How to Become an A&P; Mechanic

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Aircraft maintenance is a very complex field that requires the work of a variety of professionals. Airframe and powerplant mechanics, commonly called A&P mechanics, are specially trained workers that work of all parts of an aircraft except for the instruments.


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What does an A&P mechanic do?

A&P mechanics inspect, test, maintain, and repair a variety of aircraft. They maintain, repair, and replace a variety of parts such as landing gear, wings, tail assembly, fuselage, control cables, fuel and oil tanks, and propeller assembly. They use test equipment, gauges, and hand tools to check, adjust, align, and calibrate the systems of the aircraft. They inspect and assess the engines and other parts for wear, cracks, breaks, malfunctions, and leaks. They also assemble and install mechanical, plumbing, electrical, structural, and hydraulic mechanisms, and parts. A&P mechanics often read and interpret aircraft maintenance manuals and specifications to assist them in their work.

What kind of training does an A&P mechanic need?

A&P mechanics must have at least a high school diploma. Most employers require applicants to have completed a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved training program in avionics, avionics maintenance and management, and avionics technology. Prospective A&P mechanics typically complete courses in physics, computer science, chemistry, mechanical drawing, aviation electronics, turbine engines, and composition materials. Most employers provide on the job training to enable new A&P mechanics to learn the policies and procedures of the position. Most A&P mechanics gain professional A&P mechanic certification from the FAA. The requirements include a minimum of 30 months of related work experience, completion of an approved training program, and passing written and oral examinations. A&P mechanics must complete continuing education on a regular basis to keep their skills up to date and maintain their certification.

What are the prospects for a career as an A&P mechanic?

Employment of A&P mechanics is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and growth of the airline industry will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for A&P mechanics with advanced education and extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace A&P mechanics that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do A&P mechanics make?

As of December 2009, the average annual salary for A&P mechanics is $38,000; average annual A&P mechanic salaries vary greatly on location, industry, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as an A&P mechanic is a great choice for people with a strong interest in airframe and powerplant maintenance of a variety of aircraft. A&P mechanics must a solid understanding of the structure and maintenance of many different types of aircraft. Mechanical aptitude, physical stamina, eye-hand coordination, detail orientation, determination, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. A&P mechanics must also have excellent communication and ability to work effectively as part of a team.

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