How to become an Aircraft Mechanic
Aircraft Mechanic Job Duties
Skills and Qualities needed to become an Airplane Mechanic
Aircraft Mechanic Salaries
Influential Airplane Mechanics
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Airplace Mechanic Jobs
Other Careers of Interest
Most aircraft mechanics learn their trade in technical schools, which in the United States are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Applicants to these schools usually need a high school diploma or its equivalent, and preferably mechanical experience. Some of these schools offer two and four year degree programs in aviation technology, aviation maintenance management, or avionics.
Certified aircraft mechanic schools in the United States are required to offer students at least 1,900 class hours, and the coursework generally takes between 18 months and two years to complete. These courses include electronics; chemistry, computer science, physics, and mechanical drawings, all of which can help students understand the principles involved in operating and maintaining aircraft. Students are trained with the same equipment and tools as professional aircraft mechanics, and learn new technologies such as composite materials, aviation electronics, and turbine engines.
Although most aircraft mechanics complete an aircraft mechanic program at a certified school, some are trained on the job. This is fairly rare, but experienced certified mechanics can train others on the job, supervising them until the apprentice mechanics earn their FAA certificates. While an aircraft mechanic typically learns how to repair and maintain many different types of airplane engines, most mechanics have a specialty or area of expertise and may train under a mechanic with the same specialty.
Other aircraft mechanics may specialize less in inspection and preventative maintenance and more in repair work. These mechanics repair problems that have already been identified, either by the pilot, a diagnostic system, or another mechanic. Repair mechanics have to troubleshoot the problem and determine the best course of action, often under a great time pressure.
There are a variety of employment opportunities for aircraft mechanics. Some mechanics choose to work in aircraft manufacturing facilities, while others are employed by the military. Owners and pilots of private planes need the services of aircraft mechanics, as do commercial airlines. Other options include teaching aspiring aircraft mechanics or providing continuing education in certain areas of aircraft mechanics.
Most aircraft mechanics work in some type of hangar, or in a factory setting. Occasionally mechanics must work on aircraft outside, and often under a great deal of time constraint to maintain schedules. In addition to the pressure of meeting deadlines, mechanics must be very careful to maintain high safety standards. The job usually requires heavy lifting and manual labor, often in extremely noisy settings, which require hearing protection.
Job prospects for aircraft mechanics are good as of 2008, partly due to the large number of mechanics expected to retire in the next ten years. As airline passenger traffic increases, so does the need for aircraft mechanics, providing more jobs in the field. The job skills necessary to be an aircraft mechanic are very highly transferable to other jobs, which involve maintenance and repair.
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