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Is an A&P Mechanic the Right Career Choice for You?

Are you considering a career as an A&P Mechanic?  

Being an aircraft maintenance technician is extremely rewarding, both because of the work itself and the benefits you’ll receive. The salary expectations are high and the job satisfaction is to match. With job prospects all around the world and amazing opportunities full of benefits for you and your family, it is most certainly a career choice you will not regret.  A&P mechanics work under great pressure on a daily basis, which include those of environmental and technical natures. It is one thing to learn aviation theory, but another to be upside down in an engine carrying out intricate work in minus temperatures! It’s not a job everyone is cut out for, and it is important to know if it really is the one for you before making the big decision to take your first steps into the industry. 

A&P mechanics are also known as aviation maintenance technicians (AMT). A&P stands for airframe and powerplant, and allows certification holders to work on either the airframe, powerplant, or both. The exams consist of written, oral, and practical exams and in total there is one written exam for airframe, general and powerplant, as well as oral and practical examinations for each unit.

Of course there is a mountain of information to consider, and a lot of research is needed to determine if it is the right career path for you. We have gathered some very basic but vital questions, which you must ask yourself before getting into the industry.

Questions to ask before deciding to be an A&P Mechanic

  • Do you enjoy working with your hands, and would you prefer this more than computer-based office work?
  • Do you actually have the capabilities to work with your hands?
  • Do you work well in a team?
  • Are you ready to work unsociable shift hours, but at a higher rate of pay?
  • Do you have a passion for aviation?
  • Are you able and willing to work on your feet, lift and move heavy objects?
  • Are you happy to take full responsibility for your work?
  • Would you like to dedicate your life to a rewarding career, which could mean time away from home?

You may overlook these points as being incredibly basic, maybe even nonsensical; however, these are vital in allowing you to decide if you should take such a responsibility on. You will only find yourself in trouble later on in your career if you overlook any of these points. 

The ability and willingness to work with your hands is a highly significant factor to pay attention to. Yes, we strongly suggest that if you enjoy working with your hands, this will be the job for you. However, do you genuinely possess the capabilities to do so? You can acquire all of the aircraft-specific knowledge you need, but if you cannot physically perform the work with your own hands, you’ll find yourself in trouble. Remember that there are lives at stake, and every single aspect of your work will be accounted for. You will be held responsible should anything go wrong, and due to the nature of most airline environments, we wouldn’t recommend reliance on others to come to your aid. While hand skills can always be taught and improved upon, the knowledge and natural ability will not come smoothly for some. In fact, others may not be able to grasp the methods at all, which means that working on tools just isn’t an option. If this is the case, then you can certainly still find a career within engineering, but perhaps not with tools.

Do you enjoy working with your hands, and would you prefer this more than computer-based office work?

Picture this: a cold winter’s day in minus temperatures, and you are in your office with a hot Starbucks coffee, the perfect Spotify playlist, and central heating wrapping you up in a warm hug. This is the perfect work space for you to get things done. Now picture yourself out in those freezing temperatures covered in hydraulic fluid, rushing around maniacally trying to find a hydraulic leak in the undercarriage bay as an aircraft full of impatient passengers and catering is waiting to depart. The entire flight is lying volatile and uncertain in your hands. Sound pleasant to you? Then this is definitely the career for you! Remember, office life isn’t for everyone, and the hard outdoors isn’t for everyone either. Do what you think is right for you. One of the beauties of being an aircraft mechanic is that you are (somewhat) your own boss. Being on your feet and working on tools gives you a sense of freedom: to move, to shout, to be yourself, and to get the job done in an enjoyable manner with colleagues you can have a laugh with. What many mechanics enjoy most is that the nature of the business is not one where you have management or seniors breathing down your neck. You are trusted to accomplish the work in a timely, safe, and efficient manner and to the highest standard. 

Are you passionate about aviation?

