For many people, becoming an aircraft mechanic would be a dream come true. This is because it’s a highly respected career that has great pay and benefits while letting you work on some of the most advanced pieces of machinery in the world. If you like working on and repairing things, this might be the perfect career for you. One common question that prospective aviation mechanics have is how long they’ll have to spend in school and training to be an aviation mechanic.
So, how long does it take to become an aircraft mechanic?
Becoming an aircraft mechanic will typically take between 14 months and 3 years depending on the path you choose to take.
In this article we will take a look at some of the different paths you can take to become an aircraft mechanic as well as how these different paths can affect how long it takes you to complete your training.
Requirements to Become an Aircraft Mechanic
Before we discuss the exact amount of time it will take you to become an airplane maintenance professional from start to finish, we should take a look at what the requirements are for the job. Here is a list of the FAA requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Either 18 months of practical experience in airframe mechanics, 18 months of practical experience in powerplant mechanics, or 30 months of working on them jointly (A&P Experience)
- Pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) written tests, practical tests, and oral exam
- Pass FAA
*Note: While you aren’t required to earn both airframe and powerplant mechanic certifications, most mechanics do so since it makes it much easier to land a job and increases your earnings potential. For the majority of this article we’ll assume that you do intend to do both. We do also have additional information on the different types of aviation mechanics.
If you would like to take a look at a much more detailed look on these requirements, make sure to check out our article on it here: Requirements to be an aircraft mechanic
On the Job Experience (30 months)
One option or path that you can take is to focus on getting practical experience.
This includes getting hired in an entry level position and learning while on the job. Going this route requires you to work alongside existing certified mechanics for 30 months before you can get your certification.
Once you have the 30 months of experience you are still required to pass all of the FAA requirements (written test, practical test, and oral test) before earning your A&P Certification.
The benefit to going this route is that you get to earn money while you’re learning. This option also includes you not having to attend a traditional school in order to start your career. If you would prefer to avoid the traditional school route, this might be the best one for you.
There are also some downsides to choosing this option. Here are a few:
- It will take longer than if you were to attend a tech/trade school
- More difficult to land this first job if you have no prior experience
- Upon completing the 30 months of work, you’ll be on your own to prepare for the FAA written, oral, and practical exams
- Depending on you employer, you might have access to a limited type of aircraft
As you can see, while there are definitely advantages to going this route, you should consider the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.
Trade School (18-24 months)
Another popular option for those who want to become an aircraft mechanic is to attend a technical college (trade school). This option has many advantages compared to just working through an apprenticeship. Some of them include:
- Getting direct hands on experience working on the aircraft you’ll be working on when you complete the program
- Going directly to a technician job after school instead of a somewhat longer apprenticeship
- Less time from start to finish (some schools can have you complete the entire program in 18 month or less)
- Learning to work with a variety of different aircraft
- Learn directly from experienced instructors whom specialize in teaching these skills
- Help with preparing with the FAA tests/exams you’ll have to take in the future
- Many schools also have career placement services that will help you land the job of your dreams
This is a great option for someone who wants to focus on completing their education quickly and learning as much as they can.
One of the downsides to this is that you’ll be a student instead of just having a job. Also, since you’ll be attending a trade school, you’ll be responsible for paying tuition (or taking out a loan to pay for it that you’ll have to repay later.
For many people, attending a trade school is by far the best and most efficient option.
How Long Does Trade School Take?
This is the main question most prospective students have. The answer is that it can vary by trade school, but you can expect it to take in the range of 14-24 months of full time study. This depends on if the classes are full time and all year round. There are full time options that have classes Monday through Friday that can have you work through the entire program in as little as 14 months.
The time you spend in school will be with an experienced instructor that can teach you a variety of skills you’ll need for both passing the FAA tests as well as performing your future job functions.
The last option we will mention is training for this role while being in the military. This is very different from the above mentioned options since in addition to training to become an aviation mechanic you’ll also be a member of the armed forces. There are many benefits to this including the pay, benefits, and serving your country. This is a much larger commitment since it’s more than just training for a career or job.
In addition to meeting all of the requirements to being an aircraft mechanic, you’ll also have to meet the requirements to be in the military.
Here is a link that can provide you with more information on this option. If this is something that interests you I would recommend you reach out to a recruiter to discuss in more detail.
While becoming an aircraft mechanic can take several years of hard work and training, for most people it ends up being worth the investment. There are many benefits to being an aircraft mechanic (both financial and personal) and for the many professionals working in this field it is absolutely worth doing.
If your goal is to become an aircraft mechanic, there are several options for you to achieve this goal. Make sure to weigh your options carefully before deciding which one is right for you.
Best of luck to you regardless of which one you choose!