How much do aircraft mechanics make?

The top cruising speed on an average commercial airliner is about 600 miles per hour. That also happens to be about how fast some aircraft mechanics will say their field changes.

Of course, no one can put a time on the actual rate an industry advances. But aviation technology is constantly taking big leaps forward, which means professionals in this field are regularly honing their skills and learning more about today’s technology.

Given that the field involves state-of-the-art technology and rapid change, aviation maintenance is often associated with high pay. Should it be? How much do aircraft mechanics make? Are salaries as high as some project?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for airplane mechanics in 2012 was more than $55,000 with top mechanics earning an estimated $77,000 and the bottom 10 percent earning about $35,000. While these are the specific numbers you might have been searching for, there are several factors that can impact what you make as an aviation mechanic.

Six factors that influence how much you make as an aircraft mechanic

To ensure you make a high-paying aviation mechanic salary in this career field, you need to take into account a few considerations. Here are six factors that can influence how much you make as an aircraft mechanic:


  • Your experience level – Granted, when you first start your career as an aviation mechanic, this is going to be a bigger weakness than a strength. However, once you’ve been in the industry for a couple years, your skills will be honed and your resume will have grown. That can only lead to bigger and better pay (and likewise, bigger and better salaries.)
  • Knowing new technologies/avionics – Seemingly every day new technologies are coming into play in the aviation realm and your knowledge of them can position you to make higher pay. Hiring managers are increasingly searching for aviation technicians who also know avionics. This allows them to work on electronic components in new aircraft while being able to install and repair them in older airplanes.
  • Obtaining your A&P License – Similar to other fields, there are certain credentials you can achieve that warrant higher pay. Aviation mechanics can earn an A&P license to show they’ve received the proper training and met requirements set by the Federal Air Administration. An A&P mechanic can inspect, perform, or supervise maintenance of aircraft and aircraft systems.
  • Who hires you – In the aviation field, it’s no secret that the best-paying salaries come by working with the major airlines. Couriers or express delivery companies such as FedEx or UPS are constantly operating with planes in the air, which leads to good salaries for those in charge of the upkeep for these machines.
  • The work you perform – What are your specific aviation skills? If you become familiar with high-tech electrical issues or systems troubleshooting, then you will possess a highly valued skill set that can lead to higher wages.
  • What is your specialty? – In-depth knowledge in particular area of aviation mechanics can warrant better pay, too. By developing specializations in engines, electrical systems or system tests, you can instantly make yourself a more valuable commodity.

A high-flying career

Technical know-how and hands-on skill are keys to a successful career in this field. But to make the best salary possible, you're going to need to plan carefully. Aircraft maintenance is becoming a highly competitive field given the high pay. It has regularly been ranked among the top 20 careers on job sites such as Indeed, Monster and Yahoo! Jobs. Now that you know the factors that will most impact your pay, your career has been cleared for a smooth takeoff.