What is an avionics technician?
An avionics technician is a specialized professional who focuses on installing, maintaining, repairing, and troubleshooting avionic systems and components in aircraft. Avionic systems encompass the electronic systems used in aircraft for communication, navigation, flight control, and other essential functions. They can work for airlines, aircraft maintenance companies, aircraft manufacturers, or government agencies, such as the military or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
This profession requires strong technical, analytical, and problem-solving skills and a deep understanding of avionic systems and maintenance practices. Proficiency in using specialized tools and equipment, interpreting technical manuals, and adhering to strict safety regulations and industry standards is essential. These technicians often work closely with other aviation maintenance professionals, such as airframe mechanics, engine mechanics, and inspectors, to ensure the overall safety and airworthiness of aircraft.
Duties and responsibilities
An avionics technician’s primary duties and responsibilities include inspecting, maintaining, and repairing avionic systems and components in aircraft. This involves performing routine system inspections, diagnosing and troubleshooting issues, repairing or replacing faulty components, and calibrating or testing avionic systems to ensure proper functionality.
Their responsibilities may also include installing new avionic systems, documenting maintenance and repair activities, and ensuring compliance with applicable safety regulations and industry standards. Staying up to date with advancements in avionic technology, maintenance practices, and relevant regulations ensures that skills and knowledge remain current and relevant.
Avionics technicians typically work in hangars, repair stations, or other specialized facilities dedicated to aircraft maintenance. The work environment can be noisy and include exposure to various weather conditions, chemicals, and other hazards associated with aircraft maintenance. Their tasks can be physically demanding as they may require lifting heavy components, working in confined spaces, or standing for extended periods.
These professionals may also be required to travel to different locations based on the needs of their employer and specific job requirements. For example, it may be necessary to provide on-site support at airports or other facilities where aircraft are stationed.
Typical work hours
The typical work hours for avionics technicians will vary by employer and specific job requirements. Many work a standard 40-hour workweek, Monday through Friday. They may occasionally need to work evenings, weekends, or holidays to address urgent maintenance issues or meet project deadlines.
How to become an avionics technician
To become an avionics technician, you must complete specialized training, obtain relevant certifications, and gain hands-on experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Complete a relevant education program
Begin your journey by completing a relevant educational program, such as a FAA-approved aviation maintenance technician school (AMTS) that offers specialized training in avionics systems. Alternatively, you may pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in avionics, electronics, aviation maintenance, or a related field.
Step 2: Obtain the necessary certifications
Certification is a requirement for avionics technicians. The FAA offers Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certification, the industry standard for aircraft mechanics in the United States. Though not explicitly focused on avionics, an A&P certification can help demonstrate your general knowledge of aircraft maintenance.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also offers the General Radiotelephone Operator License (GROL), a valuable certification for those working with communication and navigation systems.
Earning these certifications requires passing examinations and demonstrating knowledge of the relevant subject matter.
Step 3: Gain hands-on experience
Hands-on experience is crucial for developing the skills and knowledge required to become a proficient technician. Seek opportunities to gain experience through internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level positions in the aviation industry. Working under the supervision of experienced technicians will provide valuable insights into the daily responsibilities and challenges of maintaining and repairing aircraft avionic systems.
Step 4: Develop specialized skills
You must develop various specialized skills, such as troubleshooting, problem-solving, and attention to detail. A strong understanding of avionic systems, components, and diagnostic techniques is crucial for success. Familiarize yourself with the specific tools, equipment, and procedures used in avionics maintenance and repair.
Step 5: Stay current with industry regulations and advancements
Staying up to date with industry regulations and advancements is essential for these professionals. Regularly review and thoroughly understand FAA regulations, safety procedures, and any changes that may affect your work. Stay informed about advancements in avionic technology and maintenance techniques by attending industry conferences and pursuing continuing education opportunities.
Here are some of the options available for continuing education:
- Udemy’s course, Aircraft Maintenance: Understanding the FARs, covers Title 14 CFR parts 1, 3, 65, and 91. Learn the CFR privileges or limitations and the requirements to become an AMT.
- Flight Mechanics: From Theory to Certification of Aircraft offers an industry-like experience for approaching modeling theory, aircraft simulation, flight dynamics, and certification.
- Develop skills for drawing aerospace-grade diagrams with Avionics: How to Draw Wiring Diagrams. The course includes navigating aircraft certification regulations, navigating military specifications, and writing aircraft certification reports.
- With the Advanced Concepts Ancient Aeronautics and Aerospace Technology course, you will study ancient Vedic texts and models with renowned aeronautical engineer and author Kavya Vaddadi.
Step 6: Network and seek career growth opportunities
Networking within the aviation industry can help you discover job opportunities, learn from experienced professionals, and advance your career. Join professional associations, attend industry events, and maintain connections with colleagues and mentors. Continuously seek professional development and advancement opportunities, such as pursuing additional certifications, specializing in specific avionic systems, or moving into supervisory or management roles within aviation maintenance.
