aeromechzone logo

Is it hard to achieve a career as an aircraft mechanic?

Is it hard to achieve a career as an aircraft mechanic? 

For those of you considering a career as an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanic, one of the biggest questions we know you’ll have is how easy will it be to land a job.  I’m sure you hear and know of many individuals that go through endless hours of study whether at university or college, only find themselves with all the gear and no idea.  You got every qualification under your belt, yet careers in the big wide world seem both limited, or full of unrealistic expectations, a big one bothering most young people is the demand for experience.  

So, how easy is it? 

Jobs as aircraft mechanic have forever been in demand, and generally speaking it is relatively easy to find a job.  Remember, like most jobs you have to start somewhere.  Below are just some of the reasons why Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanic jobs are very accessible for most people new to the game; 

The demand for mechanics: 

There is a very high demand for Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanics, and the demand just keeps growing exponentially. Just one reason for this is age.  As you can imagine, it is not a trade that can be learnt overnight, and even when you think you’ve read all the theory and have all the correct tools, there is just wisdom behind the experience with plenty of tricks of the trade you need to learn.   

A report from the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) found that even though there are more than 286,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics, 27 percent of the workforce is aged 64 and above. Furthermore, the report also found that while 30 percent of the aviation mechanics workforce is at or near retirement age, new entrants into the field only make up 2 percent of the workforce population each year.  This allows for there to be a tremendous drive for Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanic recruitment across the world, and the perfect time for you to enter the trade with an abundance of opportunity!   

To put this more into perspective, Boeings recent Pilot and Technician outlook (2021-2040) estimates there will be a shortage of 193,000 Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanics in north America and a staggering 769,000 worldwide by 2038.  

Again, as we’ve seen in the past statistics like these simply make the career more desirable for the individual, so you will see company salaries and benefits getting more and more enticing to allow for bigger recruitment drives. 

Covid-19 

We saw Covid-19 put the world on pause, and through the course of the pandemic several industries and businesses folded.  We saw border closures and lockdown restrictions bring the aviation sector to its knees.  Many industries put mechanics in redundancy plans, and anyone working for an airline was under huge amounts of stress.  What you must consider however, is that even though aircraft are in long term storage and not being flown, they still require substantial amounts of maintenance.  That is the beauty of the trade, no matter what the circumstances there must always be a sufficient amount of mechanics and certifiers employed on the books, and no matter how light or heavy the flying schedule is, aircraft will always require work.  Even at the time of writing this article in the pandemic, there are still currently over 2,000 job listings for A&P Mechanics on JSfirm.  

Post pandemic 

The aviation field was booming pre-pandemic, with companies producing record profits.  More aircraft were on order and industries were expanding flights and destinations, the aviation trade was growing and even though the pandemic put a stop to this, we are still seeing airlines forecasting huge growth.  The industry is recovering each day as restrictions ease, and airlines are going back to their normal schedules.  All the mechanics who may have found themselves out of a job, are now being called back and as people are desperate to travel the airlines are having to supply to this huge demand.  As airlines expand fleet size grows and of course A&P mechanic job opportunities increase.  Its definitely working in your favour.  As an example, United airlines are increasing to a huge 22 flights between the US and UK starting 2022, so it’s clear the pandemic definitely slowed progress down, but for sure did not halt it.   

The better qualified you are of course, the easier it is to find a job.  Below are just some of the ways to increase your employability, after finishing any AMT training 

A&P License: 

It is not a necessity to hold an airframe and powerplant license (A&P) to work on aircraft.  It is perfectly doable to get work as an unlicensed mechanic and eventually obtain the A&P license once you get enough experience and theoretical knowledge. For students with 30 months experience working on airframes and powerplants you can obtain an A&P without going to a school as the experience qualifies you to sit the exams.  For anyone without this or who does not fit in this category, their only route is to attend an AMT school to obtain the necessary qualifications and experience.   

For students new to the game, you must attend an AMT school and attend an A&P program.  The majority of programs will take around 2 years to complete, and will lead you to sit your oral, practical, and three written exams to finally achieve your Airframe and Powerplant license (A&P) 

The experience route: 

Like most jobs, experience is the best route to job offers.  If you have previous experience as an aircraft mechanic, you will be able to take your A&P without needing to attend a school.  As we mentioned students with 30 months experience will be able to use this as a way in to the A&P examinations.  Please note, the content for sitting your airframe, general and powerplant license is quite meaty, so there are prep schools all over the country offering programs for you to brush up on your theory.  Here at aero-mech zone we have plenty of articles pointing you in the right direction, and can also recommended examiners and test centres, as well as prep school.  Do remember, with the right amount of hard work and dedication (and of course the step by step guide we offer) you will be able to earn your A&P off your own back without the need for prep schools, saving you plenty of time and money, especially for international students.   

Aircraft type courses: 

While training or even working as an AMT, you will find yourself doing several aircraft type courses in order to further your knowledge base on new aircraft types, and different fleets within the company you work for. Before any of this the main thing to consider is whether you would want to work on helicopters or aircraft, and if you prefer larger commercial jets or military aviation.  We have articles explaining the pros and cons of each, but at the end of the day its most important to consider your own preferences, skills, and lifestyle. 

With type courses, you may want to master a trade, and have one aircraft type you dedicate to having a wealth of expertise and knowledge on, or you may want to chase as many aircraft types as possible, opening up more job opportunities for airlines to employ you to work on their ever-expanding fleets.  

You can choose to do these type courses off your own back after gaining you’re A&P, or wait till your employed, as most companies will supply this kind of specific training.  

As a general rule of thumb, its usually a better idea to get as many aircraft types as possible, increasing your employability.  

Other points to consider –  

Don’t think you’re stuck just to aviation! 

AMT training and an airframe and powerplant license may be aimed specifically at the aviation industry, but this isn’t always where most mechanics end up.  

As we have mentioned elsewhere on our site, one of the greatest options is amusement parks.  The industry loves to hire AMTs as a lot of the skills are highly transferable. Disney for one loves to hire these mechanics, and it comes with pros such as an exciting work environment and living in some of the best states.  

What about the salary? 

Because A&P Mechanics are in such high demand and have such an important role in the aviation industry, salaries and benefits match this. According to salary.com, the average salary of an A&P Mechanic working on jets is $87,000 a year.  

Of course, starting out as a mechanic will have you on a lower wage, and as you build up experience and qualifications, you will have a salary to match that, along with some great benefits.  

One thing to note is The Return on Education (ROE) for A&P Mechanics. For every $1 you spend on your education, you can expect to earn about $63 back throughout your career. This ROE is higher than that of doctors at $22 and engineers at $40. AMT schools are an excellent investment, and it’s one that will pay off for you in the long term.  

About Us:

We are the number one resource for exploring the world of Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics.

Find out more about the skills, challenges, and rewards of this exciting profession.

Popular Articles

Subscribe now

Get the most up to date news and information in the Aircraft Maintenance Industry