Career Guides
Aircraft Mechanic

Career Guide: How to become an Aircraft Mechanic


Welcome to the comprehensive career guide for aspiring Aircraft Mechanics in the aerospace industry. Whether you're a passionate aviation enthusiast or someone eyeing a career shift into a dynamic field, understanding the role of an Aircraft Mechanic will provide you with foundational insights necessary for a successful career transition.

This guide is designed to navigate you through various facets of being an Aircraft Mechanic, including what the role entails, the qualifications and skills needed, how long it takes to become one, potential earnings, career outlook, and tips on securing a job in this field. By the end of this guide, you'll have a clearer picture of whether a career as an Aircraft Mechanic aligns with your professional goals and how you can embark on this exciting path.

What Is an Aircraft Mechanic?

An aircraft mechanic, also known as an aviation mechanic or technician, is a professional responsible for the maintenance, repair, and inspection of aircraft systems and components. These specialized mechanics play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and operational efficiency of airplanes and helicopters, whether they cater to commercial airlines, military operations, or private clients.

The scope of an aircraft mechanic's role can vary widely but generally includes diagnosing issues, replacing defective parts, and performing scheduled maintenance to keep aircraft in peak condition. They work on a variety of aircraft systems including engines, landing gear, brakes, and avionics, the electronic systems used in aircraft navigation, communication, and monitoring.

Aircraft mechanics typically operate in hangars, repair stations, or airfields, and their work can involve the use of sophisticated diagnostic equipment to identify and fix problems. Given the demanding nature of the job, which can often include odd hours and working under tight schedules particularly in the commercial aviation sector, aircraft mechanics must maintain a high level of expertise and dedication to safety standards.

Entering this field requires specific training and certification, reflecting the significant responsibility carried by those in this role. Ensuring that aircraft operate safely and efficiently, aircraft mechanics are essential for the continual flow and safety of global air traffic.

Key Responsibilities of an Aircraft Mechanic

The role of an aircraft mechanic is crucial in the aerospace industry as they ensure that aircraft are airworthy and safe for operation. Below we discuss the major responsibilities that define their day-to-day activities:

  • Inspection: Regular and thorough inspections are a significant part of an aircraft mechanic’s duties. They check the structural integrity, engine performance, and the proper function of all systems. This process is vital both pre and post-flight to help detect and address any potential issues early on.
  • Maintenance: Preventive maintenance is scheduled based on flight hours, days since the last inspection, cycles of operation, or a combination of these factors. Aircraft mechanics carry out these maintenance tasks to prevent failures before they occur.
  • Repairs: When aircraft malfunctions or damage occur, a quick and effective resolution is necessary. Mechanics diagnose the problems, often with the help of sophisticated diagnostic tools, and perform needed repairs.
  • Installations: Installing new parts or upgrades is also a key responsibility. Mechanics must ensure that these installations comply with regulatory standards and enhance the aircraft’s functionality and safety.
  • Documentation: Detailed records of inspections, maintenance routines, and repairs are crucial. Documentation ensures compliance with aviation regulations and helps in maintaining a clear history of the aircraft’s maintenance for safety audits and future reference.
  • Compliance: Aircraft mechanics must ensure that all aircraft and procedural manuals are adhered to strictly. This compliance with federal and international aviation regulations is critical for an aircraft’s certification for flight.

In essence, the duties of an aircraft mechanic involve a mix of routine checks and unexpected repairs. They require a dynamic range of skills to adapt to the various demands of each task, ensuring that each aircraft they service meets the necessary standards of safety and reliability.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Aircraft Mechanic?

Becoming an aircraft mechanic is a commitment that involves both formal education and hands-on training. The duration to become fully certified can vary significantly based on a range of factors including the choice between obtaining an FAA-approved certificate or gaining experience through apprenticeships.

FAA-approved Programs: These programs typically lead to an Associate's degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology and take about 18 to 24 months to complete. Some technical schools and community colleges offer these programs which comprehensively cover the practical and theoretical aspects of aircraft maintenance.

Apprenticeships: If you choose to go through an apprenticeship instead of an educational program, the timeframe might extend slightly. Apprenticeships can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, but they provide extensive hands-on experience, often under the supervision of an experienced aircraft mechanic.

Military Training: Another pathway is enlisting in the military. Many branches of the U.S. military train individuals to become aircraft mechanics. The training period in the military can vary, but it generally includes both technical instruction and practical experience. Additionally, military training is highly respected in the civilian job market and can significantly enhance career prospects.

After completing an FAA-approved program or an equivalent apprenticeship, aspiring mechanics must then pass an FAA certification. The certification consists of written, oral, and practical examinations. This process itself might take a few months to prepare for and complete, depending on the individual's readiness and background in the field.

