Helicopter Mechanic: Salary, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a helicopter mechanic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and FAA certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Helicopter mechanics work in hangars or on runways with simple tools such as wrenches and hammers, as well as more refined diagnostic equipment. Candidates for this career must have knowledge of tools and be able to work under pressure and in various weather conditions. They generally train through programs at aviation maintenance technology schools. Like airplane mechanics and service technicians, helicopter mechanics are required to obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Association (FAA).

Required Education FAA-certified training program
CertificationFAA certification required
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 2% for aircraft mechanics and service technicians
Median Salary (2013)* $55,980 for aircraft mechanics and service technicians

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Salary of a Helicopter Mechanic

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2013, most aircraft mechanics and service technicians, including helicopter mechanics, made anywhere from $16.63 per hour or less for the lowest-paid 10% to $40.85 per hour or more for the top-paid 10%. This is between $34,580 and $84,960 annually. The median average annual salary of aircraft mechanics and service technicians, including helicopter mechanics, was $55,980.

Mechanics who work in the scheduled air transportation industry tend to earn more those working in the nonscheduled air transportation industry, but competition for employment can be fierce. Another factor that affects compensation is geographical location. The BLS states that higher salaries are paid to individuals working in certain states, including Kentucky, New Jersey and Connecticut (www.bls.gov).

Job Duties

Helicopter mechanics conduct inspections of aircraft according to specific regulations. They use instruments to measure parts in order to determine if they are worn and need replacement. Mechanics work with many different types of tools including hammers, lifts, metal cutters and punches. They also are responsible for some of the technological aspects of the aircraft and must use various software programs to diagnose the problem a particular craft may be having. Helicopter mechanics must have fine-tuned troubleshooting and problem-solving skills.

Certification Requirements

There are two types of certification offered to aviation mechanics through the Federal Aviation Association (FAA): airframe mechanics and powerplant mechanics. Many employers prefer to hire someone who has a combined A&P certificate. The FAA requires candidates to complete 18 months of work experience before they are eligible to apply for certification and 30 months if they are attempting a combined powerplant and mechanics certificate (www.faa.gov).

Most helicopter mechanics learn the necessary skills from an aviation maintenance technology school that is certified by the FAA. As of 1992, the FAA requires that a minimum of 1,900 hours of coursework be offered at certified mechanic schools training individuals for combined certification. Only 1,140 hours are needed to train students in either airframe or powerplant maintenance. In order to receive any certification, mechanics must pass written and oral exams to demonstrate their skills.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Utah (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Utah State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
        • Avionics Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Kansas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Kansas State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southern Illinois University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Avionics Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Alaska (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Alaska include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Diesel Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • Wisconsin (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Milwaukee Area Technical College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Aircraft Powerplant Tech
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
        • Autobody Repair
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Diesel Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Cultural Studies
      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
      • Public Administration
      • Religious Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Psychology and Human Behavior
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Cultural Studies
      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Geography and Cartography
      • Human and Social Services
      • Liberal Arts, Humanities, and General Studies
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
      • Public Administration
      • Religious Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Cultural Studies
      • Ethnic and Gender Studies
      • Human and Social Services
      • Philosophy
      • Political Science
      • Public Administration
      • Religious Studies
      • Social Science and Studies
      • Social Studies and History
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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