What is an Aviation Maintenance Technician?

Think you've got the skills for a high-flying career? Discover if becoming an aviation maintenance technician is your ticket to job security, exciting work, and a rewarding future.

Key Takeaways

  • AMTs are responsible for ensuring the safety and airworthiness of aircraft. Work often includes meticulous inspections, troubleshooting, and repairs. 
  • AMTs must have strong technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and meticulous attention to detail. The job requires formal certification, hands-on training, and continuous learning.
  • The demand for skilled AMTs is rising, ensuring job stability and high pay. This field offers diverse career paths, from specialized technicians to inspectors and supervisors.
Think you've got the skills for a high-flying career? Discover if becoming an aviation maintenance technician is your ticket to job security, exciting work, and a rewarding future.

Have you watched Top Gun? Does the idea of working with planes –  roaming around runways and hangers – excite you? 

If yes, then the world of an Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) might be right for you. But there’s more to it than you think!

Unlike an average nine-to-five job, an AMT leads an exciting life where every day can hold a high-stakes puzzle. They’re the skilled problem-solvers who don’t get a pilot’s applause –– but to whom we all owe our lives. 

AMTs play a vital role in aviation safety. They perform inspections, diagnose problems, conduct repairs and overhauls, and meticulously document their work to adhere to strict regulations. 

According to a 2023 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, the global aviation industry will require 690,000 new maintenance technicians by 2040, making it a quickly growing career. 

Let’s take a comprehensive look at the skills required, the challenges to conquer, and this profession's rewarding career paths.

Whether you're a lifelong aviation enthusiast or simply seeking a fulfilling career with a touch of adrenaline, the world of aviation maintenance might be your perfect fit. Buckle up and prepare for takeoff!

aviation maintenance technicians working on an aircraft
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The Vital Role of Aviation Maintenance Technicians

What does it really take to be an AMT? What challenges do they face, and what rewards do they reap? 

Well, the job is certainly more than turning wrenches and tightening bolts. It's a career that demands a unique blend of technical prowess, unwavering dedication, and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

AMTs are the backbone of the aviation industry, ensuring every aircraft is safe and reliable for flight. Their responsibilities are diverse and demanding

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), aircrafts require maintenance, preventative maintenance, and alterations – performed in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91 – to remain airworthy. AMTs ensure this by adhering to strict guidelines and detailed protocols.

Understanding the Value of Aviation Maintenance  Technicians

Aviation Maintenance Technicians are the unsung heroes of air travel. Their meticulous work prevents accidents, saving countless lives and billions of dollars in potential damages. 

According to Airports Council International (ACI) World, the global passenger volume in 2023 was projected to be approximately 8.6 billion passengers — a testament to the critical role AMTs play in enabling global connectivity and economic growth. 

Their expertise keeps the world moving, literally.

Aviation Maintenance Technician Job Description

The tasks assigned to aviation technicians differ according to the AMT’s specific skills and specializations, as well as the needs of their employer. 

Overall, the following tasks are generally a part of an AMT’s career:

  • Routine Maintenance: Scheduled maintenance activities are vital for preventing in-flight malfunctions. These include system checks and adjustments, oil changes, lubricating components, and replacing worn parts. 
  • Inspection: Thoroughly inspecting aircraft structures, systems, and components to identify any signs of wear, damage, or malfunction, thereby preventing potential issues.  
  • Troubleshooting: When issues arise, AMTs use specialized tool, diagnostic equipment, and their technical expertise to troubleshoot problems and determine the best course of action.
  • Repairs and Modifications: Repairing, replacing, or modifying malfunctioning components to improve an aircraft’s performance and safety.
  • Documentation: Meticulously documenting all maintenance and repair activities to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
  • Overhaul: Occasionally conducting major overhauls of aircraft engines and other complex systems.

The Market Demand and Career Outlook

The demand for skilled aviation maintenance technicians is strong and growing. 

  • Average Salary: As of 2023, the median pay for these positions was a hefty $75,400 per year

Factors like the increasing number of airplanes in service and the retirement of experienced AMTs drive this growth.

That's a lot of opportunities to join a field that's not only in demand but also financially rewarding.

Better yet, both job growth rates and salary can increase based on your skills, specializations, and experience. 

