Career Detail

Aircraft and Avionics Mechanic
“We keep them flying”
To keep aircraft in peak operating condition, aircraft and avionics mechanics and service technicians perform scheduled maintenance, make repairs, and complete inspections required by the FAA
The Job
Many aircraft mechanics specialize in preventive maintenance. They inspect aircraft engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections, accessories-brakes, valves, pumps, and air-conditioning systems, for example-and other parts of the aircraft, and do the necessary maintenance and replacement of parts. They also keep records related to the maintenance performed on the aircraft. Mechanics and technicians conduct inspections following a schedule based on the number of hours the aircraft has flown, calendar days since the last inspection, cycles of operation, or a combination of these factors. In large, sophisticated planes equipped with aircraft monitoring systems, mechanics can gather valuable diagnostic information from electronic boxes and consoles that monitor the aircraft's basic operations. In planes of all sorts, aircraft mechanics examine engines by working through specially designed openings while standing on ladders or scaffolds or by using hoists or lifts to remove the entire engine from the craft. After taking an engine apart, mechanics use precision instruments to measure parts for wear and use x-ray and magnetic inspection equipment to check for invisible cracks. They repair or replace worn or defective parts.
Work Environment
Mechanics work in hangars, repair stations, or out on the airfield on the "flight lines" where aircraft park. Mechanics often work under time pressure to maintain flight schedules or, in general aviat
College Majors
Most mechanics learn their skills in an FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technician School. College degree is not required. Courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, electronics, computer science
Minimum Qualifications
Most mechanics who work on civilian aircraft are certified by the FAA, which requires mechanics to be at least 18 years of age, fluent in English, and have a high school diploma or its equivalent in addition to having the needed technical skills. Most mechanics learn their skills in an FAA-certified
Personality traits helpful for this career
Aircraft mechanics must do careful and thorough work that requires a high degree of mechanical aptitude.
Quick Facts
  • Almost 3 in 10 aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and service technicians are members of unions or covered by union agreements.
  • Mechanics who work on jets for the major airlines generally earn more than those working on other aircraft.
Compensation and Outlook
Median hourly wages of aircraft mechanics and service technicians were about $24.71 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $20.25 and $29.25. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15.85, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33.19. Median hourly wages of avionics technicians were about $23.71 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $20.10 and $28.02. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16.45, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30.87.
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