How much do avionics technicians make?
The compensation for avionics technicians can vary depending on factors such as geographic location, level of education, years of experience, industry, and company size.
Highest paying industries
- Aerospace: $76,890
- Scheduled Air Transportation: $69,580
- Nonscheduled Air Transportation: $68,450
- Federal Executive Branch: $68,120
- Support Activities for Air Transportation: $67,770
Highest paying states
- Alaska: $84,390
- New Jersey: $79,900
- Connecticut: $77,650
- Massachusetts: $75,390
- California: $74,930
Types of avionics technicians
In this career guide section, we will explore the different types of avionics technicians, shedding light on their unique responsibilities and areas of focus.
Line maintenance avionics technician
Aircraft electronic systems, including navigation, communication, and other electronic components, must be maintained in good working order. Line maintenance technicians perform routine maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair to ensure all systems function correctly and safely.
Bench avionics technician
Aircraft electronic systems are sometimes removed from aircraft for repair at the bench. Specialized testing equipment and software are used to diagnose and repair radio transmitters, radar systems, and navigation systems.
Installation avionics technician
Installation technicians work with engineers, project managers, and other technicians to plan and execute the installation of new electronic systems. This role includes ensuring that systems are integrated correctly and that necessary certifications and approvals are obtained.
Avionics systems engineer
New navigation, communication, and flight control systems are designed as technology advances. These engineers collaborate with technicians and product managers to develop, test, and ensure new systems meet safety, regulatory, and performance requirements.
Flight test avionics technician
If working high in the sky sounds appealing, consider becoming a flight test technician. While an aircraft is in flight, you will work alongside engineers and pilots to ensure onboard systems function correctly and handle new installations, troubleshooting, or repairs to existing systems.
Training and development in electronics systems installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair are necessary for all technicians, regardless of their experience level. Interest in developing courses, teaching, or providing on-the-job training and mentorship is a good fit for an instructor position.
Top skills for avionics technicians
This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as an avionics technician.
Proficiency in aircraft avionics systems
Proficiency in aircraft avionics systems is needed to install, maintain, and repair avionic components on aircraft. Familiarity with different avionic systems, such as navigation, communication, radar, and flight control systems, and each system’s specific maintenance and calibration requirements, are also necessary for these professionals.
Strong troubleshooting abilities
Diagnosing and resolving avionics malfunctions or performance issues requires strong troubleshooting abilities. Skills in using specialized tools and equipment, such as oscilloscopes, signal generators, and avionics test equipment, help to identify and address problems accurately and efficiently.
Technicians often collaborate with other maintenance professionals, pilots, and aviation authorities or relay information about issues, repairs, or inspection findings. This requires strong communication skills, including listening and incorporating feedback from colleagues or clients.
Attention to detail
Strong attention to detail helps to maintain the accuracy and quality of maintenance or repair work. Careful, meticulous inspections ensure all components are properly installed, adjusted, and tested.
Strict adherence to safety procedures
Strict adherence to safety procedures ensures that their work meets strict safety and regulatory requirements. This includes following established maintenance protocols, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and staying current with industry standards and regulations.
Avionics technician career path
The career path of an avionics technician typically begins with education and training in avionics technology, often through a vocational school, community college, or a FAA-approved program. Aspiring technicians can gain hands-on experience in avionics systems, repair, and troubleshooting by starting as apprentices, trainees, or junior technicians.
A solid track record of success and experience allows for progression into leadership roles, such as avionics supervisor, avionics manager, or quality control inspector, where responsibilities include overseeing the entire avionics function of an organization, managing avionics teams, and ensuring the overall safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of avionics operations.
As they gain experience and demonstrate strong performance, these professionals may advance to more senior roles, such as lead technician, which includes more complex tasks and responsibilities for installing, maintaining, and repairing avionics systems, overseeing maintenance teams, and ensuring compliance with FAA regulations and safety standards.
Additionally, some may specialize in a specific aircraft or avionics system, work for specific types of airlines or charter companies, or transition into related fields, such as avionics engineering or sales.
Similar job titles
Avionics technician position trends and outlook
According to the trade publication Industry Week, increasing advancements in aviation technology are a major trend that will impact the aviation industry in the coming years. Specifically, conversions to new, more efficient electronics require avionics technicians to stay educated on the latest technological improvements.
Another trend in the aviation and aerospace industry is the need for new aircraft. Whether it’s mature markets looking to replace aging aircraft or companies seeking more modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, many companies are looking to replace their fleets. This could increase job opportunities for design and manufacturing rather than for repair and maintenance.
Employment projections for avionics technicians
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians, which includes avionics technicians, is projected to grow by 6% through 2031. This growth is about as fast as the average for all occupations and is driven by the ongoing demand for air travel that requires skilled professionals for maintenance and repair.
