How to Become an A&P Mechanic

Posted: July 20, 2020 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 7 minutes

A&P Mechanic

Now is the perfect time to become an A&P Mechanic. Demand for A&P Mechanics has never been higher, meaning that when you choose to enter this profession, you’re setting yourself up for a long, stable career. Even if you know that you want to be an A&P Mechanic, you may be a little unclear on exactly how to make your dream come true.

How do you become an A&P Mechanic?

A&P Mechanics are also known as aviation maintenance technicians (AMT). A&P stands for airframe and Power Plant, meaning that A&P mechanics are licensed to work on and maintain the external (airframe) and engine (Power Plant) parts of an aircraft. Most AMT schools focus on airplane maintenance, but there are helicopter maintenance programs as well. Both are in high demand because of the growing helicopter and airplane industries, ensuring graduates a job for years to come.

If working on and maintaining aircraft sounds like something you’d enjoy, then becoming an A&P Mechanic may be perfect for you.

Become an A&P Mechanic

Requirements to Become a Certified A&P Mechanic
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Read, write, and speak English
  • Attend an FAA-approved AMT school OR have 30 months of experience with airframe and Power Plant maintenance
  • Pass a written, oral, and practical exam

Once students pass exams they become a licensed A&P mechanic and are able to get a job in this valuable industry.

As an A&P mechanic, graduates service most types of aircraft. Because every aircraft is different, they often require different maintenance techniques. This means that students learn how to work on many types of aircraft while in school and working in the industry. The more types of aircraft graduates can service, the more desirable they are to employers.

Choosing an AMT School

The first step to getting an A&P license is choosing an AMT school. There are many AMT schools throughout the country and finding the right school for YOU should be the goal.

It’s important to attend an AMT school that has up-to-date curriculum and teaches the latest procedures. Most AMT schools still operate under old FAA regulations that don’t allow new technology and updated procedures to be taught to students. This is a problem because the students who graduate from these schools may not have all the skills necessary for the current industry and aircraft.

In January of 2020, the FAA authorized Southern Utah University's Aviation program to start training AMT students using an updated curriculum. Right now, SUU Aviation is the only AMT school authorized to teach the newest policies and procedures. Hopefully, the FAA will update the old policies soon so that other schools can begin teaching with the updated curriculum as well.

Find Funding for the Program

The cost to become an A&P mechanic depends on the AMT school. For a two-year program, students can expect to pay around $40,000. This sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that A&P mechanics make quite a bit of money once they have experience and an established career. In fact, the Return on Education (ROE) for A&P mechanics is even higher than for doctors, lawyers, and pilots. The ROE for A&P mechanics is $63, meaning that for every $1 spent on education, graduates can expect to earn $63 back in a career.

For now, though, you’ll have to find a way to fund your AMT training. Attending an AMT school that’s attached to a university provides the opportunity to have access to federal financial aid and student loans. And there are plenty of scholarships out there for AMT students. Attend a non-university AMT school removes access to all funding, but some scholarships will still be available.

SUU Aviation A&P Mechanic

Attending an AMT School

AMT students go through rigorous training to ensure they are capable of performing maintenance on any aircraft. Most AMT schools require students to purchase their own tools so that they can continue using them throughout their schooling and future jobs. The school should provide a list of tools to purchase before classes begin. Some AMT schools, like SUU Aviation, are able to get students big discounts on their tools if they go through certain major tool companies. 

Most AMT programs will include classes and maintenance labs. Labs give students the chance to work on the actual aircraft and practice lessons taught in class. Depending on the training, students may be able to work on the actual aircraft used by pilots. At an AMT school attached to a flight school, A&P students will likely work on the aircraft used by the flight students.

Most programs take about two years to complete, but it depends on the training. At the end of the program, students are eligible to take the written, oral, and practical exams and obtain an A&P license.

The Nontraditional Route - No AMT School

Mechanics working on aircraft without a license but under the close supervision of a licensed mechanic, may not need to go to school. To qualify for the license, mechanics need 18 months of experience with either airframes or Power Plants or 30 months of experience working on both at the same time. Mechanics that pass the FAA written, oral, and practical exams, are able to get an A&P license.

It’s rare that a future mechanic is able to take this route to his or her A&P license. There’s no guarantee that a company will hire a mechanic without previous experience, and if they are hired, they’ll be doing work at a low wage until licensed. 

Many future A&P mechanics prefer to attend school and get instruction in a hands-on classroom setting rather than going straight into the industry to work with no previous experience. The idea of working on aircraft while still unlicensed is daunting to a lot of people. If this is the case, it’s best to find an AMT school and get proper training. At an AMT school, you’ll still be working on real aircraft and learning valuable skills, but there won’t be the level of scrutiny that this other option holds.

Finding Work as an A&P Mechanic

Learn what it takes to become an A&P Mechanic at SUU

After obtaining an A&P license, there are many career options for an A&P mechanic. Many mechanics go to work for an airline, flight school, or general aviation operation. Another option is to work for an amusement park. Amusement parks love to hire A&P mechanics to maintain the rides because the same basic principles apply to both aircraft and rollercoasters. No matter what route you decide to go, there are job opportunities for A&P mechanics practically anywhere in the world.

If you go into aviation maintenance because you love aircraft and aviation, then staying in the aviation world will probably be the best option for you. If you got into aviation maintenance because you love fixing things and working with your hands, then you may choose to leave the aviation industry and work at an amusement park or another place hiring A&P mechanics instead.

Beyond an A&P License

Beyond an A&P license, an Avionics Technician license gives mechanics training in avionics specific electronic equipment. This isn’t required to get a job working as an A&P mechanic, but to get a job as an avionics technician, an Avionics Technician license might be a good idea. Having this extra certification makes mechanics more valuable to employers and may raise the salary.

Become an A&P Mechanic at SUU

SUU's AMT School

SUU Aviation has one of the best AMT programs in the country. SUU Aviation is the first school approved by the FAA to train AMT students on new, updated curriculum and practices. Meaning students get the most up-to-date training available.

SUU Aviation’s AMT program takes less than two years and will qualify students to take the AMT license exams. Upon graduation, students are ready to enter the industry and start working as an A&P mechanic right away. Graduates also have an associate’s degree, which gives them more job opportunities.

 

As you look at becoming an A&P mechanic, start by researching AMT schools and figuring out which school is best for you. Prepare to be accepted to AMT school by getting good grades and preparing funding, or by learning if your GI bill will cover the costs of the training (spoiler alert: at SUU Aviation, your GI bill WILL cover training costs). If becoming an A&P Mechanic is your dream, don’t let anything stop you from making it your reality.


Produced by SUU Aviation

Aircraft mechanics are in high demand around the world. SUU Aviation students can become an aircraft mechanic in under two years through the most up-to-date program in the country. Become an A&P mechanic with SUU's new A&P program

Tags: College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Aviation

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