How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic

How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic

As the world continues to recover from COVID-19 and all its aftershocks, travel is high on the list of things to return to for many people. So if you’re looking for a career and have been thinking about the aviation industry, putting your hands-on skills to work as an aircraft mechanic could be the perfect choice.

But how do you start such a career? What kind of training do you need? Will you have to get certified or licensed? Is there anything else you should know about becoming an aircraft mechanic?

Training for Aircraft Mechanics

Airplanes and other aircrafts are complex machines that rely on skilled technicians to maintain them. As a student of an aircraft technology or maintenance program, you’ll be learning everything you need to inspect, maintain, and repair planes and avionics.

Career and technical education (CTE) programs typically last one to two years, preparing you for entry-level work as an aircraft mechanic with a certificate or associate degree. These programs provide hands-on training, which can help you get a feel not just for the technology and mechanics, but for the actual work you’ll be doing on the job.

Theory is important and will be a crucial component of your education. But CTE programs are designed explicitly to help you prepare for the workforce. That’s why you’ll work with industry-standard equipment and tools: you can be ready to get to work straight away in your first job after graduation.

Certifications for Aircraft Mechanics

Career training programs are also designed to prepare you for industry-standard certifications. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires mechanics be certified with the appropriate ratings and authorizations before they can work in the industry.

The most common on these is the A&P, or Airframe and Powerplant, ratings. These certifications designate mechanics who are authorized for Airframe (bodywork) or Powerplant (engine work). You’ll need them to demonstrate that you have the knowledge and ability to perform those types of work.

Mechanics may also eventually seek to gain an inspection authorization (IA), which can allow them to advance toward roles as inspectors or examiners. You’ll need to meet certain requirements in order to pursue that career track, including at least three years’ experience with your A&P ratings.

Becoming an Aircraft Mechanic

Attending an aircraft mechanic or avionics program should give you all the knowledge and hands-on training you need to prepare for certification and to become an aircraft technician. That is, after all, what aircraft and avionics CTE programs are designed to do!

But what can you do to get a leg up on the competition? It can help if you’re mechanically inclined, the sort of person who enjoys taking things apart and putting them back together again or solving puzzles.

It will also be a huge benefit if you’re technologically savvy—and capable of grasping new and complex systems in an ever-evolving industry. This industry is changing, and it’s changing fast. Successful aircraft mechanics will have an appreciation for lifelong learning and for learning on the job. It will be important to keep up.

A passion for aircraft and for the world of flight doesn’t hurt either!

Getting Started

You’ve chosen to pursue a career path as an aircraft mechanic or avionics technician. Now’s the time for takeoff: choose a program in your area (or even one that’s offered in an online or hybrid format) and enroll today.

Don’t forget to register with the Imagine America Foundation to apply for our scholarship programs—qualified students can receive a $1,000 discount on their tuition when they attend one of our partner schools!

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