To work as an aircraft mechanic, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- complete formal FAA-certified training;
- have work experience; and
- pass written and oral exams.
Education after high school
Most aircraft mechanics learn their skills at a professional-technical school. Training programs last two or four years and you earn an associate or bachelor's degree. In school you learn about turbine engines and aviation electronics. You also learn to use tools and equipment. To become a certified mechanic, you must study at a school certified by the FAA.
The FAA requires 18 months of work experience before you can become a certified aircraft mechanic. For an airframe and power plant (A & P) certificate, you need 30 months of work experience. You can sometimes substitute a degree from a training program for work experience.
A few aircraft mechanics are trained on the job by experienced mechanics. Training may take two years or more. Mechanics who enter the job with some experience will go through less on-the-job training.
The military trains people to be aircraft mechanics and avionics technicians. Training lasts three to 17 weeks for aircraft mechanics. For avionics technicians training lasts 18 to 25 weeks. Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses.
The time you spend in the military as an aircraft mechanic may give you enough work experience to satisfy the requirements for FAA certification. However, military training is specialized. Thus, many military-trained mechanics complete a full training course at a professional-technical school to become certified.