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Aircraft Electrician Career Guide

What is an aircraft electrician?

An aircraft electrician is a pro who works with all the electrical systems on airplanes. They’re super important in the aviation world because they make sure planes are safe to fly. Without them, the electrical parts of a plane, like the lights, navigation, and communication systems, wouldn’t work properly, which could really mess up flight schedules and safety.

Duties and responsibilities

Aircraft electricians have a bunch of important jobs. They check and test different electrical parts of the plane, like the systems that help pilots navigate and communicate. If something’s broken, they figure out what’s wrong, fix it, or swap out the faulty part. They often use maintenance manuals and technical guides to help them do their job right.

Work environment

Most aircraft electricians work at hangars, repair stations, or on airfields. Sometimes, they have to work in tight spaces or up high, and they always need to follow strict safety rules. They often work alongside other aircraft tech pros like mechanics and engineers.

Typical work hours

Aircraft electricians usually work full-time, but their hours can be pretty flexible. They might work nights, weekends, or holidays, especially at big airports that operate all the time. Sometimes, they need to work extra hours or be ready to come in at a moment’s notice if a quick fix is needed on a plane or if there’s an emergency.

How to become an aircraft electrician

Interested in keeping airplanes running with your electrical skills? Here’s how you can start your journey to becoming an aircraft electrician:

Step 1: Finish high school

Your first step is getting your high school diploma or equivalent, focusing on math, physics, and electronics. These subjects will give you the basic technical skills you need.

Step 2: Get hands-on training

After high school, you can jump into the field by getting hands-on training through vocational programs. These programs, which usually last 1 to 2 years, teach you all about aircraft electrical systems.

Step 3: Complete an apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a great way to learn while working under the guidance of experienced professionals. Lasting about 3 to 4 years, this will combine classroom lessons with real-world practice.

Step 4: Get certified

You’ll need certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work as an aircraft electrician. The Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) certification is a common one, requiring you to pass an exam that covers aviation electronics.

Step 5: Gain work experience

Start working in entry-level jobs at aircraft manufacturing companies, airlines, or in military services. This is where you’ll really sharpen your skills and deepen your knowledge.

Step 6: Keep learning and earning certifications

As you gain more experience, look into additional certifications and training. This could be getting an avionics technician certification or taking specific courses that focus on certain types of aircraft or systems. 

Online courses in aerospace engineering or urban air mobility can also broaden your understanding and skills.

Step 7: Apply for jobs and nail your interviews

With the right education and experience, you’ll be ready to apply for aircraft electrician jobs. Make sure your resume is top-notch, and practice for interviews by looking up common questions and preparing your answers.

How much do aircraft electricians make?

Several factors, including location, education, experience, company size, and industry, can influence the salary of an aircraft electrician. More specialized skills or certifications, such as those in avionics, can also result in higher pay. Additionally, overtime work, particularly during peak maintenance periods, can increase their earnings.

Highest paying industries

  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing: $77,890
  • Scheduled Air Transportation: $77,240
  • Federal Executive Branch: $75,990
  • Support Activities for Air Transportation: $75,680
  • Electrical Equipment Manufacturing: $74,710

Highest paying states

  • Alaska: $80,150
  • Nevada: $78,390
  • Hawaii: $77,820
  • Washington: $77,710
  • California: $77,400

Browse aircraft electrician salary data by market

Types of aircraft electricians

  • General aircraft electrician: These are the all-rounders who work on various parts of a plane’s electrical systems, like power distribution and communication systems. They install new parts, figure out problems, and do regular check-ups to keep everything running smoothly.
  • Avionics technician: Avionics technicians specialize in the high-tech parts of aircraft, like navigation systems and communication tools. They need to keep up with the latest tech to ensure everything in the cockpit works perfectly and safely, whether on airplanes, spacecraft, or satellites.
  • Military aircraft electrician: These electricians work on military aircraft, such as fighter jets and transport planes. They handle the regular electrical tasks but also deal with special military equipment. 
  • Helicopter electrician: Helicopters work a bit differently from planes, so they need electricians who know their unique systems inside out. These experts take care of helicopter-specific parts, like the lighting and communication systems.
  • Senior aircraft electrician: Senior aircraft electricians have lots of experience and know a lot about aircraft electrical systems. They do the usual electrician tasks but also lead other electricians. 

Top skills for aircraft electricians

  • Deep understanding of electrical systems: Aircraft electricians need to really know their way around electrical systems. Understanding how these complex parts work together is crucial for keeping planes flying safely and efficiently.
  • Attention to detail: Precision is critical in this job because even small mistakes can lead to big problems. Electricians must be thorough in their work, always double-checking everything and catching any issues before they become serious. 
  • Manual dexterity: Working on an aircraft often means squeezing into tight spaces and handling small, delicate parts. Using your hands skillfully is essential for installing and fixing electrical systems safely and effectively.
  • Problem-solving skills: When electrical issues arise, these electricians need to think on their feet. They must be able to diagnose problems in complex systems and figure out the best ways to fix them. 
  • Adherence to safety standards: The aviation industry has very strict safety rules. They must know these rules well and follow them closely. 

Aircraft electrician career path options

Start with education and training 

Most kick off their careers by attending an FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. Some might also start with an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. These initial steps are crucial as they lay the foundation for a strong understanding of aircraft electrical systems.

Entry-level positions 

After training, the first jobs might include roles like an assistant aircraft electrician or a general aircraft maintenance technician. These positions are great for getting hands-on experience and learning more about the specifics of different aircraft.

Become a certified aircraft electrician 

As you gain skills and expertise, you can move up to become a fully qualified aircraft electrician. Many choose to get certified through the FAA by passing the required exams. This certification isn’t just a badge—it can lead to better job opportunities and higher pay.

Advance to senior or lead roles 

With several years under your belt, you might advance to senior or lead positions. Here, you could end up supervising other electricians, coordinating major maintenance projects, or serving as an expert consultant on complex electrical issues.

Step into management 

For those looking long-term, positions like maintenance supervisor, manager, or even maintenance director are potential goals. These roles involve managing entire maintenance departments, handling budgets, and making sure everything complies with aviation regulations. Some electricians further their education with degrees in aviation management to prepare for these high-level jobs.

  • Advancing systems: As technology continues to evolve, aircraft electrical systems are becoming more complex. These electricians need to constantly update their skills and knowledge to keep up with new tech.
  • Electric and hybrid-electric aircraft: There’s a growing shift toward electric and hybrid-electric aircraft, which is expected to expand in the years ahead. This shift is creating more demand for electricians who can work on these advanced aircraft.
  • Drones and unmanned aerial yehicles (UAVs): The rise of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles has opened up new opportunities for electricians. These devices also have complex electrical systems that require specialized expertise to maintain and repair.

Employment projections

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for aircraft electricians is looking positive, with an expected growth rate of 6% through 2031, which aligns with the average growth rate for all occupations. A significant portion of job openings will likely come from the need to replace electricians who retire or switch careers.

Aircraft electrician career tips

Prioritize safety

Safety is critical in aviation. Always stay informed about safety protocols and ensure you’re up-to-date with your training and certifications. A solid understanding of safety practices can be a lifesaver.

Build a professional network

Building connections can be incredibly beneficial. Join organizations like the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) or the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) to meet experts in your field, gain insights, and open doors to new opportunities.

Keep up with technology

Aircraft technology is constantly advancing. Stay on top of the latest developments in tools, techniques, and systems to keep your skills sharp and relevant.

Enhance your problem-solving skills

You’ll frequently face complex electrical issues. Developing strong problem-solving abilities will allow you to tackle these challenges more effectively.

Commit to continuous learning

The aviation industry evolves quickly, so continuous education is key. Look into advanced courses, attend seminars, and engage in training programs to stay ahead in your field.

Maintain physical fitness

The job often requires physical exertion, such as working in confined spaces or managing tasks at heights. Staying fit will help you perform these duties more efficiently.

Stay focused under pressure

Aircraft electricians often face tight deadlines and stressful situations. Learning to maintain your focus and composure during such times is essential for both safety and success.

Work well in teams

Collaboration is a huge part of aircraft maintenance. Being a good team player and working effectively with colleagues from various disciplines, like mechanics and engineers, can enhance job performance.

Understand and comply with regulations

Familiarity with FAA regulations and ensuring your work meets these standards is crucial. Compliance is not just about following rules—it’s about ensuring safety and reliability.

Be detail-oriented

In aircraft maintenance, even a small oversight can have serious repercussions. Paying close attention to detail is vital to make sure all aspects of your work are performed flawlessly.

Where the aircraft electrician jobs are

Top companies

  • Boeing
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Raytheon Technologies
  • General Dynamics

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Washington
  • Alabama

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Aviation Job Search
  • Aeroindustryjobs.com


What qualifications are required for an aircraft electrician?

They typically need a high school diploma or equivalent as a base qualification. However, technical training in avionics or a related field is often required, which can be achieved through a technical school or vocational college program. Additionally, electricians must understand schematics and technical manuals and have a strong base knowledge of systems and aviation requirements.

What type of certification is needed to become an aircraft electrician?

Certification requirements can vary by country. In the United States, the FAA issues an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate covering a broad range of aviation maintenance, including electrical systems. In addition, further specialized certifications in avionics can be beneficial.

What does a typical day look like for an aircraft electrician?

A typical day might involve inspecting and diagnosing issues with aircraft electrical systems, repairing or replacing faulty components, testing the functionality of repairs and installations, and maintaining records of inspections and work performed. Electricians might also consult aircraft maintenance manuals and schematics to guide their work.

What skills are important for an aircraft electrician?

They should have excellent problem-solving abilities, strong attention to detail, proficiency in understanding and following technical manuals and schematics, and strong mechanical aptitude. Good manual dexterity helps with intricate, precise tasks.

What safety considerations are important for an aircraft electrician?

Aircraft electricians must always adhere to safety regulations and standards, including wearing appropriate protective gear and following proper procedures for handling electrical systems. They should also be aware of potential hazards, such as working with high voltage systems or at heights on the aircraft.

Can an aircraft electrician specialize in certain types of aircraft?

Electricians can specialize in certain aircraft types, such as commercial airliners, helicopters, military aircraft, or private jets. Each aircraft type may have different electrical systems and requirements, and specialization can involve additional training and knowledge.

Do aircraft electricians work alone or as part of a team?

While these electricians may often work independently on specific tasks, they are typically part of a larger maintenance team. They must collaborate and communicate effectively with other team members, including maintenance specialists, engineers, and pilots.

What physical demands are associated with being an aircraft electrician?

The role can be physically demanding. It may involve lifting heavy equipment, confined spaces within aircraft, standing or bending for extended periods, and sometimes working at heights. Good physical fitness can be beneficial for the role.

What is the importance of precision in the work of an aircraft electrician?

Precision is critical in their work, as faulty wiring or incorrect installations can lead to severe safety issues. Paying close attention to detail and following technical schematics ensures that work meets high-quality standards.

Is continuous learning important for an aircraft electrician?

As technology evolves, aircraft electrical systems become increasingly complex and sophisticated. Staying updated with the latest advancements through ongoing training or professional development is essential for success in this role.