As long as there are aircraft populating the skies, Aircraft Maintenance Technicians will be in high demand. Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMT’s) are responsible for performing repairs, maintenance, installations and overhauls on all types of aircraft components and systems such as the airframe, engines, electrical and hydraulic systems, and avionics instrumentation.
AMT’s ensure aircraft are in good working order, operating efficiently, and adhere to the highest safety standards. Their skills, professionalism, and diligence are highly valued in many diverse aviation-related fields, from commercial airlines, flight schools, government/military facilities, corporations, and aircraft maintenance and repair stations.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manages and controls standards for the education and certification of AMT’s. Certification provides an AMT with the authority to inspect and approve aircraft for flight. Generally, AMT’s must receive certifications from the FAA before working on aircraft, or they must work under the supervision of a certified AMT if they have not obtained the certification. An AMT can obtain certifications as an Airframe Technician, Powerplant Technician, or both.
To obtain the AMT certification, a series of written, oral and practical exams issued by the FAA will need to be passed for each certification requested. The written exams are computer-based, multiple choice exams that include a General Test, Airframe Test, and Powerplant Test, depending on the certification.
During the oral portion of the test, an FAA Designated Examiner (DME) will ask questions and engage discussions on a number of maintenance subject areas. The practical portion is where maintenance tasks are given that must be accomplished correctly to demonstrate to the FAA that you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be an AMT.
Aircraft Maintenance Technician Training
There are three major methods to obtain the required AMT training to pass the FAA exams.
These nationwide AMT training schools have been qualified by the FAA to provide the training for the AMT certifications.
These schools offer courses that cover aircraft inspections, engine maintenance, and fuel, hydraulic and electrical systems that comprise the Airframe and Powerplant certifications. Many schools offer avionics courses that also cover electronics and instrumentation.
The courses take 12-24 months to complete and upon graduation, you will be better prepared to take the FAA’s exams. Graduates from an AMT school generally have a higher starting salary than individuals who received on-the-job training.
An on-the-job training program is where the technician will work under the supervision of a certified AMT for a minimum of 18 months for either the Airframe or Powerplant Certificate. Both certifications can be obtained by completing 30 months of on-the-job training in the appropriate fields.
Documentation must be provided as proof the required amount of experience was obtained which could include a detailed log book or notarized statement from the employer, pay stubs, or some other proof the on-the-job training requirement was met.
Joining one of the armed forces is a way many AMTs get the training and experience working in aircraft maintenance. Military experience is highly regarded in the aviation industry, and the training is paid. You must be in a military occupational specialty for which the FAA gives credit for the military service. Some colleges and other AMT training programs will also give credit for military service as an AMT.
Documentation will need to be provided to the FAA from the military employer to certify the occupational specialties that were worked in, types of aircraft or powerplants worked on, and the service length and location.
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