The FAA requires at least 18 months of work experience for
an airframe, powerplant, or avionics technicians certificate.
For a combined A & P certificate, at least 30 months of
experience working with both engines and airframes is required.
Many applicants complete an aviation maintenance technician
program at an FAA-approved Part 147 Aviation Maintenance School.
This training may be substituted for the work experience requirement.
FAA standards established by law require that certified aviation
maintenance schools offer students a minimum of 1,900 actual
class hours. Coursework in these certified schools normally
lasts from 18 to 30 months and provides training with the
tools and equipment used on the job. All applicants must pass
written and oral tests as well as a practical examination
to demonstrate that they can perform the work authorized by
the A&P certificate. To obtain an inspector’s authorization,
a mechanic must have held an A & P certificate for at
least 3 years.
FAA regulations also require current experience to keep the
A & P certificate valid. Applicants must have at least
1,000 hours of work experience in the previous 24 months or
take a refresher course. As new and more complex aircraft
are designed, more employers are requiring mechanics to take
ongoing training to update their skills. Recent technological
advances in aircraft maintenance necessitate a strong background
in electronics—both for acquiring and retaining jobs
in this field. FAA certification standards also make ongoing
training mandatory. Every 24 months, mechanics are also required
to take at least 16 hours of training to keep their certificate.
Many mechanics take courses offered by manufacturers or employers,
usually through outside contractors.
Aircraft mechanics trained in the US Armed Forces (Army, Air
Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard) usually acquire enough
general experience to satisfy the FAA work experience requirements
for the FAA certificate. However, jobs in the military are
too specialized to provide the broad experience required by
the FAA. Therefore, most Armed Forces’ mechanics have
to complete additional training in order to qualify for the
Airframe & Powerplant certificate. Thus many military-trained
mechanics complete a full training program at a FAA-approved
Part 147 Aviation Maintenance School to become FAA certified
mechanics, although a few receive some credit for the materials
they learned in the military. In any case, military experience
is a great advantage when seeking employment, since many employers
prefer job applicants with work experience combined with FAA
In order to receive credit for some of your military practical
experience, you should make sure you are in a military occupational
specialty for which FAA gives credit. You can get a current
list of acceptable specialties from the local FAA
Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). When you are
ready to make the transition from a military to civilian mechanic,
you must present an official letter from your military employer
certifying your length of service, the amount of time you
worked in each specialties, the make and model of the aircraft
or engine on which you got practical experience, and where
you got the experience. You cannot count time you spent training
for the specialty, only the time you spent working in the
Helpful High School Courses
If you’re interested in this career field, you should
take courses in high school that prepare you to enter college
or other postsecondary schools. Courses should include mathematics,
physics, chemistry, electronics, computer science, and mechanical
drawing are helpful, because they demonstrate many of the
principles involved in the operation of aircraft, and knowledge
of these principles is often necessary to make repairs.
Courses in English will also develop writing skills also
are important because mechanics are often required to submit
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