familiarity with computers and digital systems may also work in an applicant's favor.
Salary for aircraft mechanic careers
A report by the BLS indicates that the nationwide median annual salary for an aircraft mechanic was $55,980 in 2013. Here are the national average yearly 2013 wages reported for a few different industries that employ aviation mechanics:
- Aerospace product and parts manufacturing: $57,620
- Federal government, excluding postal service: $56,710
- Nonscheduled air transportation: $60,980
- Scheduled air transportation: $63,080
- Support activities for air transportation: $50,780
|Career||Projected Employment Change||Projected 2012-2022 Growth|
|Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians||1600||1.3%|
Salaries can vary by region, as well. Aircraft mechanics in Kentucky earned a median salary of $77,590 in 2013, the highest average for any state as reported by the BLS.
Aircraft mechanic career statistics
The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) reports that at least 97 percent of aviation mechanics employed in 2013 had at least a high school diploma, with 25 percent holding an associate degree and nearly two-thirds having earned a post-secondary training certificate.
Here are some top industries for aircraft mechanic jobs, along with 2013 BLS data showing the percentage of aircraft mechanics employed by each industry:
- Support activities for air transportation: 19.59 percent
- Scheduled air transportation: 6.24 percent
- Aerospace product and parts manufacturing: 3.63 percent
- Federal government, excluding postal service: 0.82 percent
- Nonscheduled air transportation: 14.78 percent
According to the BLS, 138,900 workers were employed as aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians in 2012.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/ooh/Installation-Maintenance-and-Repair/Aircraft-and-avionics-equipment-mechanics-and-technicians.htm
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493011.htm
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians, Occupational Information Network, 2013, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/49-3011.00