Being an aircraft mechanic is a great job that offers the opportunity for excellent pay and benefits. There is also a huge need in the marketplace and a shortage of trained professionals, so it makes it easy to find a job when you are ready to start applying. If you are interested in becoming an aircraft mechanic, it’s very important that you know the requirements for the job.
In this article we will go over the qualifications and requirements to become an aircraft mechanic.
FAA Airframe & Powerplant Certificate (A&P)
The FAA has put together a list of requirements that cover all the important requirements of becoming a licenses Aircraft Maintenance Technician. The licensure is technically made up of 2 separate certificates. These 2 certificates are the Airframe Mechanic and Powerplant Mechanic. Together, these are referred to the A&P Certificate.
The main difference between the 2 certificates is that the Airframe Mechanic Certificate focuses on diagnosing and repairing issues with the body of the airplane while the Powerplant Mechanic Certificate focuses on being able to service and repair the engine and propeller of an airplane.
You are not required to earn both of these, but many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed both since it gives them the ability to perform a wide variety of tasks. If you are just starting your journey to become an aircraft mechanic, it’s a good idea to consider earning the full A&P License by completing both certificates.
Below are the basic qualifications to be an Airplane Maintenance Technician (AMT):
- You must be 18 years old
- Fluent in English (able to read, write, speak, and understand English)
Requirements to be an Aviation Maintenance Technician
There are also training and educational requirements to be an Airplane Maintenance Technician (AMT). According to the FAA, those include:
- 18 months of practical experience with the procedures, practices, materials, tools, machines, and equipment generally used in constructing, maintaining, or altering an airframe or powerplant, appropriate to the rating sought; or
- 30 months of practical experience concurrently performing the duties appropriate to both the airframe and powerplant ratings
In addition to these options, you are also eligible if you:
- Graduate from an FAA-approved Aircraft Maintenance Technician School (AMTS) or,
- Complete the JSAMTCC training course for military personnel (this is the Joint Service Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council)
Finally, you will have to meet the testing requirements established by the FAA. These include:
- Be familiar with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR Part Part 65, subpart D, mechanics)
- Pass written, oral, and practical tests (This includes 3 area: General knowledge test first followed by the specific tests for Airframe and Powerplant Certificates)
- Finally, you will be administered and oral test by Designated Mechanical Examiner (DME)
As you can see, there is a lot of training and hard work that goes into becoming an Aircraft Mechanic (technically referred to as a Aviation Maintenance Technician by the FAA)
School vs On the Job Training
The FAA recognizes two paths to earning your Airline Maintenance Technician certificate. These include going to an FAA Approved Airline Maintenance Technician School (AMTS) and learning and gaining experience while working (On the Job Training).
Let’s take a look at how the requirements for these differ:
Airline Maintenance Technician School (AMTS)
In order to attend an AMTS you will have to have earned either a high school diploma or pass the General Education Development test (GED).
It will generally take you 18 to 24 months to complete the program, assuming that you want to earn both the Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificates. The training time breakdown is as follows:
- General Knowledge – 400 required hours
- Airframe – 750 required hours
- Powerplant – 750 required hours
- Total (General Knowledge + A&P) is 1900 hours of required training
Upon completing this program you should be ready to take the required tests mentioned earlier in the article.
The FAA DOES count experience you’ve earned working in aircraft/aviation maintenance in the military as on the job experience. It’s important to note that this includes the time you spent working doing the job but not the time you spent training to do the job. This is an important distinction to keep in mind.
The Department of Defense has worked with the FAA to create the Joint Service Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council (JSAMTCC).
For a more detailed breakdown of how this works, make sure to visit the FAA’s site on it here.
On the Job Training
This is the most inexpensive method of training since it doesn’t require you to attend a school and instead you are being paid to work. It is also more complex as it requires you to track and document all of your activities in order to be able to show how much experience you have.
You’ll also have to study on your own and with the help of other materials to pass the knowledge tests mentioned earlier in this article. This will take a significant time commitment and should be something you prepare for.
Let’s also take a look at some common questions that prospect students have about this career.
Do I Need A College Degree? (Education Requirements)
The FAA does not have any requirements as it relates to a college degree in order to earn the AMT certificates. However, some employers may prefer to hire candidates that meet certain education requirements including a high school diploma or even a college degree.
Do you need a Medical Certificate to be an AMT?
No, the FAA does not require you to obtain a medical certificate. This is a common practice for pilots and some other aviation professionals, but not Aviation Maintenance Technicians.
Being an aircraft mechanic is a rewarding career that can be a great fit for someone who enjoys solving problems, repair complex equipment, and loves airplanes. The industry is always in need of qualified candidates which makes finding employment less challenging than other professions. The pay and benefits for an aircraft mechanic are also great compared to similar positions which is even more reason to get into the industry.