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How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic


How to Become an Aircraft Mechanic
Photo© Andrew Buttita/flickr

Aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs) are responsible for performing repair, preventative and routine maintenance on all kinds of aircraft and helicopters. FAA certified aircraft mechanics (also called Airframe & Powerplant mechanics or A&P mechanics) are in demand right now. The military, airlines, government, and many other employers are hiring aicraft mechanics.

AMTs need specific training and an eye for detail. They bear a large amount of responsibility when it comes to maintaining and inspecting aircraft for service.

An AMT student can choose to be an Airframe or Powerplant mechanic, or both. An A&P mechanic can also work on avionics with the appropriate training, and can also gain an inspector authorization (IA). Similar to a pilot's training, an AMT must pass FAA written, oral and practical exams. Authorized inspectors and avionics technicians require additional training.


Difficulty: Medium/Advanced

Time Required: 1-5 years or more


Here's How:

Meet the Prerequisites

If you're considering a career as an A&P mechanic, you will need to be able to read, write, speak and understand English, and you must be at least 18 years old.

To be an AMT, you must graduate from an FAA-approved school for maintenance or gain at least 18 months of on-the-job experience working on either Airframes or Powerplants, or 30 months of experience on both airframes and powerplants to get both the A&P certifications.

Finally, all applicants for an A&P certificate must pass the FAA's written, oral and practical exams.

Enter a Training Program

There are three basic routes you can take for AMT training:

Attend and graduate from one of the FAA-approved AMT training schools. These schools usually offer the full package, including both the Airframe & Powerplant certification as well as avionics training.

If the formal education environment isn't for you, consider an on-the-job training program, where you complete a minimum of 18 months of training under the supervision of a qualified mechanic for either the Airframe or Powerplant Certificate. Or, for both the A&P certifications, you would need to complete 30 months of training under a qualified mechanic.

Many AMTs originate from the military. Military experience is looked highly upon in the civilian world, and the training is paid. Many people find that earning a paycheck while serving your country is a fulfilling way of life. The FAA gives service members credit for time spent in certain occupational specialties that involve aviation maintenance. Colleges and other AMT training programs will give credit for military service as an aviation mechanic, as well.


Take the Required Tests

The Written Exams: There are three possible written exams. They include the AMT-General Test, the AMT-Airframe Test and the AMT-Powerplant Test. The General test is 60 questions. The Airframe and Powerplant tests are each 100 questions. All tests are multiple-choice and allot 2 hours for completion. A 70% or better is required to pass all of the tests.

The Practical Test: In order to demonstrate to the FAA that you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to be an AMT, you must pass a practical test made up of both an oral portion (discussion) and a practical portion (demonstration). A test must be done for each certification requested (the General, Airframe or Powerplant Certificate) and each test takes approximately eight hours. The test is given by an FAA Designated Examiner and includes 43 subject areas.


Get a Job

Search online job-finding sites like careerbuilder and Monster for available A&P jobs.

Inquire at your local airport about job openings.

Get professional memberships to organizations such as the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) or the AMT Society .

What You Need:

  • Time
  • Money
  • The appropriate textbooks and FAA Knowledge Test Guides
  • Ability to Learn
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