Helicopter Mechanic: Salary, Duties and Requirements
Helicopter mechanics fall into the same category as airplane mechanics and service technicians. They 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. Candidates are also required to obtain certification from the Federal Aviation Association.
Salary of a Helicopter Mechanic
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most aircraft mechanics and service technicians, including helicopter mechanics, make anywhere from $16.92 to $36.86 per hour or between $35,190 and $76,660 annually in May 2012. The mean average annual salary of aircraft mechanics and service technicians, including helicopter mechanics, was $55,690.
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 Maryland, Connecticut and Tennessee (www.bls.gov).
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.
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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