How to Be an Aircraft Mechanic

By Eric Hammer

While pilots, customer service people and in flight service staff (i.e. stewards and stewardesses) tend to be noticed more often, the single most important people at any airline, with the possible exception of the pilot are the aircraft mechanics. That's because, as an airplane mechanic, you are responsible, along with the flight crew for making sure that the aircraft will stay in the air. Here's why it's such a vital job:

Of all the machines that any ordinary person makes use of on a regular basis, none are more complicated than airplanes (space ships are more complicated, so is the CERN Super Collider and possibly some nuclear reactors, however those are used by people with special training and skills as opposed to ordinary people). This means that these people are relying on you, the aircraft mechanic to keep them safe by checking the planes between uses and making sure they are in good flight condition.

The job is not considered glamorous, mostly because you are working behind the scenes; however, as noted above, it is a vital position.

How Much Can You Make?

Aircraft mechanics make an upper middle class living, with the average salary being just over $75,000 per year according to Salary.Com. Of course, starting airplane mechanics make less and those who have been on the job for years will make significantly more.

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For all that an aircraft mechanic is a well paid and very important job, it's actually not very glamorous. You will not be noticed by anyone, especially if you do your job correctly and as such, this is a job for those who don't mind being in the background. Keep in mind that you may be asked to work outdoors at times, though most often, you'll be working inside of an airplane hangar.

You will also need to take your job very seriously as this is the kind of work where a mistake can quite literally kill hundreds of people. The work can be somewhat tedious as well since you are in essence working on aircraft engines all day long and will often look somewhat grimy since you need to get inside the guts of the plane.

Other jobs which are similar to this include jet refuelers and of course pilots and other airline support staff.

Qualifications / Requirements

There are two ways to get certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an aircraft mechanic. The first is to get on the job training amounting to about 30 months of training. Alternatively, you can go to an FAA approved aircraft mechanic school. The vast majority of aircraft mechanics earn their licenses by attending such schools as it's hard to get a company to hire you for on the job training.

First Steps

Start by attending an appropriate school. You can find a list on the FAA site (see helpful resources below). The program will take about 2-3 years of study after which you can apply to various airlines for jobs as an aircraft mechanic.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about becoming an aircraft mechanic:

FAA: Basic Requirements to Become an Aircraft Mechanic - This is a good, basic introduction to the concept of being an aircraft mechanic with the bare bones of the job laid out for you.

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