The contributions of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians are immeasurably important to the safety of flight passengers everywhere. Aircraft mechanic schools strive to prepare students for a career in this field by teaching them how to repair and maintain aircraft to meet standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), certain types of specialized training can prepare individuals to work on certain parts of an aircraft or become an expert in inspections, airworthiness or the electronic components of an airplane.
As the BLS notes, modern aircraft are highly specialized pieces of machinery which require quality care and service in order to remain operable and fly safely. Because of the complexity of today's aircraft, aviation mechanic schools often let students focus on a specialization, including the following, according to the BLS:
- Airframe and powerplant mechanics serve as generalist mechanics who are qualified to do basic maintenance and repairs
- Avionics technicians repair and maintain a plane's electronic instruments
- Designated airworthiness representatives (DARs) examine aircraft to determine airworthiness and that all safety standards have been met
- Inspection authorized mechanics complete comprehensive maintenance and perform inspections of aircraft
- Repairmen work for a specific airline or hub with authorization to do only specific repairs
Aircraft and avionics certifications and degrees
According to the BLS, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians typically need a certification from the FAA. However, education usually begins with attendance at any number of certified aviation mechanic schools. In these programs, students learn the basics of aircraft use and management and typically earn an associate degree or certificate of completion in the process.
Upon completion of a program at aircraft mechanic schools, students typically pursue an FAA certification in their area of interest. According to the BLS, the FAA offers separate certifications for body work and engine work. However, aviation technicians must apply for a separate certification through the National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies. Inspection Authorization (IA) certification may also be available for students who meet certain requirements.
Aircraft and avionics salary and career outlook
Because some types of newer aircraft require less maintenance, the BLS expects very moderate increases in job prospects for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians. Specifically, the BLS expects a 3 percent increase in employment nationally for avionics technicians from 2012 to 2022, and a 2 percent increase for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians and aircraft mechanics and service technicians during the same timeframe. However, government data also indicates that some states may see greater increases in employment opportunities for these professionals from 2012 to 2022:
- North Dakota. 43 percent
- Montana. 33.4 percent
- Louisiana. 23.9 percent
- Wyoming. 23.5 percent
- Nevada. 20.6 percent
If you're interested in learning about planes and other aircraft, aircraft mechanic schools can help prepare you for a career in this industry. And, in certain parts of the country, an investment in this kind of education might just be money well spent.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/aircraft-and-avionics-equipment-mechanics-and-technicians.htm
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians, Projections Central, Long-Term Occupational Projections, 2014, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm