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Aviation Technician Career Guide

What is an aviation technician?

An aviation technician is someone who works on all sorts of aircraft, like airplanes and helicopters. They do more than just fix engines—they handle a bunch of different systems, including electrical, hydraulic, and even the techy bits like avionics and the aircraft’s structure. Their job is super important for keeping aircraft safe to fly and working well.

Duties and responsibilities

These technicians do regular checks and fix-ups on different types of aircraft. They follow rules set by aviation authorities and manufacturers to make sure everything’s in top shape. They use special tests and tools to find any issues and then fix or replace parts as needed.

They also fine-tune systems, test out repairs, and make sure every part of the aircraft meets industry standards. On top of all the hands-on work, they keep detailed records of what they do, which is crucial for safety and for keeping track of the aircraft’s health.

Work environment

Aviation technicians usually work in hangars, repair stations, or other maintenance spots. Some might work out on airstrips. It can be pretty noisy with all the machinery and aircraft around, so they often wear ear protection, gloves, and eye shields.

The job can be physically tough – think lifting heavy stuff, squeezing into tight spaces, or working up high. They often work in teams and communicate frequently with pilots, engineers, and officials.

Typical work hours

Their hours can really vary. In big airlines or places that run all the time, technicians might work shifts, including at night or on weekends, to keep the aircraft in good shape around the clock. They might work extra during busy times or for urgent repairs.

But, for those in smaller places or training schools, the hours can be more like a regular 9-to-5 job. Still, flexibility is key because keeping aircraft safe and ready is a 24/7 job.

How to become an aviation technician

Becoming an aviation technician involves acquiring the necessary education, experience, and certifications. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Step 1: Finish high school

Start with a high school diploma or equivalent. Focus on math, physics, and computer science – they’re the building blocks for what comes next.

Step 2: Go to aviation maintenance tech school

Next, enroll in a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These programs, usually lasting 18 to 24 months, cover everything from engines to aircraft structures and FAA rules.

Step 3: Get hands-on experience

Roll up your sleeves and tackle the practical side. You can gain experience through part of your school program, internships, or entry-level jobs. This real-world practice is critical.

Step 4: Get FAA certified

To legally work on aircraft, you’ll need FAA certification, which involves passing written, oral, and practical exams. Most techs choose the Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) certification, which covers most parts of an aircraft.

Step 5: Land a job

With your certification in hand, start job hunting. Look for opportunities with airlines, aircraft manufacturers, or maintenance repair facilities.

Step 6: Keep learning

The aviation world is always changing, so keep learning. Consider additional certifications like the FAA’s Inspection Authorization (IA) for conducting inspections. Stay sharp by attending workshops, courses, and seminars.

Here are some excellent online courses for extra knowledge:

Step 7: Pick a specialty

Once you’ve got some experience, consider specializing in something like jet engines or avionics. Specializing can make you stand out and potentially lead to better-paying jobs.

How much do aviation technicians make?

Aviation technician salaries can be influenced by location, experience, education, industry, and company size. Certification in certain areas can significantly impact their income as well. Some techs may also receive additional compensation through bonuses or benefits.

Highest paying industries

  • Commercial Airlines: $75,000 
  • Government: $70,000
  • Military: $65,000 
  • General Aviation: $60,000 
  • Aircraft Manufacturing: $60,000

Highest paying states

  • Hawaii: $78,800
  • Nevada: $77,540
  • Connecticut: $77,110
  • Washington: $76,230
  • Alaska: $75,680

Browse aviation technician salary data by market

Types of aviation technicians

  • Aircraft maintenance technician: AMTs are the all-rounders, working on engines, frames, and even high-tech avionics systems. Their job is to do regular check-ups, fix things, and make sure the aircraft is safe and ready to fly.
  • Avionics technician: They’re the tech wizards of the aviation world, focusing on electronic systems like navigation and communication. Avionics technicians make sure the plane’s tech is top-notch and working smoothly.
  • Airframe technician: Think of airframe technicians as aircraft doctors. They look after the aircraft’s body – the fuselage, wings, and landing gear – keeping everything in good shape and structurally sound.
  • Powerplant technician: Powerplant techs are engine experts. Whether it’s a jet or a piston engine, they know how to keep it humming and in perfect working order.
  • Line service technician: Also known as ground service techs, they are the backstage crew. They handle the on-ground needs of aircraft, like refueling, towing, and prepping them for takeoff.
  • Inspection authorized technician: With extra certification, IA technicians do detailed inspections and approve big changes or repairs on aircraft. They’re the quality check experts.
  • Aircraft electrical system technician: These techs focus on keeping the lights on – literally. They handle the electrical systems, including lighting, wiring, and batteries, ensuring everything’s powered correctly.
  • Aircraft sheet metal technician: These technicians work with metal to build and fix aircraft parts. Using special tools, they shape and mend metal components to keep the aircraft tough and ready.

