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How to Become an Aircraft Electrician

Choosing to become an aircraft electrician is a great choice since there are endless opportunities for job growth in the field. However, it is important to know that there are other alternatives for electricians working in residential or commercial types of environments. If you’re looking for a change of scenery, becoming an aircraft electrician may be the perfect fit for you.

Aircraft electricians play a critical role in making sure aircrafts are running properly and safely. Workers in this position are to become experts in lighting, pilot instrumentation, landing gear, and ignitions systems. Aircraft electricians are responsible for installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining various parts of these systems to keep the aircraft’s electrical system in order. 

To be successful in this position, you will need to have a firm understanding of electric codes, wiring systems, quality assurance, and safety procedures. This job requires problem-solving skills to properly diagnose and assess various electrical problems.

Sample job description

Air travel is used by thousands of people each day, and everyone expects the aircraft to be in top condition. Aircraft electricians play a key role as they inspect and repair aircrafts according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. An effective aircraft electrician will take pride in the quality of their workmanship and be able to work under difficult circumstances, such as on uneven surfaces, at heights, or where dust or fumes may be present.

[Your Company Name] is looking for someone with strength and stamina who can work alone or with a team and who can follow directions. You will need to be confident using personal protective equipment and have at least one year of experience in the field.  

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Monitor maintenance and inspection plans
  • Repair and maintain electrical systems as needed
  • Perform system testing to evaluate performance and functionality
  • Maintain inventory control of electrical components and tools
  • Recommend upgrades and modifications to improve system performance

Education and experience

  • An associate’s degree in aviation maintenance technology
  • Airframe and Powerplant License certificate from a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Required skills and qualifications

  • Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills
  • Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
  • Mechanical aptitude and ability to understand wiring diagrams and schematics
  • Strong hand-eye coordination and proficiency in using tools like soldering equipment
  • High-level organization skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Working knowledge of military, commercial, or general aviation aircraft
  • Reliability, communications skills, workmanship, and good judgment are essential traits
  • Bachelor’s degree or 3+ years of experience

Typical work environment

Most aircraft electricians will work in rotating 8-hour shifts and could be in hangars, airfields, or aircraft repair stations. The ability to handle heights as well as both hot and cold weather is essential. Aircraft electricians often need to wear personal protective equipment while also carrying tools and ascending ladders, scaffolding, and ramps. Aircraft electricians will be required to lift and move heavy objects, frequently stand up, sit down, and use repetitive hand motions.  

Typical hours

Aircraft electricians usually work rotating, 8-hour shifts. This means overnight, weekend, and holiday shifts are common within this field.

Available certifications

Most companies will need an aircraft electrician to increase sales, so many institutions offer different certifications to help. Check out the following: 

  • Avionics Electronics Technician (AVN) – This course tests those who work with installing and repairing electronic equipment and accessories in aircrafts. Topics covered include antennas, network topologies and infrastructures, optical cabling, and test equipment and tools. The test costs around $80 and the passing score is 75% or higher. This certification must be renewed every four years and requires two years of work experience. 
  • Certified Environmental Professional: Environmental Operations – This prestigious certification is for those who want to further their career in the environmental profession. It shows employers that you are someone with a history of excellence, knowledge, and experience. This is often awarded to someone who has a bachelor’s or more than nine years of experience. There is a mentor program available to applicants who would like to have a point of contact during their application process.  
  • Master Certified Electronics Technician (CETma) – This certification is available for aircraft technicians with six or more years of experience and is used to demonstrate proficiency to potential employers. A test score of 85% or higher is needed to be eligible for this certification. A renewal of the certification is required every year.

Career path

The path to becoming an aircraft electrician starts with earning an associate’s degree in aviation maintenance technology or an Airframe and Powerplant License certificate from a program approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Aircraft electricians can obtain a Radiotelephone Operator License from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or an Aircraft Electronics Technician (AET) certificate from the National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies (NCATT) to become more attractive to employers and advance in their careers.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 49-2091

2020 Employment21,200
Projected Employment in 203023,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 10% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift2,100 increase

According to the trade publication, Industry Week, one major trend impacting the aviation industry in the years to come is the increasing advancements in aviation technology. Specifically, the conversions to new, more efficient electronics systems in aircraft means aircraft electricians will need 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 airplanes or companies seeking more modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, many companies are looking to replace their fleets. That could mean an increase in job opportunities on the design and manufacturing side, rather than an increase in opportunities for repair and maintenance professionals.