Airline Aviation Maintenance Mechanic Job Description & Salary Information
Aircraft mechanics perform one of the most important jobs in the aviation industry. Without their hands on knowledge of a plane’s inner workings, it would not be safe to travel in an aircraft. Many mechanics at airports are responsible for making routine inspections to ensure a plane is fit to travel. Their inspections must conform to FAA guidelines and follow standardized safety procedures. A typical day could include anything from checking landing gear, air conditioning systems, pressure gauges and valves to diagnosing an engine problem in the jet engine of a major airline.
The job may mean applying a sheet of plate metal to an aircraft wing and running diagnostics when the job is done to make sure all instruments are still functioning properly. These mechanics may work in hangers, in repair stations, on flight decks, or even on the runway for eight hour shifts, at any time of day, and with frequent overtime. Another difficulty of the job is that the mechanic must frequently lie or stand in awkward or precarious positions to reach the access points for individual maintenance and lift a maximum of 70 lbs of equipment up to current work area. Regardless of the individual day, the job will never be dull.
The qualifications to become an aircraft mechanic can be rather daunting. In addition to being at least 18 years of age and having a high school diploma, a mechanic must either have two years experience working with air frames or power plants (A&P) or must have graduated from an FAA approved technician school. Two year degrees are not necessary, but are typically preferred. Oral, written, and practical examinations are also a standard part of the hiring process.
While it may seem like a difficult field to get into, the United States government employs roughly 100,000 avionics mechanics to work on military contracts. In the civilian market, airlines employ roughly 50,000 mechanics, especially in major traffic areas like New York and Los Angeles. Another 85,000 aviation maintenance mechanics work for private airfields.
Salary & Compensation
The average starting pay rates for an aircraft mechanic range from $16.00 to $27.00 an hour. An experienced aviation maintenance mechanic may make up to $45.00 per hour after a few years of work history. In addition to job experience, location and employer represent factors affecting salary rates for an aviation maintenance mechanic. Paid holidays, insurance programs, sick leave, and 401(k) retirement plans often exist as work benefits for aviation mechanics.