Top skills for aviation technicians

  • Maintenance and repair expertise: They must know how to maintain and repair different aircraft parts to keep flights safe and reliable.
  • Dexterity and physical stamina: Technicians need to be good with their hands, strong enough to work in tight spaces or up high, and handle long hours on their feet.
  • Attention to detail: Aircraft systems are complicated, and even a tiny mistake can be a big deal. Technicians have to be super careful to catch and fix any issues early on.
  • Problem-solving skills: Often, they face tricky problems that need smart solutions. Being good at problem-solving means they can figure out what’s wrong and come up with effective ways to fix it.
  • Clear communication: It’s not just about working with machines; technicians must also be clear communicators. They have to explain issues and repairs to pilots, engineers, and other team members to keep everyone on the same page and maintain safety.

Aviation technician career path

Gain experience

After school, start working as an entry-level tech. You’ll be under the guidance of experienced pros, doing basic maintenance and repairs. This is also when you work on getting your FAA certification through exams.

Move up to complex roles

With a few years under your belt, you can take on bigger challenges. You might start working on more complicated repairs or specialize in certain types of aircraft or systems. Proving you’re good at your job and safe can lead to becoming a senior tech who oversees others.

Leadership positions

Eventually, you can aim for management positions like lead technician, supervisor, or maintenance manager. Here, you’re the boss, ensuring everything runs smoothly and safely and leading a team of technicians.

Remember, every step on this path is about growing your skills and climbing up in aviation maintenance. So buckle up and enjoy the journey! 

  • Digital technology: Modern aircraft are packed with complex electronics for navigation and radio comms. Technicians need to be sharp with these digital systems.
  • Drone zone: Drones are the new kids on the block. They’re opening up a whole new area in maintenance that needs specialized skills.

Employment projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says jobs for aircraft mechanics and service technicians will grow by 6% through 2031. Even though aircraft are getting more reliable and need less frequent servicing, regular maintenance is still a must. This ongoing need is what will fuel job growth in this field.

Aviation technician career tips

Stay technologically savvy

Aircraft tech is always changing. Keep up with new systems and updates by reading trade magazines, joining webinars, and attending industry events.

Know different aircraft inside out

The more types of aircraft you know, the better. Learn about different manufacturers, models, and systems. Grab every chance to work on various types and attend training for new models.

Be a whiz with diagnostic tools

Modern aircraft need modern tools. Get good at using diagnostic software and tools for top-notch troubleshooting and repairs. Stay updated on the latest tools and tech.

Safety first

In aviation, safety can’t be overstated. Know the safety rules like the back of your hand. Attend safety trainings and always make safety your top priority.

Build your network

Networking is super useful. You can share tips, find jobs, and keep up with news. Join groups like the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) or the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) to connect with other pros.

Never stop learning

The aviation world moves fast. Keep learning new things, from advanced avionics to engine overhaul techniques. Courses, workshops, and extra certifications can boost your skills and value.

Cultivate precision and attention to detail

Even tiny mistakes can be a big deal in aircraft maintenance. Work on being precise and paying close attention to every little thing. Regular checks and reviews of your work can help you get better and better.

Where the aviation technician jobs are

Top companies

  • Boeing
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Raytheon Technologies
  • General Electric Aviation

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Washington
  • Alabama

Top job sites

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


What qualifications are needed to become an aviation technician?

You must complete a program at a FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school. After completing the program, individuals must pass the FAA certification exams. Good physical condition, manual dexterity, and troubleshooting skills are also beneficial.

What kind of training does an aviation technician typically undergo?

Training usually involves classroom learning on electronics, aviation physics, and aircraft construction. Post-certification, on-the-job training under experienced technicians is common, as is continuous learning to keep up with new technology.

What are the essential skills of an aviation technician?

Essential skills include mechanical dexterity, attention to detail, and the ability to diagnose and fix issues efficiently. They should be adept in using various tools and diagnostic equipment and have good communication skills.

What does a typical day look like for an aviation technician?

A typical day can include inspecting aircraft systems, diagnosing issues, and carrying out repairs or maintenance. These tasks can involve anything from routine service checks to in-depth troubleshooting. They also need to maintain detailed records of their work.

What are the primary responsibilities of an aviation technician?

Responsible for maintaining and repairing aircraft, they conduct regular inspections, identify and troubleshoot issues, and perform maintenance and repairs. Detailed records of inspections and maintenance work are kept to ensure regulatory compliance.

What industries employ aviation technicians?

The airline industry is the primary employer across commercial airlines, cargo airlines, and private jet operators. They may also work for companies that provide aircraft maintenance services, such as government agencies or the military. Some work for organizations or companies that operate self-owned aircraft.

What is the role of an aviation technician in ensuring flight safety?

Through regular inspections and maintenance, technicians help ensure that aircraft operate correctly. They are responsible for identifying and fixing issues that could affect the aircraft’s safety.

How does an aviation technician collaborate with other aviation professionals?

Technicians work closely with various other professionals in the aviation industry, including pilots, flight engineers, and aircraft manufacturers. They communicate regularly to understand and address issues with aircraft.

What challenges do aviation technicians often encounter?

Some challenges they face include dealing with complex mechanical issues, working in potentially hazardous conditions, and keeping up with advancements in aircraft technology.

How does an aviation technician stay updated with new methods and technologies in aviation?

Technicians might participate in training programs offered by aircraft manufacturers or other industry organizations to keep up with the latest methods and technologies. They must also keep FAA certification current, which requires ongoing education. Additionally, many read industry publications, attend conferences, and participate in online forums or communities to learn about new advancements and best practices.