Therefore, the entire process to become a fully certified aircraft mechanic can last from about 2 years if opting for accelerated educational programs to up to 5 years if one takes the apprenticeship route or combines work experience with part-time study and certification preparation.

What are the Qualifications Required to Become an Aircraft Mechanic?

To pursue a career as an aircraft mechanic in the aerospace industry, specific qualifications must be met to ensure safety and compliance with aviation standards. These qualifications combine educational requirements, certification, and practical experience.

Educational Requirements

The foundational step to becoming an aircraft mechanic typically involves obtaining a high school diploma or GED. Most employers and training programs require this basic educational background. Following this, aspiring mechanics often enroll in a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS). Programs offered by these schools provide comprehensive training in airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics and typically last between 18 to 24 months.


After completing an AMTS program, the next essential step is certification. The FAA requires mechanics to be certified to work independently. There are two primary certifications:

  • Airframe (A): This certification focuses on the fuselage, wings, and other structural components of an aircraft.
  • Powerplant (P): This involves the engines and propulsion system of the aircraft.

To obtain these certifications, candidates must pass a series of exams that assess their practical skills and knowledge. Additionally, FAA regulations state that to be eligible for testing, one must have either graduated from an FAA-approved school or accumulated 18 months of on-the-job experience for either Airframe or Powerplant certification, or 30 months for both.

Additional Credentials

Apart from the standard A&P certifications, there are additional credentials that can enhance an aircraft mechanic’s qualifications:

  • Inspection Authorization (IA): This is an advanced certification that allows the mechanic to conduct thorough inspections and approve aircraft returns to service.
  • Specific manufacturer training: Many aircraft manufacturers offer specialized training on their specific models, which can be highly beneficial for mechanics seeking to specialize.

Overall, the journey to becoming an aircraft mechanic involves a mix of educational achievements, hands-on experience, and obtaining the necessary FAA certifications. Each of these qualifications serves to ensure that aircraft mechanics have the skills and knowledge required to maintain the safety and integrity of aircraft in the aerospace industry.

What are the Skills and Knowledge Required to Become an Aircraft Mechanic?

Becoming an aircraft mechanic requires a specific set of skills and knowledge. This role demands both hard technical skills and soft interpersonal skills. Below, we delve into the essential competencies needed to excel in this field:

Technical Proficiency

  • Aeronautical knowledge: Understanding the principles of flight and aircraft operations is crucial. Mechanics need to know how different aircraft systems function to diagnose and fix issues effectively.
  • Maintenance and Repair Skills: Proficiency in maintaining, repairing, and inspecting aircraft is fundamental. This includes expertise in engine components, electrical systems, and structural features of various aircraft.
  • Tool Proficiency: Aircraft mechanics must be adept in using a range of tools, from common hand tools to sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving

Aircraft mechanics must evaluate complex mechanical systems, identify problems, and implement effective solutions. Troubleshooting skills are vital, as mechanics often work under pressure to ensure that aircraft meet safety standards.

Attention to Detail

Meticulous attention to detail is crucial for aircraft mechanics. Small mistakes can lead to serious consequences. Precision in conducting inspections, carrying out repairs, and documenting maintenance processes is key.

Physical and Mental Stamina

Aircraft mechanics often work in physically demanding environments. They may be required to lift heavy objects, work at heights or in cramped spaces, and endure loud noises for extended periods. Mental stamina is also crucial for maintaining concentration over long hours and handling the stress associated with the job.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential, both for interacting with coworkers and for understanding and following complex technical manuals. Teamwork skills are necessary, as mechanics frequently work in groups and must coordinate their efforts for optimal efficiency.

Regulatory Knowledge

Understanding aviation safety standards and regulations is non-negotiable. Aircraft mechanics must be aware of and comply with all relevant local and international aviation standards and practices to ensure the safety and legality of their work.

In conclusion, the role of an aircraft mechanic is multi-faceted, with a heavy emphasis on technical abilities combined with physical stamina, critical problem-solving, and effective communication. Continuous learning and skills development are essential due to the constantly advancing nature of aviation technology.

How Much Does an Aircraft Mechanic Make?

An Aircraft Mechanic's salary can vary greatly depending on several factors, including experience, location, and the specific sector within the aerospace industry they work in. However, understanding the financial aspect of this career path is crucial for those considering entering this field.

Entry-Level Wages

For those starting their career as an Aircraft Mechanic, the initial salary can be modest. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,190 annually as of May 2020. However, these entry-level wages generally increase as mechanics gain more experience and obtain additional certifications.

