Avionics Systems Technician: Salary, Requirements & Career Info
Avionics technicians design, maintain and repair the avionics systems used to control the primary functions of an aircraft. These include radio communications, flight, engine, navigation and radar systems and other electronic instruments. Most avionics technicians are employed either by aerospace product companies in research and development of new electronics systems or for air transport companies in the direct installation and maintenance of systems.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permits avionics technicians to become licensed with a certain number of hours of practical experience, most people obtain the required experience by attending an aviation maintenance technician training program certified by the FAA. Curriculum includes 1,900 in-class hours and generally lasts 1-2 years. Graduates earn 2- or 4-year degrees in aviation technology, avionics or aviation maintenance management.
Because of technological advances in aircraft control systems, trade schools are increasingly emphasizing computer and electronic skills. Courses in physics, mathematics, chemistry and computer science are also helpful. Avionics technicians must have good verbal and written communication skills in order to submit reports and keep records of repairs and maintenance.
FAA Certification Requirements
In addition to the educational requirements, certification by the FAA requires the individual to be at least 18 years of age and pass a written, oral and practical examination. In order to keep the certificate valid, the technician must have completed at least 1,000 hours of work in the previous two years or take a refresher course plus an extra 16 hours of training in that time period (www.faa.gov). A restricted radio-telephone operator license, issued by the Federal Communications Commission, is required for avionics technicians who repair and maintain equipment used for communications.
Avionics technicians often specialize in an area such as research and development of new systems or installation and maintenance of electronic equipment. Many technicians focus further in one type of system, such as oscilloscope review, computerized guidance systems or microcircuit television microscopy.
The skills learned by avionics technicians can be applied to other skilled electronic repair occupations, such as electrical engineering. With further education, it's possible for avionics technicians to become aviation, electrical or communications engineers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual wage for avionics technicians was $55,990 in May of 2013 (www.bls.gov). The majority of technicians at that time were employed in aerospace product and parts manufacturing; top-paying positions were in management of enterprises and companies.
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