If you’re looking to change careers, now might be a great time to consider this industry!

aviation maintenance technician

Diverse Paths of Aviation Maintenance Technicians

This field is dynamic and holds many possibilities – mainly due to the wide range of duties that AMTs perform, many of which depend on their different specializations and certifications. 

A typical career path involves obtaining Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certifications and becoming an A&P mechanic. This certification allows them to work on all aspects of the aircraft, both structural and engine-related.

Let’s get into what this means: 

  • Airframe Mechanics: Specialize in the aircraft's structure and systems that don't directly relate to the engine. These include the fuselage, wings, landing gear, control surfaces, hydraulic systems, and pneumatic systems. 
  • Powerplant Mechanics: Specialize in aircraft engines and their associated systems, including turbines, propellers, fuel systems, ignition systems, and exhaust systems.

Other specializations, many of which overlap or are subsumed within others, include:

1. Structures Mechanic

Structures mechanics hold an A&P license, but they focus primarily on the aircraft's structural components, including the fuselage, wings, tail, landing gear, and other parts of the skeleton.

The scope of their work can even extend to interior components. This work includes:

  • Cabin Structures: Seats, overhead bins, partitions, and other interior structures that contribute to the aircraft's overall integrity.
  • Doors and Hatches: Proper functioning and sealing of doors, emergency exits, and other access points.
  • Interior Panels and Trim: Repairing or replacing damaged panels, trim, and other cosmetic elements of the cabin.

However, it is important to note that the distinction between "Structures Mechanics" and "Systems Mechanics" can get blurred when it comes to components like doors and hatches. 

These components are part of the aircraft's structure but have mechanical and electrical systems requiring maintenance.

2. Systems Mechanic

Systems mechanics also hold an A&P license but specialize in the aircraft's complex systems that aren't part of the engine or the basic structure

This includes hydraulics, pneumatics, environmental control systems, pressurization systems, landing gear systems, and more.

Depending on whether they have in-depth knowledge of specific system types, it can get even further specialized.

systems mechanic

3. Sheet Metal & Composite Technicians

Sheet metal and composite technicians are different specializations, but they both fall under the broader category of Airframe Mechanics, as they work with aircraft's structural components.

  • Sheet metal technicians: Skilled in sheet metal cutting, forming, riveting, welding, and finishing techniques. This helps maintain and enhance fuselage panels, wings, and control surfaces. They also interpret blueprints and technical drawings.
  • Composite technicians Work with composite materials, which are made from a combination of fibers and resins and are increasingly used in modern aircraft due to their strength and lightweight properties

4. Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technician

NDT technicians use specialized techniques, such as ultrasound, X-ray, and magnetic particle inspection, to detect flaws or damage in aircraft components without causing further harm.

5. Inspector Authorization (IA)

Experienced AMTs can become Inspection Authorized (IA), which allows them to perform annual inspections and sign off on aircraft airworthiness.

6. Maintenance Planner/Scheduler

These professionals are responsible for planning and scheduling maintenance activities to ensure that aircraft are available for flight when needed and that maintenance is performed efficiently.

7. Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Inspector

QA/QC inspectors ensure that maintenance work meets regulatory standards and that all necessary documentation is completed accurately.

8. Aircraft Modification Technician

These technicians specialize in modifying aircraft for specific purposes, such as installing new avionics, upgrading interiors, or adding specialized equipment.

9. Line Maintenance Technicians

Line maintenance technicians stay on the ground, performing routine maintenance and minor repairs on aircraft between flights (on the "line").

They typically hold either Airframe or Powerplant certifications or both (A&P). 

As generalists, they work on both structural and engine-related issues but typically handle less complex tasks than those performed in a hangar or maintenance facility.

10. Helicopter Maintenance Technician:

Aircrafts include helicopters, too! 

While similar to AMTs, helicopter maintenance technicians specialize in the unique systems and components of helicopters, such as rotor systems and transmissions.

11. Avionics Technicians

Finally, we also have avionics technicians, who differ slightly from the others.

