Aviation maintenance technicians perform routine maintenance and repairs on aircraft. They tend to be among the highest-paid mechanics, earning an average of $55,690 per year as of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because the Federal Aviation Administration requires all aircraft mechanics to meet certain requirements, a career as an aviation mechanic may require more preparation than most other mechanic jobs. The BLS estimates that avionics and aircraft technician jobs will increase by 2 percent -- approximately 3,500 jobs -- between 2012 and 2022, which is lower than the 11 percent average for all occupations.
Meet the Basic Requirements
The FAA requires all aircraft mechanics to be at least 18 years of age before they can work on planes. In addition, a prospective mechanic must either be a United States citizen or provide a passport and proof that she has met the aircraft mechanic requirements in her native country. In addition, all aircraft mechanics who plan to work in the U.S. must prove they are able to speak and read English.
Get Educated or Experienced
The FAA requires that all aircraft mechanics either attend an FAA-approved school or have a certain amount of work experience in order to become certified. Before becoming certified, a mechanic can only work under the supervision of a certified mechanic. Those who wish to attend aircraft mechanic school must hold a high school or GED diploma and will typically spend one or two years completing the program. Alternatively, a mechanic may accumulate 18 months of working on engines, 18 months of working on airplane mainframes, or 30 months working on both to become certified. A mechanic certified in both power plant (engine) and mainframe repair will likely have a hiring advantage, according to the BLS.
Pass the Tests
Certification as an aircraft mechanic also requires candidates to pass a series of examinations. These tests have a written component but also measure your abilities and knowledge both orally and require you to demonstrate your proficiency by performing repairs in front of an examiner. Candidates must present proof of either experience or education before they are allowed to register and sit for the test.
Apply for Scholarships
If you plan to attend an aircraft mechanic school, be sure to apply for scholarships. Every bit helps, and funding is available from a variety of sources, such as the $5,000 American Airlines Aircraft Maintenance Technology Scholarship, the $5,000 Delta Air Lines Aircraft Maintenance Technology Scholarship and the Pratt & Whitney Maintenance Scholarships, valued at between $800 and $3,200. The Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance also offers scholarship assistance specifically for women pursuing schooling in aircraft maintenance.
- Federal Aviation Administration: Basic Requirements to Become an Aircraft Mechanic
- Federal Aviation Administration: Experience Requirements to Become an Aviation Mechanic
- Federal Aviation Administration: Aircraft Mechanic Oral, Practical, & Written Tests
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
- Women in Aviation International: Scholarships Offered for 2013
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians