JOB OUTLOOK AND TRANSFER OPPORTUNITIES
Sample Career Pathway
- General Aviation Mechanic - Works on a wide range of aircraft often privately owned or owned by small flying clubs and businesses
- Airline Mechanic - Working for such airlines as Delta, United or Southwest
- Corporate Mechanic - Many mid to large companies have their own flight department and employ their own mechanics to maintain their fleet of aircraft
- Helicopter Mechanic - Working specifically on helicopters for law enforcement, medical, news, utility company and tourist industries
- Military Contract Mechanic - Performing the support personnel role for both stateside and oversea assignments to various branches of the Armed Services
- Aircraft Manufacture and Parts Production - Can range from aircraft testing and design to overseeing parts production work
- Aircraft Restoration and Repair Facilities Technician - Maintaining and repairing specialty aircraft and or working in systems specific repair shops
- Local, State and Federal Government Transportation Inspectors and Mechanics
AVERAGE RANGE OF PAY*
Median hourly wages of aircraft mechanics and service technicians were approx. $24.71 in May 2008. The middle 50% earned between $20.25 and $29.25. The lowest 10% earned less than $15.85 and the highest 10% earned more than $33.19. Median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of aircraft mechanics and service technicians in May 2008 were:
Scheduled Air Transportation $56,570
Federal Executive Branch $55,730
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing $54,270
Nonscheduled Air Transportation $53,610
Support Activities for Air Transportation $45,810
Median hourly wages of avionics technicians were approx. $23.71 in May 2008. The middle 50% earned between $20.10 and $28.02. The lowest 10% earned less than $16.45 and the highest 10% earned more than $30.87.
Mechanics who work on jets for the major airlines generally earn more than those working on other aircraft. Those who graduate from an aviation maintenance technician school often earn higher starting salaries than individuals who receive training in the Armed Forces or on the job. Airline mechanics and their immediate families receive reduced-fare transportation on their own and most other airlines.
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JOB MARKET INFORMATION
Most job openings for aircraft mechanics through the year 2018 will stem from the need to replace the many mechanics expected to retire over the next decade. In addition, some mechanics will leave to work in related fields, such as automobile repair, as their skills are largely transferable to other maintenance and repair occupations.
Also contributing to favorable future job opportunities for mechanics is the long-term trend toward fewer students entering technical schools to learn skilled maintenance and repair trades. Many of the students who have the ability and aptitude to work on planes are choosing to go to college, work in computer-related fields, or go into other repair and maintenance occupations with better working conditions. If this trend continues, the supply of trained aviation mechanics may not keep up with the needs of the air transportation industry.
Job opportunities will continue to be the best at small commuter and regional airlines, at FAA repair stations, and in general aviation. Commuter and regional airlines is the fastest growing segment of the air transportation industry, but wages in these airlines tend to be lower than those in the major airlines, so they attract fewer job applicants. Also, some jobs will become available as experienced mechanics leave for higher paying jobs with the major airlines or transfer to other occupations. Mechanics will face more competition for jobs with large airlines because the high wages and travel benefits that these jobs offer generally attract more qualified applicants than there are openings.
Nonetheless, job opportunities with the airlines are expected to be better than they have been in the past. In general, prospects will be best for applicants with experience and an A&P certification. Mechanics who keep abreast of technological advances in electronics, composite materials, and other areas will be in greatest demand. Also, mechanics who are willing to relocate to smaller rural areas will have better job opportunities.
*Occupational Outlook Handbook