These technicians handle the aircraft's electronic systems, including navigation, communication, and instrumentation. You might be interested in a career as an avionics technician if some of the following systems appeal to you: 

  • Communication Systems: Radios, transponders, and satellite communication equipment are used for air traffic control and communication between the aircraft and ground stations.
  • Navigation Systems: GPS, inertial navigation systems, and other instruments that determine the aircraft's position and guide it to its destination.
  • Flight Control Systems: Autopilots, flight management systems, and other electronic controls that assist the pilot in flying the aircraft.
  • Radar Systems: Weather radar, terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS), and traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS) that enhance situational awareness and safety.
  • Instrument Systems: Altimeters, airspeed indicators, engine instruments, and other displays that provide crucial information to the pilot.
avionics technicians working

The Road to Becoming a Maintenance Technician

If you want to become an AMT, you'll need to meet specific education and certification requirements.

Let’s start with the basics.

  • Education: While not a strict requirement, most AMTs start with a high school diploma or equivalent, focusing on subjects like mathematics, physics, and electronics.
  • Bridging the Skill Gap: Preparing for the required Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification from scratch or attending an Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS) after switching careers can seem daunting. Luckily, you can bridge the gap with courses that deepen your technical expertise and position you for success. 

Unmudl's Unique Educational Support!

Unmudl offers several valuable courses for aspiring Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs). 

Our mechatronics courses cover a wide range of topics. They provide foundational knowledge and practical skills in electronics, mechanical systems, and troubleshooting—all critical components of aviation maintenance. 

Having a deep understanding of maintenance fundamentals will benefit your future career. Here’s a more detailed look at some of what we cover:

  • Electrical Systems: Circuit analysis, wiring, motors, and troubleshooting.
  • Hydraulics and Pneumatics: Principles, components, and systems used in aircraft.
  • Mechanical Systems: Gears, bearings, drives, and other mechanical components.
  • Automation and Controls: Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other control systems used in aviation.

Essential Mechatronics Courses and Opportunities

Designed for beginners and those looking to deepen their expertise, these courses are valuable for any budding aviation maintenance technician. 

Transitioning from Trial to Full Courses

Our free trial offers an introductory peek into our mechatronic courses. You can experience them yourself to understand if they suit your learning style and needs. 

And, of course, all without any financial obligation. Any progress made can be transferred over to the full course.

FAA Certification

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues the Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificates, which are the industry-standard credentials for AMTs.

Getting a certification requires passing the FAA’s written, oral, and practical exams.

The practical exams can be tricky –– you'll demonstrate your hands-on skills by performing various maintenance tasks under the supervision of an examiner.

Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS)

You can prepare for your certification by attending an Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS). These are educational facilities certified by the FAA. 

Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • These schools offer structured programs that typically last 18 to 24 months
  • They are designed to provide the comprehensive theoretical and practical training required to pass the FAA certification exams and enter the workforce.
  • AMTS programs cover both airframe and powerplant systems and often include hands-on training in a hangar or maintenance facility. 
  • Examples include the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Alternative Pathways: Real-World Experience 

Besides formal education, most employers look for candidates with hands-on experience. This can be gained through: 

  • Internships
  • Apprenticeships 
  • Entry-level positions 

There is also a slightly more complicated path to taking your FAA certification exam through On-the-Job Training (OJT).  

aviation maintenance technician

The Essential Skills for a Successful Aviation Maintenance Technician

Successful aviation maintenance technicians must solve complex problems, be efficient, and ensure safety. This demands a unique blend of skills and attributes.

Here are the essential skills that set exceptional AMTs apart.

Technical Aptitude

A strong foundation in mechanical, electrical, and avionics systems is non-negotiable. AMTs must understand complex schematics, diagnose intricate problems, and execute precise repairs.

Problem-Solving Skills

Aircraft systems can be complex, and unexpected issues can arise. AMTs with keen problem-solving skills can quickly identify the root cause of a problem and implement the most effective solutions.

Attention to Detail

Aviation maintenance is a high-stakes field where even minor errors can have significant consequences. AMTs must be meticulous in their work, ensuring that every bolt is tightened, every wire is connected correctly, and every procedure is followed to the letter.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial for AMTs, who often work in teams and need to properly convey information to pilots, engineers, and other technicians. 

A less discussed aspect of the communication skills needed is the ability to document maintenance activities clearly, which is essential for regulatory compliance.

Physical Stamina

The job can be physically demanding, requiring AMTs to work in confined spaces, climb ladders, and lift heavy objects. Maintaining good physical fitness is essential for staying safe and productive on the job.

Adaptability

The aviation industry constantly evolves, with new technologies and regulations emerging regularly. AMTs must be adaptable and willing to learn new skills to keep up with the changing landscape.