Median Salary

The national average salary for Aircraft Mechanics is a useful benchmark. As per May 2020 data, the median annual wage for Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians was about $66,680. This figure represents the middle salary point, meaning half of Aircraft Mechanics earn more than this amount, and the other half earn less.

Top Earners

Experienced Aircraft Mechanics who have moved up in their careers can earn significantly more. The top 10 percent of earners in this field made more than $101,070 annually as of the same report in 2020. These higher wages tend to be associated with senior positions, specializations in certain aircraft types, or roles within high-paying industries like commercial airlines and government contracts.

Geographical Variation

Location is a significant factor in salary differences. Aircraft Mechanics in regions with large airports or major airline hubs tend to earn more due to the higher demand for maintenance services. States like California, Texas, and Florida, known for their extensive aviation activities, offer some of the highest salaries for this role.

Influence of Certifications

Obtaining further certifications, like an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license, also plays a crucial role in boosting earning potential. Mechanics with these certifications are often preferred by employers and can command higher wages for their specialized skills.

Bonus and Overtime

Additionally, many Aircraft Mechanics have opportunities to increase their earnings through overtime, especially during periods of heightened maintenance schedules. Bonuses and profit-sharing can also augment a mechanic's income, depending on the employer's policies.

In summary, while the starting salary for an Aircraft Mechanic might be on the lower side, there is significant potential for salary growth. Factors like experience, location, certifications, and the specific industry sector play critical roles in determining earnings.

Career Outlook for Aircraft Mechanic

The career outlook for aircraft mechanics in the aerospace industry is generally positive, with steady growth projected for the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians is expected to grow by 11% from 2020 to 2030. This is faster than the average for all occupations, highlighting the robust demand for skilled professionals in this field.

This demand is primarily driven by the increasing air traffic, both passenger and freight, which necessitates higher rates of maintenance and more frequent inspections of aircraft. Additionally, the push towards more efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft designs encourages airlines and other operators to invest in newer, more complex models, which in turn increases the need for skilled mechanics to maintain and repair these advanced systems.

Another factor contributing to the positive job outlook is the trend of aging workforce in this sector. Many current aircraft mechanics are approaching retirement age, creating significant opportunities for new entrants to fill their positions. Companies are often eager to hire fresh talent who can bring new skills and technologies into their operations, particularly those versed in the latest aviation technologies and sustainability practices.

  • Regional Differences: The job outlook can vary significantly by region. Regions with large airports, airline hubs, or bases for cargo carriers generally offer more employment opportunities due to the higher volume of aircraft traffic.
  • Technological Advancements: Stay updated with the latest advancements in aviation technology. As more aircraft incorporate modern technology and computer systems, mechanics with strong digital skills are likely in higher demand.
  • Military Employment: Beyond commercial aviation, there is also stable employment provided by the military, which consistently requires skilled mechanics to maintain and repair a diverse fleet of aircraft.

To sum up, as long as there are aircraft in the sky, there will be a need for aircraft mechanics. Those entering this field can look forward to a dynamic career with substantial opportunities for growth and advancement. Continuous learning and adaptation to new technologies can further enhance job security and career prospects in this ever-evolving industry.

Finding Jobs as an Aircraft Mechanic

Finding a job as an aircraft mechanic involves a strategic approach that blends networking, understanding industry trends, and effectively showcasing your qualifications and skills. The aerospace industry offers various pathways for aircraft mechanics, but knowing where to look and how to present yourself can set you apart in a competitive job market.

Utilize Online Job Portals

Start by regularly checking popular job portals such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. These sites frequently list opportunities for aircraft mechanics across different companies. Customize your job search by using filters related to location, experience level, and type of employment (full-time, part-time, contract) to streamline your search process.

Industry-Specific Websites

Apart from general job portals, there are websites dedicated specifically to the aviation industry. Sites like Aviation JobNet and specialize in aviation and aerospace job listings. These platforms often list more specialized roles and may provide greater insight into the industry.

Network in the Industry

Networking remains a critical tool. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and workshops to meet peers, mentors, and potential employers. Joining professional organizations such as the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association or the Aeronautical Repair Station Association can also provide valuable networking opportunities and industry news.

  • **Connect with Alumni:** Reach out to alumni from your training program who are now working in the aerospace industry. They can provide guidance, job leads, and possibly refer you directly for job openings.
  • **Social Media Engagement:** Follow leading aerospace companies on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Engaging with their posts and staying updated with their projects can provide talking points for interviews and networking events.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Gaining practical experience through internships or apprenticeships can be significantly beneficial. These positions not only enhance your resume but also give you a foot in the door at major aerospace companies. Many companies prioritize hiring candidates who have successfully completed internships or apprenticeships with them.

