Become an Aircraft Inspector: Education and Career Roadmap
Find out how to become an aircraft inspector. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in aircraft inspection.
Do I Want to Be an Aircraft Inspector?
An aircraft inspector is responsible for determining the airworthiness of an aircraft and knowing what remedies must be applied if the aircraft isn't ready to leave the ground. Aircraft inspectors also do regular maintenance inspections and maintain inspection logs.
Inspectors must be comfortable with heights and small places, as they will need to assess the safety of parts all over airplanes, including their exteriors and crawl spaces. While much of aircraft inspectors' time is spent completing evaluations, they also work in an office setting to draw up reports and recommendations. Most aircraft inspectors work full-time, although the hours logged may include day, night, and weekend shifts.
While an associate's degree is common for these workers, aircraft inspectors are required to hold certification in Airframes and Powerplants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The table below summarizes common requirements for aircraft inspectors.
|Degree Level||An associate's degree is common, but some employers prefer an applicant with a bachelor's degree**|
|Degree Field||Avionics, aviation technology or aviation maintenance management**|
|Experience||To work with air carrier operations, one must have at least one year of pilot's experience; to work in general safety inspections, one must have aircraft maintenance experience within the past three years***|
|Certification||The FAA requires that aspiring inspectors have certification on Airframes and Powerplants (A&P) and may require a pilot's license in order to complete other experience requirements***|
|Key Skills||Attention to detail, verbal and written communication, manual dexterity**|
|Computer Skills||Knowledge of programs like Access Software AIRPAX, computerized aircraft log manager software, Metis Systems MainTrack, Mxi Technologies Maintenix, Sacramento Sky Ranch Mechanic's Toolbox, database software and engine analysis software*|
Sources: *Occupational Information Network, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***Federal Aviation Administration.
Step 1: Obtain Training
Training for aspiring aircraft inspectors typically results in a 2-year or 4-year degree. The FAA requires the completion of both knowledge and experience requirements. The experience can vary depending on the type of duties that an individual performs.
Aspiring aircraft inspectors can obtain their training through a technical school or college approved by the FAA in preparation for the A&P examinations. Prior to enrolling in a program, it's important to ensure that it's recognized by the FAA, otherwise experience and education gained may not count toward exam qualification.
- Gain experience in an internship or apprenticeship. An aspiring aircraft inspector needs experience to qualify for the A&P exam. Many colleges can provide assistance in finding internships.
Step 2: Take the A&P Examination
An important qualification required by employers of aircraft inspectors is the A&P certification. Passing this examination demonstrates both academic and practical knowledge of what makes an aircraft airworthy as well as how to address any problems. The FAA believes that in order to approve an aircraft for takeoff, an inspector must have firsthand knowledge of exactly what to look for. The examinations are comprised of oral, written and practical components.
Step 3: Get a Job
Aircraft inspectors work all hours of the day and night. They must be able to work under pressure since airplanes are inspected for safety standards and airworthiness prior to takeoff, and delays can cause schedule changes for airlines. Aircraft inspectors work in all types of weather conditions, and few have employment opportunities that allow them to work in climate-controlled environments.
Step 4: Maintain Certification
The FAA indicates that inspectors must gain continuing education to remain eligible. Inspectors have several options for earning continuing education (CE) credits, including CE courses, experience and an oral test. To be eligible for renewal, candidates must have current mechanics certification, pass a written test and pass one of several other approved conditions.
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