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Aircraft Mechanic, Aviation Maintenance Technicians, Aviation Maintenance Schools
Skills & Other Requirements
Aircraft mechanics must do careful and thorough work that requires a high degree of mechanical aptitude. Employers seek applicants who are self-motivated, hard-working, enthusiastic, and able to diagnose and solve complex mechanical problems. Agility is important for the reaching and climbing necessary to perform the job. Because they may work on the top of wings and fuselages on large jet planes, aircraft mechanics must not be afraid of heights.

Rapidly changing aircraft technology means that aircraft mechanics are constantly updating their skills and knowledge to maintain aircraft in safe flying condition. Advances in computer technology, aircraft systems, and the materials used to manufacture airplanes have made this career a more highly professional and technical occupation than ever before.

Career Advancement
The normal course of career advancement for an aircraft mechanic, as he/she gains work experience, is from assistant to line mechanic to lead mechanic (or crew chief). Some mechanics pursue the additional training they need to become inspectors who review the work of other mechanics, perform required inspections, and may advance to become lead inspectors or inspectors for the FAA. With additional business and management training, some mechanics become maintenance directors that manage a crew of aircraft mechanics and other maintenance personnel; and others start their own aircraft maintenance facilities.

Most commercial airlines are reluctant to hire mechanics with new A&P certificates or new associate's degrees in electronics. Therefore, most aircraft mechanics begin their careers working at Fixed Based Operators, repair stations, and aircraft manufacturing, service and maintenance companies to gain the actual work experience. However, some new A&P mechanics begin working for regional airlines and other companies due to their schools’ partnerships with various employers.

Union Memberships
Almost 4 in 10 aircraft mechanics are members of or covered by union agreements. The principal unions are the:
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Transport Workers Union of America
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association

Working Conditions
Aircraft mechanics may work in indoor areas such as hangars and repair shops, or outdoors. The weather conditions outdoors vary with geographic locations and seasons. Mechanics often work under time pressure to maintain airline flight schedules or, in general aviation, to keep from inconveniencing customers. Under these conditions, mechanics must work as fast as possible without sacrificing the safety standards of the aircraft or its passengers, and this can cause the job to be stressful.

Mechanics occasionally lift or pull heavy objects weighing as much as 50 pounds. They often stand, lie, squat, or kneel in awkward positions and occasionally must work in tight spaces and awkward positions on platforms, scaffolds, and ladders. Noise from aircraft and ground equipment is a common concern for mechanics wherever they work, so ear protection is necessary. Minor scratches and skinned knuckles from tool slippage are the most frequent injuries at work.

Hours and Benefits
Aircraft mechanics usually work 40 hours a week on 8-hour shifts around the clock, with occasional overtime for various reasons such as the peak summer season, backlog of maintenance, etc. The work shifts are typically assigned to mechanics based on seniority; and the most senior mechanics usually work the day shifts and junior (new) mechanics for the company work the evening shifts. The benefits will vary for each employer. The typical benefits include vacation, life and health insurance plans, and retirement benefits. Airlines also extend flight benefits in the form of free or reduced air travel to employees and their families. Experienced aircraft mechanics can also advance to positions of greater responsibility in aviation-related industries, which can lead to even better compensation and benefits.

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Sources by: Federal Aviation Administration, US Occupational Handbook, and U.S. Department of Defense.



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