Avionics technician career tips
Obtain relevant education and credentials
To become an avionics technician, you need a high school diploma or equivalent and relevant vocational or technical training. Consider attending an avionics maintenance technician school or program approved by the FAA. Pursuing an associate degree in avionics technology, electronics, or computer science can benefit career advancement. An A&P certificate from the FAA demonstrates expertise and eligibility to work on aircraft.
Gain hands-on experience
Practical experience is crucial for developing skills in avionics maintenance and repair. Work as an apprentice, junior technician, or assistant technician to gain exposure to various aspects of avionics maintenance, such as inspections, servicing, testing, and troubleshooting.
Develop strong analytical and problem-solving skills
Technicians must possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills to identify and fix avionics problems effectively. Hone these skills by working in real-world maintenance scenarios, participating in case studies, or pursuing additional training in avionics analysis and diagnosis.
Enhance your technical proficiency
Specialized tools and equipment are used to repair and maintain aircraft electronics systems. To diagnose and troubleshoot issues accurately and efficiently, become proficient in relevant technologies such as radar, communication, and navigation systems.
Focus on safety and compliance
Strict safety and regulatory standards ensure aircraft electronics systems comply with industry regulations. Familiarize yourself with relevant laws, regulations, and guidelines, such as the FAA regulations and maintenance standards, to ensure that your work meets professional standards.
Cultivate strong communication and interpersonal skills
Effective communication and interpersonal skills are essential for collaborating with other technicians, engineers, and pilots. Develop your verbal and written communication skills to convey information clearly and professionally. Additionally, hone your interpersonal skills to build rapport with team members, clients, and other stakeholders.
Pursue continuing education and professional development
To stay competitive and advance your career, engage in continuing education and professional development opportunities. Attend workshops, conferences, and seminars to stay informed about new trends, technologies, and best practices.
Build a professional network
Networking is essential for career growth and staying informed about job opportunities and industry trends. Connect with other avionics technicians, engineers, and industry experts through local meetups or membership in professional associations, such as:
- Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA)
- National Air Transportation Association (NATA)
- Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA)
- Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC)
Where the avionics technician jobs are
- Lockheed Martin
- The Boeing Company
- Northrop Grumman
- Raytheon Technologies
- General Dynamics
Top job sites
What are the educational requirements for an avionics technician?
To become an avionics technician, you typically need to complete a formal education program, such as a two-year associate degree or a certification program in avionics or electronics technology from an accredited institution. You may also gain relevant experience through military training or apprenticeships. Obtaining an FAA A&P certificate is beneficial but only sometimes required for specific jobs.
What industries employ avionics technicians?
Avionics technicians can find employment in various industries, including commercial airlines, cargo airlines, general aviation, aerospace manufacturing, and military aviation. They may work for aircraft maintenance and repair companies, airports, or directly for aircraft operators.
What skills are essential for an avionics technician?
Essential skills include strong electrical and electronic aptitude, attention to detail, problem-solving abilities, and manual dexterity. Good communication skills and the ability to work well under pressure are required, as safety and accuracy are critical in the aviation industry. Knowledge of aircraft systems, avionics equipment, and maintenance procedures is also important.
What are the typical daily tasks of an avionics technician?
Daily tasks may include inspecting aircraft avionics systems and components, performing routine maintenance, troubleshooting and repairing issues, and testing system performance. Other responsibilities may include installing new avionics equipment, documenting maintenance activities, adhering to safety regulations, and staying current with technical updates and industry standards.
How can I stand out when applying for avionics technician positions?
To stand out when applying for positions, ensure your resume and cover letter highlight your education, relevant experience, and any additional certifications or specializations. Emphasize your knowledge of specific avionics systems or aircraft models and your ability to work in a team and handle high-pressure situations. Networking through industry events, conferences, and online platforms can connect you with potential employers and learn about job openings.
What are the opportunities for career advancement for avionics technicians?
You can advance as an avionics technician by gaining experience with various avionics systems and aircraft models, pursuing additional certifications or specializations, and developing strong leadership and communication skills. You may progress to supervisory or managerial roles, such as lead technician, avionics supervisor, or avionics manager. After obtaining the necessary qualifications, you may transition to related positions, such as quality control inspector or aviation safety inspector.
What are the typical working hours for an avionics technician?
Working hours can vary depending on the employer and location and may include standard daytime hours or shift work, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Aircraft maintenance is often performed around the clock to minimize downtime and ensure operational efficiency. Sometimes, you may be required to work overtime to address urgent maintenance issues or to complete repairs within tight deadlines.
Is it possible to work as a freelance avionics technician?
Freelance work is possible, but finding consistent work and building a steady client base can be challenging. Freelance technicians may work on a contract basis for aircraft maintenance companies, smaller airlines, or general aviation operators. To succeed as a freelance avionics technician, you should have a strong network within the industry, excellent technical skills, and the ability to market your services effectively. You must manage your finances, negotiate contracts, and communicate well with clients. You may also specialize in a specific avionics system or aircraft model to build a reputation and attract clients in that niche.