Aircraft Mechanics & Service Technicians Careers: Employment & Salary Trends for Aspiring Aircraft Mechanics & Service Technicians

Aircraft Mechanics & Service Technicians  at a Glance

Aircraft mechanics & service technicians make sure that aircraft operate safely and efficiently. They perform everything from repair and adjustments to aircraft engines to a complete overhaul. On any given day, aircraft mechanics & service technicians may consult maintenance manuals, inspect completed work, conduct routine inspections, and document all maintenance activities in a repair log. 

Aircraft mechanics & service technicians must use a combination of brains and brawn to work through 8 and even 10 hour shifts. They must have the ability to lift more than 70 pounds on a daily basis and they may spend the days twisting and tuning into unusual positions in order to reach the many different parts of the aircraft. Aircraft mechanics & service technicians may work on several different kinds of planes or they may specialize in just one. In some cases, mechanics will specialize in one specific part of any given type/model of aircraft.

Aircraft mechanics & service technicians may work for commercial airlines or aerospace firms, oftentimes under stressful conditions in order to ensure the safety of passengers and maintain flight schedules. In most cases, mechanics will spend their days working in a hangar.

Employment Trends

Job Outlook: Average increase
Annual Openings: 9,708
Percent Growth: 10.6%
Total Jobs Held: 122,000 (2006)
Projected Employment: 135,000 by 2016
The Best 500 Jobs Overall Ranking: 256

Source: “Best Jobs for the 21st Century,” JIST Publishing 2009. Farr, Michael and Shatkin, Laurence, Ph.D.; “Salary Facts Handbook,” JIST Publishing 2008. Editors @ JIST.

Aircraft mechanics & service technician positions are expected to grow at an average rate as the U.S. economy strengthens and consumers begin to travel (for pleasure) again. In addition, job openings for skilled aircraft mechanics & service technicians should be plentiful as a result of retirement and fewer students attending trade schools versus all other schools.

Salary Trends

In 2009, aircraft mechanics & service technicians earned an average salary of $49,010 per year. This figure represents a 2.7% increase over 2008 ($47,740). Aircraft mechanics & service technicians in the 90th percentile can expect to earn around $71,780 per year, while 75th percentile aircraft mechanics & service technicians  can expect to earn $58,480 per year. Entry-level aircraft mechanics & service technicians can expect to earn a starting salary of around $31,080 per year.

Degrees and Training Programs

There are more than 170 accredited Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved schools located throughout the U.S. These schools offer degrees in aviation technology, aviation maintenance technology, and avionic. Other programs offered include:

  • Aerospace Maintenance Management
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineering
  • Aircraft Maintenance Management
  • Aviation Electronic Systems
  • Aviation Electronics Technician
  • Aviation Maintenance Technician
  • Avionics Management
  • Powerplant & Airframe Technology

In order to obtain certification by the FAA, aspiring aircraft mechanics & service technicians must complete an FAA-approved program. Most programs offer either two or four-year degrees. Aspiring aircraft mechanics & service technicians must take a minimum of 1,900 to qualify for certification.

Currently, 9.4% of all aircraft mechanics & service technicians hold a bachelor’s degree, while 30.8% hold an associate degree. 24.5% have some college, but no degree and 32.1% completed high school or equivalent.  

Coursework Required

Depending on the program, aspiring aircraft mechanics & service technicians will take minor courses in computer science, chemistry, mathematics, physics, electronics, and mechanical drawing. Aircraft mechanics & service technicians are often required to write reports, so students will also have to take a number of English and writing courses as well.

Major courses will cover engine disassembly and repair, repair of hydraulic, fuel, and electrical systems, and repair of aluminum, steel, and fiberglass airframes and coverings. It is important to note that education and training also focuses on newer technologies such as aviation electronics, turbine engines, and composite materials.

Did you know that the first United States coast to coast airplane flight occurred in 1911 and took 49 days? Today, this same flight takes an average of 5 hours and 16 minutes. Did you also know that a 747-400 has six million parts (half of which are fasteners) made in 33 different countries? Between the millions of plane parts and the rapid advances in technology, aircraft mechanics & service technicians certainly have their work cut out for them!