Aircraft Maintenance Technicians: Duties & Salary

Aircraft Maintenance TechniciansIf you’re fascinated with aviation, you’re mechanically inclined, and you’ve got a strong desire to work with your hands, you might be destined for a high-flying career as an airframe maintenance technician.

What does an aircraft maintenance technician do?
Aircraft maintenance technicians keep aircraft of various sizes and types in excellent working order. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, they complete inspections, perform scheduled maintenance, and make any necessary repairs. Many technicians specialize in preventive maintenance. As such, they inspect the various equipment and devices on aircrafts, including engines, landing gear, flight instruments, pressurized components, brakes, valves, pumps, and any other part of the plane that requires regular maintenance. Aircraft maintenance technicians are also required to keep records and write reports on their preventative maintenance work.

Other aircraft maintenance technicians specialize in repair work, finding and fixing problems that pilots describe, such as a faulty fuel gauge. In that example, technicians might troubleshoot the electrical system, using electrical test equipment to ensure that no wires are broken or shorted out. Once they determine the source of the problem, technicians replace any defective electrical or electronic components. Aircraft maintenance technicians must work quickly and safely so that the aircraft can be put back into service as soon as possible.

When you become an aircraft maintenance technician, you may work on one or many different types of aircraft, such as helicopters, jets, or propeller-driven airplanes. Or you might choose to specialize in one particular section of the aircraft, such as the electrical system, engine, or hydraulics.

How much do aircraft maintenance technicians get paid and what kinds of aircraft maintenance technician jobs can I get?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2008, aircraft maintenance technicians earned an average annual salary of $51,390. Generally, technicians who work on jets for major airlines earn more than those working on other aircraft. And those who graduate from aircraft maintenance technician schools often earn higher starting salaries than those who are trained in the armed forces or on the job. Plus, aircraft maintenance technicians and their immediate families receive reduced-fare transportation on their own and most other airlines.

The majority of aircraft maintenance technicians work in air transportation and related services, including aerospace production and manufacturing. Many work at major airports near large cities.  Technicians who work for aerospace manufacturing firms are typically located in California or Washington State. A number of technicians work for the federal government, while others are employed by companies that own or rent aircraft for cargo and executive travel. Civilian technicians employed by the armed forces work at military installations. Others work for the FAA, many at the facilities in Atlantic City, Oklahoma City, Wichita, or Washington, D.C. Technicians for independent repair shops work at airports throughout the country.

Demand for aircraft maintenance technicians is projected to increase at about the same rate as many other occupations, reports the BLS. Plus, there are many technicians who will retire over the next decade, allowing for openings in the field.