Prepare a Strong Resume and Cover Letter

Your resume should clearly highlight your mechanical skills, certifications, and experience in the aerospace industry. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each application to address the specific qualifications and duties of the job posting. Highlight any specialized skills or experiences, such as working with particular aircraft models, that could set you apart from other candidates.

Follow Up

After submitting your applications, don’t hesitate to follow up. A polite email or phone call can demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the position, making you a memorable candidate. It also keeps you on the radar as employers sift through numerous applications.

In conclusion, finding employment as an aircraft mechanic in the aerospace industry requires a blend of targeted job search strategies, robust networking, and impeccable application materials. By understanding the specific demands and opportunities of the aerospace sector, you can effectively navigate your way to a successful career in this exciting field.


Embarking on a career as an aircraft mechanic in the aerospace industry presents an exciting and dynamic opportunity for those interested in aviation maintenance. Throughout this guide, we've discussed the multifaceted aspects of what it means to be an aircraft mechanic - from the essential responsibilities and necessary qualifications to the expected salary and job outlook.

If you have a keen interest in mechanics and aviation, coupled with a commitment to safety and continuous learning, a career as an aircraft mechanic could be profoundly rewarding. It's a profession that not only requires technical expertise but also demands a high level of problem-solving skills and attention to detail.

The pathway to becoming a successful aircraft mechanic involves obtaining the appropriate certifications and possibly, specialized training. Additionally, cultivating critical skills such as precision, communication, and adaptability will enhance your ability to excel in this role.

The aerospace sector is continually evolving, propelled by technological advancements and growing global transportation needs. Hence, the demand for skilled aircraft mechanics is expected to remain robust, making this career not only a viable but a stable choice for the future.

As we close this guide, remember that the journey to becoming a proficient aircraft mechanic is one of perpetual learning and passion for aviation. Whether you're just starting out or looking to advance in the field, the aerospace industry offers a wealth of opportunities for personal and professional growth.


Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about becoming an aircraft mechanic in the aerospace industry:

What educational background is needed to become an aircraft mechanic?

To become an aircraft mechanic, you typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, most employers prefer candidates who have completed a program at an FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.

Are there any certifications required?

Yes, aircraft mechanics need to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The two main certifications are Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) which you can earn through FAA-approved schools followed by passing specific exams.

How can I gain experience in this field?

  • Internships: Many schools offer internship programs where you can work under the supervision of experienced mechanics.
  • Entry-level jobs: Starting as a technician's helper or a mechanic's assistant can provide practical experience.
  • Military service: Some choose to gain relevant experience in the military.

What skills are particularly important for an aircraft mechanic?

Important skills include problem-solving, attention to detail, technical proficiency, and strong communication abilities. Mechanical skills are crucial, as mechanics must understand complex aircraft systems.

What's the difference between an A&P mechanic and an avionics technician?

An A&P mechanic is trained to handle the entire aircraft including the engines and airframe. Avionics technicians, however, specialize in the electronic systems of the aircraft, such as navigation, radar, and communication systems.

Can aircraft mechanics specialize in a particular type of aircraft?

Yes, mechanics can specialize in specific types of aircrafts, such as helicopters, jets, or propeller-driven airplanes. Some also specialize in areas like engines or airframes.

How does ongoing education impact an aircraft mechanic's career?

Ongoing education is critical due to continual advancements in aviation technology. Mechanics need to stay updated with the latest technologies and regulations, which can often be achieved through workshops, new certifications, and additional coursework.

Is the job of an aircraft mechanic usually full-time?

Most aircraft mechanic positions are full-time but be prepared for shifts that could include nights, weekends, and overtime. Some mechanics might also be on-call to handle unexpected repairs.

Are there opportunities for advancement?

Experienced aircraft mechanics can advance to supervisory roles, lead mechanic positions, or even managerial roles within maintenance departments. Some go on to specialize in FAA compliance or investigations.

Where can aircraft mechanics find employment?

Aircraft mechanics work in a variety of settings including airlines, maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities, aircraft manufacturing companies, and government organizations. Some even work at airports or on military bases.

These FAQs cover common queries prospective aircraft mechanics have about the field. With the right training, certifications, and experience, a career as an aircraft mechanic offers rewarding opportunities in the aerospace industry.

Are you looking for a Aircraft Mechanic role?

Apply via BuildStream today and our team will get in touch to discuss your move and find you your dream job.
Apply Now

Looking for a career change?

We specialize in matching great people with their dream role. It's free and only takes 2 minutes to apply.
  • Get interviews at interested companies within 72 hours
  • 100% discreet, we won't expose your details to anyone
  • Free for candidates, we charge companies a placement fee