Flying high: How to become an aviation mechanic

Aviation mechanics work in highly-technical environments, focusing their work on ensuring that planes and other flying vehicles operate effectively and safely.

By Shekinah Kannan 

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If you’re interested in ensuring the safety of the flying public, you should consider a career as an aviation mechanic. 

These professionals work in highly-technical environments, focusing their work on ensuring that planes and other flying vehicles operate effectively and safely. Their day-to-day responsibilities include diagnosing both mechanical and electrical problems, repairing various parts of flying vehicles, and replacing parts that are broken. 

Aviation mechanics often hone transferable skills that can be used in a broad range of industries. Within the aviation sector, they can work with airlines, fixed-base operators, manufacturers, repair stations, aviation maintenance schools, and various other businesses or organisations.


Why become an aviation mechanic?

A career as an aviation mechanic can be rewarding for those who enjoy a hands-on career. While the travel industry has been badly hit by the pandemic, industry experts predict that travel could go back to normal, or to 2019 volumes, by the end of 2022.

Throughout COVID-19, approximately 1.2 billion passengers have travelled via plane. Last year, a report by the International Air Transport Association concluded only 44 cases of flight related infections. 

This suggests aspiring aviation mechanics could continue to soar at newer and higher altitudes in a post-pandemic world.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that overall employment of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

They add that job opportunities are expected to be good because there will be a need to replace workers leaving the occupation.

What education do you need to become an aviation mechanic?

The academic requirements to become an aviation mechanic are fairly simple. For starters, a high school education or GED is a prerequisite.

Technical or trade school should be the next step on your list. There are over 170 aviation mechanic technician schools in the US that are currently accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a US government agency that issues and enforces regulations covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft.

Programmes could take anywhere between 12 to 24 months to complete. Whichever you choose, striving for strong results in mathematics, science, engineering, or construction will help you build the toolkit you need to achieve a license. 

Alternatively, aspiring aviation mechanics could gain on-the-job training. You will need a total of 18 months of experience to gain certification. In this time, you will not be authorised to sign off on the planes, engines, or appliances you’re tasked to work on. 

Once equipped with the right education or a good amount of work experience, aspiring aviation mechanics can begin preparing for the certification exam. The process usually includes written exams, oral interviews, and field assessments. More information can be found on the FAA website.


How can you secure a job?

If you’ve taken the on-the-job training route, your mentor could be willing to hire you on a full-time basis once you’ve been certified. Alternatively, you could also send your CV to companies that require the expertise of aviation mechanics. 

The type of work can vary depending on the company, but the job can be physically demanding. This will include lifting heavy objects and knowing how to operate various power tools. Any recruiter or employer would be happy to know these are tasks you have experience with and are ready to take on.