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Aircraft Mechanics

At a Glance

  • Fix problems before they occur
  • Often specialize in a type of plane
  • Usually work in airplane hangars
  • May work overtime, nights, or weekends
  • Study at FAA-approved schools
  • Usually need at least two years of training
  • Usually are FAA-certified

Career summary

Aircraft mechanics service and repair aircraft and aircraft engines.

Aircraft mechanics are also known as airframe and powerplant technicians, avionics technicians, or aviation maintenance technicians.

#from wois 3116 Aircraft Mechanics

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Aircraft mechanics perform routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs. Aircraft is inspected by mechanics after having flown a certain number of hours, days, cycles of operation, or a combination of all of these factors.

Aircraft mechanics usually specialize in maintenance or repair.

Maintenance mechanics

Maintenance mechanics inspect engines, landing gear, instruments, pressurized sections, and accessories. They grease moving parts or replace fluids. They use precision instruments to measure parts for wear. When they find worn parts, mechanics replace or repair them.

Repair mechanics

Repair mechanics specialize in repair not inspection. They use maintenance manuals to find out how to repair damaged parts. They use equipment such as hoists to lift engines from the body of the aircraft. Mechanics may assemble, adjust, and install new systems, such as electronics or plumbing.

Mechanics run tests to make sure the systems or parts are working properly after repairs.

Mechanics may specialize in one, or many types of aircraft. These include:

Mechanics in small repair shops usually work on many types of aircraft. In larger shops they are more likely to specialize.

Workers who specialize in repairs to electronic systems such as radio communications and flight instruments are called avionics technicians.

Related careers

This career is part of the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to aircraft mechanics.

Common work activities

Aircraft mechanics perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, aircraft mechanics:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Aircraft mechanics frequently:

It is important for aircraft mechanics to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for aircraft mechanics to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Aircraft mechanics need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an aircraft mechanic, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most aircraft mechanics learn their skills at a professional-technical school. Training programs last two or four years and you earn an associate or bachelor's degree. In school you learn about turbine engines and aviation electronics. You also learn to use tools and equipment. To become a certified mechanic, you must study at a school certified by the FAA.

Work experience

The FAA requires 18 months of work experience before you can become a certified aircraft mechanic. For an airframe and power plant (A & P) certificate, you need 30 months of work experience. You can sometimes substitute a degree from a training program for work experience.

On-the-job training

A few aircraft mechanics are trained on the job by experienced mechanics. Training may take two years or more. Mechanics who enter the job with some experience will go through less on-the-job training.

Military training

The military trains people to be aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians. Training lasts three to 17 weeks for aircraft mechanics. For avionics technicians training lasts 18 to 25 weeks. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses.

The time you spend in the military as an aircraft mechanic may give you enough work experience to satisfy the requirements for FAA certification. However, military training is specialized. Thus, many military-trained mechanics complete a full training course at a professional-technical school to become certified.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most airlines require that mechanics have a high school diploma or equivalent. They also look for applicants with an airframe and powerplant (A & P) mechanic certificate. Additionally, employers prefer mechanics who can perform a variety of tasks. Mechanics who gain experience in the military and are certified are very attractive to employers.

Employers prefer to hire applicants who are self-motivated, hard working, and enthusiastic. They also look for mechanics who are able to diagnose and solve complex mechanical problems. Aircraft mechanics also must be very agile. For example, they may need to reach and climb onto the plane's wing to do a job.


Read all manuals concerning aircraft maintenance. Visit general aviation, airport, or airline shops. Changes in technology are creating the need for an understanding of new metals and techniques being used. Knowledge of advanced composite materials repair is helpful. Additional training in heavy aircraft and auxiliary systems is a plus.

Electronics knowledge is important. Courses in digital controlled machines, aircraft system computer troubleshooting, mechanical systems, and turbine and fan turbine engines are helpful. Willingness to relocate may improve your chances, especially if you are seeking higher wages. If you're in high school, learn the skills and knowledge required for mechanical work and the use of hand tools.

Costs to workers

Aircraft mechanics must purchase their own tools. The cost of the tools varies depending on the employment setting, but a basic set averages $2,000. Special tools such as rivet guns and drills are usually supplied by the employer. Some workers may be required to join a union and pay a one-time initiation fee and monthly dues. Workers who are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration must pay an exam fee.

#116 pc Basic A&P Mechanic set - $1,099.95; 201 pc set - $2,618.80; 143 pc set - $1,749.95, 2/2/10, cj. CPTC program minimum tool set $2,023 2/10/11 lh. Saw online cost of about $1,800 for 116 pc set so left as is, 1/31/14 cj. Did quick search on cost of basic tool kit; price we list about what I saw on Sears and Amazon; decided to leave in what we have now, 1/31/18 cj.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifies all aircraft mechanics. For an airframe (A), powerplant (P), or repairer (R) license, the FAA requires graduation from an FAA-approved school or at least 18 months of work experience.

For a combined license (A & P), the FAA requires graduation from an FAA-approved school or at least 30 months of experience working with both engines and airframes.