Because the industry can be extremely demanding, a passion for aviation will be something that will benefit almost everyone within the industry. Of course, it isn’t a necessity and you could easily treat it as any other job – just a solid career that brings in a good wage to provide for you and your family. However, the job can be tough at the best of times, and like most careers, you will find yourself needing to have somewhat of a love or at least basic interest in the field. Put it this way: a bad day in the office can be corrected by simply the press of a button, but a bad day as a mechanic could be the loss of hundreds of lives, as well as your entire livelihood at stake. Within an office setting, falling out with colleagues can make life difficult whilst stationed at your desk. In stark contrast, conflicts with colleagues in the freezing cold while working in tight spaces can prove to be significantly more difficult! In this field, you and your colleagues must rely on each other and hold each other accountable. You must also make sure to stand by each other and take the responsibility to fulfill your duties to the best of your ability at all times. 

On a more positive note, remember that if aviation isn’t your thing and you find this out later on in life, theme parks love to hire mechanics. In fact, many industries will favour hiring A&P mechanics due to the nature of the work and the discipline it brings. The theory you learn within aviation mechanics is also highly transferable, as you have a comprehensive knowledge of everything in engineering from avionics to structures and engines.

Are you comfortable with being held accountable for your work? 

A&P mechanics are highly responsible for the safety of both passengers and crew. When signing off on any job-from repairs to basic seat fixes-you are saying that the aircraft is fit for flight, and should anything go wrong, you are happy to take responsibility for the work you completed. This can prove to be both stressful and uncomfortable for some, so make sure that you have confidence in your own work! You must be comfortable with this process in order for you to carry out your work safely and efficiently.

Although it tends to go unnoticed, aircraft maintenance technicians are the heroes of the aviation world. Without their expertise and hard work, aircraft would not fly and passengers would never reach their destinations. Even for aircraft that are fully fit for flight with cabin crew at the ready, the aircraft cannot leave the stand until the engineer gives the all-clear. If you think you’ve got what it takes to step up to the plate with confidence and ambition, tackling problems as they arise, and getting aircraft up into the sky safely, an A&P mechanic role will be exactly what you are looking for. 

Do you work well in a team?

While you must be able to work under high pressure on your own, you will also need to be able to work in teams. This includes knowing when to lead and when to be led. You must be able to maintain good rapport and communication, especially with higher risk jobs that could cause injury or even death. You will also, on a regular basis, find yourself in confined spaces for long periods of time with your team. This is great if you all get along well, but not so great if you struggle to maintain conversation. Working under high pressure could also be a cause for conflict; getting aircraft out on time with pressure from your supervisors could cause issues if you deem the work unrepairable at that moment in time. The aviation industry is vast and jam-packed with some memorable people of all ages, and as the work itself can be thoroughly enjoyable, it definitely is more so when you click with the people around you.

Are you willing to put in the work for a good salary?

A&P mechanics have excellent earning potential. On average they can earn around $50,000 a year. According to Salary.com, commercial jet mechanics can make in the region of $87,000. You will have the opportunity to make significantly more money working abroad, or with private jet companies. These opportunities will also provide you with unbeatable perks such as discounted travel for yourself and your family,  healthcare (depending on the employer), ample holiday leave, and a generous pension plan. Remember, the salary comes with the work you put in. The more shifts you put in, and the more aircraft types you have on your license, the greater your earning potential will be. 

Do you want to travel? 

Once you obtain your A&P qualification, the world becomes your oyster. You may find that you would like to work at major airports, or perhaps you would prefer a position with a smaller private company. Most major airlines are always hiring worldwide, which would be the perfect opportunity for you to finally fulfil your dream of moving abroad or travelling. You may even find more remote airports in the middle of the desert, which may be the thrilling new venture you’ve been looking for. Whatever your fancy, there are opportunities for anyone and everyone; and for those willing to explore new countries and working environments, this is the perfect job for you.

Are you physically capable?

Being an A&P mechanic does have certain physical requirements. You must be able to lift and move heavy objects, and work on your feet for the duration of lengthy shifts. You don’t need to have superhuman strength, but do keep in mind that you’ll often find yourself in awkward positions, carrying heavy objects, or working at heights. All may have a risk of injury, but being in good health overall will make the job a lot easier for you.   

If most of these answers and questions seem positive to you, then you are right in thinking that a career as an A&P mechanic is perfect for you. Start your training now to unlock a whole new world of opportunity, as well as a solid career path that will stay by you as you move through life.   

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