Passion for Aviation

A genuine interest in aviation and a commitment to safety make for a successful career in this field. 

AMTs who are passionate about their work are more likely to go above and beyond to ensure the safety and reliability of the aircraft they maintain.

The Advantages of a Career as an Aviation Maintenance Technician

The aviation industry offers plenty of benefits to those who become AMTs.

These extend beyond the previously mentioned job security and competitive salary

  • Exciting Work Environment: AMTs often work in hangars, on airfields, or in maintenance facilities, surrounded by the impressive machinery they maintain.
  • Travel Opportunities: Depending on their employer, AMTs may have the chance to travel to different locations for work and experience diverse cultures and landscapes.
  • Intellectual Challenge: Troubleshooting complex mechanical and electrical problems provides a constant intellectual challenge and satisfaction in resolving issues that ensure the safety of flights.
  • Pride in Workmanship: Knowing that your work directly contributes to the safety of passengers and crew can be immensely rewarding.
  • Hands-On Work: This career offers a satisfying and dynamic work environment for those who enjoy working with their hands and solving complex problems.
  • Growth Opportunities: With experience and additional certifications, AMTs can advance to higher positions, such as lead mechanics, inspectors, or maintenance supervisors.

Real-world Experiences of Aviation Maintenance Technicians

To better understand the role, you might be interested in reading about a day in the life of an aviation mechanic

Kris Hull, a former aviation mechanic, talks about their hectic life, the excitement of going out of town on rescue missions, and the many days with only an hour of truly heavy work.

The Path Forward: Career Growth and Specialization

The path for AMTs is a runway paved with growth opportunities. 

  • After working as a line mechanic, your expertise can propel you towards specialized roles like avionics or composite repair technician. 
  • As you gain experience, leadership positions like crew chief or maintenance manager become available. 
  • Some AMTs even leverage their skills to transition into engineering, consulting, or regulatory roles.

If interested in specializing further, several paths offer additional accreditation:

  • Inspection Authorization (IA): Experienced AMTs can obtain an IA, allowing them to perform annual inspections and sign off on aircraft airworthiness.
  • Factory Training: Manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus offer specialized training on their specific aircraft models.
  • Type Ratings: AMTs can earn type ratings for specific aircraft, demonstrating their expertise on that particular model.

As you progress along your career, you can stay current with industry advancements through ongoing training and certifications. Organizations like the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) offer continuous education opportunities for avionics technicians.

Embracing the Future: The Evolving Role of Aviation Maintenance Technicians

The aviation industry is constantly evolving, and so is the role of the AMT. 

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and predictive maintenance, are transforming maintenance. 

AMTs increasingly use data analytics and advanced diagnostics to predict and prevent potential problems before they occur, enhancing the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations.

Staying ahead of the curve requires a commitment to lifelong learning and a willingness to embrace new technologies

Unmudl: Your Runway Into Your Next Career

Unmudl's innovative approach to education and training makes it the perfect launchpad for a career in aviation maintenance. 

Our job-focused courses are designed in collaboration with industry experts to ensure you gain the skills and knowledge that employers demand.

Here's how Unmudl can help you take flight:

  • Comprehensive Mechatronics Curriculum: Our mechatronics courses cover the essential knowledge and skills to succeed as an AMT. You'll learn about electrical systems, hydraulics, pneumatics, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and more.
  • Hands-On Training: We believe in learning by doing. Our courses include hands-on labs and simulations that allow you to apply your knowledge in a realistic setting.
  • Industry-Recognized Certifications: Upon completing our courses, you'll earn industry-recognized certifications demonstrating your competence to potential employers.
  • Affordable and Flexible: Our courses are designed to be affordable and accessible, with flexible online learning options that fit your schedule.
  • Partnership with Amazon: We've partnered with Amazon to offer specialized training programs that prepare you for exciting career opportunities.

Choosing to prepare well for an aviation maintenance technician career is an investment in your future

With the growing demand for skilled professionals, competitive salaries, and diverse career paths, this field offers a rewarding and fulfilling career for those passionate about aviation and technology.

If you're ready to embark on this exciting journey, Unmudl is here to support you every step of the way. 

Start a free trial and discover how Unmudl can empower you to soar to new heights in your career!

Frequently Asked Questions

Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Last updated on:
June 13, 2024

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