Applicants for any of these certificates must:

For more information about becoming certified as an aircraft mechanic, contact:

Federal Aviation Administration (external link)

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Aircraft mechanics and service technicians (SOC 49-3011)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $18.04 $22.97 $30.98 $43.94 $48.66
Monthly $3,126 $3,981 $5,369 $7,615 $8,433
Yearly $37,520 $47,780 $64,440 $91,390 $101,210
    Bellingham Hourly $17.99 $21.93 $30.07 $40.97 $47.39
Monthly $3,118 $3,800 $5,211 $7,100 $8,213
Yearly $37,425 $45,618 $62,548 $85,222 $98,574
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $13.29 $16.61 $21.97 $33.25 $41.52
Monthly $2,303 $2,879 $3,807 $5,762 $7,195
Yearly $27,639 $34,547 $45,692 $69,161 $86,350
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $13.40 $14.76 $18.98 $24.38 $31.90
Monthly $2,322 $2,558 $3,289 $4,225 $5,528
Yearly $27,879 $30,700 $39,487 $50,705 $66,339
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $25.97 $27.62 $30.09 $35.93 $45.04
Monthly $4,501 $4,787 $5,215 $6,227 $7,805
Yearly $54,017 $57,460 $62,588 $74,728 $93,693
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $18.48 $23.54 $32.86 $45.13 $49.53
Monthly $3,203 $4,079 $5,695 $7,821 $8,584
Yearly $38,419 $48,958 $68,348 $93,884 $103,030
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $16.68 $21.58 $26.07 $32.09 $44.66
Monthly $2,891 $3,740 $4,518 $5,561 $7,740
Yearly $34,699 $44,901 $54,228 $66,737 $92,898
    Vancouver Hourly $18.47 $26.65 $30.25 $40.10 $47.69
Monthly $3,201 $4,618 $5,242 $6,949 $8,265
Yearly $38,416 $55,434 $62,918 $83,415 $99,200
    Wenatchee Hourly $12.29 $13.93 $17.80 $21.61 $23.62
Monthly $2,130 $2,414 $3,085 $3,745 $4,093
Yearly $25,549 $28,963 $37,019 $44,930 $49,129
United States Hourly $17.67 $23.99 $30.25 $38.66 $47.03
Monthly $3,062 $4,157 $5,242 $6,700 $8,150
Yearly $36,760 $49,900 $62,920 $80,410 $97,820

Avionics technicians (SOC 49-2091)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)
    Vancouver Hourly $25.67 $28.47 $34.55 $43.36 $47.81
Monthly $4,449 $4,934 $5,988 $7,514 $8,285
Yearly $53,382 $59,227 $71,874 $90,195 $99,440
United States Hourly $19.20 $25.38 $30.84 $38.11 $45.54
Monthly $3,327 $4,398 $5,345 $6,604 $7,892
Yearly $39,940 $52,790 $64,140 $79,270 $94,710

(1) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages for aircraft mechanics vary by specialty. Pay also varies by employer. For example, mechanics who work on jets for the major airlines earn more than other mechanics.

Mechanics work all shifts and often work overtime. Employers pay mechanics extra for working shifts that are not during regular work times.

Mechanics who work full time usually receive benefits. Benefits usually include health insurance, paid vacation, and a retirement plan. Airline mechanics also receive travel discounts for themselves and their family members.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians (SOC 49-3011)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 5,747 5.6% 16.1% 512
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 53 22.6% 13.4% 7
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 15 6.7% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 11 27.3% 15.0% 1
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 12 25.0% 11.9% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 51 13.7% 15.2% 5
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 38 23.7% 14.1% 5
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 150 8.0% 14.6% 14
    King County 1,666 16.1% 19.6% 192
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 64 7.8% 13.8% 6
    Pierce County 263 14.8% 15.2% 29
    Snohomish County 3,139 -2.1% 12.4% 220
    Spokane County 236 8.1% 13.9% 22
United States 136,900 3.1% 5.2% 11,800

Avionics Technicians (SOC 49-2091)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 2,463 7.1% 16.1% 231
    Benton and Franklin Counties 18 50.0% 15.0% 3
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 13 30.8% 15.2% 1
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 40 5.0% 14.6% 3
    King County 1,168 11.0% 19.6% 120
    Pierce County 72 13.9% 15.2% 8
    Snohomish County 1,045 1.0% 12.4% 82
    Spokane County 57 31.6% 13.9% 8
United States 20,600 1.9% 5.2% 1,500

National employment

Most aircraft mechanics work at major airports near large cities. Both civilian and military mechanics work on military bases. Large numbers of mechanics work for aircraft manufacturers in California and Washington. Mechanics who work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) generally work in one of three cities. These cities are Oklahoma City, Atlantic City, or Washington, DC. Mechanics who work for independent repair shops work at airports throughout the nation.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing slowly. As air traffic increases additional aircraft maintenance will be required. However, it is expected that some airlines will outsource maintenance work to other countries. People with skills in the latest technologies and A&P certifications will have better job opportunities.

Competition for new jobs in aircraft mechanics will remain strong. Some job openings will occur as current mechanics retire.

Other resources

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (external link)
421 Aviation Way
Frederick, MD 21701
Airlines for America (external link)
1275 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1300
Washington, DC 20004
Electronics Technicians Association, International (external link)
5 Depot Street
Greencastle, IN 46135
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Federal Aviation Administration (external link)
800 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20591
Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (external link)
PO Box 163
Jenks OK 74037


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupations

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters