A&P Mechanic Training and Education Program Overviews
Airframe and powerplant mechanics, also called A&P mechanics, study aviation maintenance technology to work for airlines, contractors and aeronautics manufacturers. Training for A&P mechanics ranges from landing gear to communication systems. Programs prepare students for the Federal Aviation Administration certification and are available at certificate to bachelor's levels.
Certificate in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Students prepare for entry-level jobs in aviation maintenance through the study of hydraulics, electricity and powerplant systems. The techniques and theories taught in aviation maintenance are applicable in facilities maintenance, heavy equipment maintenance and power plants. Certificates typically take 18-24 months to complete. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate.
Training covers everything from basic aircraft terminology to welding. Students delve into the basic techniques for keeping airplanes flying and functional. Topics of study include:
- A.C. and D.C. electricity
- Mechanical drafting
- Navigation systems
- Reciprocating engine maintenance
Graduates from certificate programs are qualified for careers in aircraft maintenance and powerplant maintenance. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 112,130 aircraft mechanics and technicians employed in the field of air transportation as of May 2009 (www.bls.gov). Entry-level workers found jobs as:
- Aircraft mechanic
- Airframe mechanic
- Powerplant mechanic
Airframe and powerplant mechanics must obtain certification through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prior to beginning work. This requires completing an FAA-accredited program, as well as take and pass three examinations.
Associate Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Associate degree programs prepare students for FAA certification. Students gain classroom and practical knowledge in airframes, aircraft structures and regulations. The programs incorporate real-world experiences and hands-on training through laboratories. Applicants to associate degree programs in aviation maintenance are required to have a high school diploma.
In addition to general education requirements, future A&P mechanics learn to test, inspect, repair and alter aircraft systems. Topics studied include:
- Inspection systems
- Reciprocating engines
- Technical writing
- Turbine engine
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of aircraft and avionics mechanics and technicians were expected to increase seven percent over the 2008-2018 decade (www.bls.gov). The projected employment growth was slightly slower than the national job growth at large, anticipated to be 11% for the same time period. As of May 2009, the BLS data stated the median annual wage of aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $52,810.
Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology
Bachelor's degree tracks train students to rebuild an engine, understand how a piston engine works and weld metallic structures. Additionally, students receive broad training in technical, business and electronics topics. There are no additional prerequisites for applicants to bachelor's degree programs.
Undergraduate students learn to design and repair mechanical parts of aircrafts, keeping reliability and documentation processes in mind. Coursework includes:
- Aircraft systems
- Airframe maintenance
- Electrical systems
- Exhaust systems
Professionals find work in air transportation support services, aerospace product manufacturing, the federal government and nonscheduled air transportation. With experience, workers move up to the following positions:
- Accident investigator
- Aircraft maintenance supervisor,
- Aviation safety inspector
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