How Long Does It Take to Become an A&P Mechanic?

Posted: September 08, 2020 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 8 minutes

A&P Mechanics are vital to the aviation industry. Without a team of qualified mechanics maintaining the aircraft before and after each flight, airplanes and helicopters wouldn’t be able to fly, and the aviation industry would grind to a halt.  How to become an A&P Mechanic

It’s many people’s dream to become an A&P Mechanic, also known as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT). However, a lot of people don’t know how to make that dream a reality. As a writer for SUU Aviation, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to become an A&P Mechanic, and I think this information will be helpful to anyone wanting to become a mechanic. Specifically, this article will focus on how long it takes to become an A&P Mechanic.  

How long it will take you to become an A&P Mechanic depends on a couple of factors:

  • What program you attend 
  • Helicopter or airplane maintenance
  • If you have previous experience 
  • If you’re learning on-the-job or at an AMT school 

Helicopter or airplane maintenance:

When you decide to become an A&P Mechanic, you have two choices. You can choose to work mainly with airplanes or with helicopters, although many A&P Mechanics work on both. Most A&P Mechanics choose to work with airplanes because the fixed wing industry is bigger than rotor wing and there are more jobs available for airplane mechanics. However, helicopter mechanics are also in high demand and would be a great way to steer your career. 

If you want to become a helicopter A&P Mechanic, then your training may take a little longer. Most AMT schools focus on airplane maintenance and offer helicopter maintenance only at additional time and cost. Your training will likely take an extra few months if you train at a traditional AMT school.  

As far as I’m aware, the only AMT school that offers helicopter maintenance as part of the normal curriculum and actually focuses more on helicopter maintenance than airplane maintenance is SUU Aviation. At SUU Aviation, you won’t have to pay extra to get helicopter maintenance training; it’s already included in the price of the program. This means that becoming a helicopter A&P Mechanic won’t take any extra time, and you’ll actually graduate sooner than you would at a traditional AMT school. 

 Becoming an A&P Mechanic

Traditional AMT school:

There are lots of different AMT schools around the country. Finding the right school for you will take some research and maybe a few school tours, but overall shouldn’t be too difficult. All AMT schools will have the same end goal—getting you an A&P license. 

You can choose to go to an AMT school that’s attached to a university or isn’t attached to one. An AMT program that’s part of a university will allow you to graduate with an associate’s degree on top of your A&P license, which can help you find better job opportunities in the future. University programs will require you to pay tuition and fees as well as the cost of the maintenance program, so it’s up to you whether you want to go this route or not. 

Most AMT school programs (university or non-university) take about 2 years to complete. At the end of the program you’ll qualify to take the A&P license exam, which consists of written, oral, and practical sections. Once you’ve passed this exam and earned your license, you can get a job as a qualified A&P mechanic.  

A&P Mechanic 3On-the-job training:

Rather than going the traditional AMT school route, some aspiring mechanics are able to get a job working on aircraft without already having an A&P license. The FAA has strict regulations for earning your license this way and requires that you be supervised by a licensed technician until you’re able to earn your own license. 

If you choose to go this route, the FAA requires that you get 18 months of practical experience with either airframe or power plant maintenance, or 30 months working on both at same time, before you qualify to take the A&P license exam and get your license. 

To put this in perspective, you’ll probably need experience with both airframe and power plant maintenance to get a high paying mechanic job. Attending a traditional AMT school will give you the necessary experience with both of them in about 24 months, with top-notch instruction and plenty of practice, as opposed to 30 months of on-the-job training where you may not receive the specific instruction needed to be fully confident in your abilities. Of these two choices, I’d say that going the traditional AMT school route is probably a better idea because you’ll get proper instruction and it will take less time to get your license. However, there’s another choice beyond on-the-job training and traditional AMT school. There’s SUU Aviation. 


SUU Aviation:

While most traditional AMT school programs take 2 years to complete, SUU Aviation’s program takes 18 months. After attending SUU Aviation’s program, not only will you have your A&P license and certifications, you’ll also have an associate’s degree. An associate’s degree isn’t required to get a job as a mechanic, but it will put you above the competition and help you earn better pay as a mechanic. You’ll have the choice to continue your training and get a bachelor’s degree, which will put you even further above the competition. 

At SUU Aviation’s AMT program, you’ll be trained by some of the best A&P mechanics in the field. You’ll get hands-on, practical experience and will learn the best techniques for repairing and inspecting aircraft. SUU Aviation also has the biggest collegiate helicopter flight program in the nation and is the highest altitude collegiate flight school in the country. This benefits the AMT program because the school receives lots of support from the community, state, and private organizations in the aviation industry. The maintenance program has that same support, and as a student, this support extends to you. 

What really sets SUU Aviation apart, though, is the unique curriculum. Other AMT schools have to train A&P Mechanics 4students using outdated techniques and materials because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hasn’t yet updated old regulations. SUU Aviation, however, has been approved to teach students using new techniques and materials. Currently, SUU Aviation is the only AMT school authorized by the FAA to do this, as far as I’m aware. 


By attending SUU Aviation, you’ll have your A&P license sooner and will be working as a mechanic faster than if you attend another AMT school. You’ll be trained using a unique, updated curriculum, which means that your future employer won’t have to waste time or resources retraining you on correct techniques. You’ll also have an associate’s degree, which will provide more job opportunities and has other advantages. 

In the uncertain aftermath of COVID-19, SUU Aviation offers the first semester of the maintenance program completely online for those who are stuck in quarantine or would prefer online instruction. This means that even in the midst of the worldwide pandemic, you don’t need to wait to start on your maintenance training. You can get started this fall semester completely online. 

I know that many potential students have asked whether now is actually a good time to start maintenance training because of COVID-19, and the answer is yes. Keep in mind that when you start training now, it will still take two years for you to graduate and enter the industry. That means the industry will have two years to recover and grow. Within two years, the pandemic should be over, or at least greatly improved, so the industry will be ready for you when you graduate. 

Which route you should go:

Learning on-the-job will give you real-world experience and will train you in the newest techniques and materials, but may not give you the feedback and rigorous training needed to become fully comfortable with working on aircraft. 

Attending a regular AMT school will give you rigorous training and feedback and will prepare you for any situation, but won’t train you on the newest techniques and materials because of outdated FAA regulations. 

SUU Aviation offers the best of both worlds with FAA-approved updated training techniques and materials, rigorous training that will prepare you for anything, and the feedback and support needed to turn you into a pro in no time. You’ll even get an associate’s degree at the end of your training. 

In the end, it’s completely up to you which route you take to getting your A&P license. Depending on which route you go, earning your license will take between 18 and 30 months. 

Now that you know how long it takes to become an A&P Mechanic, you can start looking for AMT schools and make a plan for your future. 

A&P Mechanics 5

I’ve done a lot of research as part of my job, and I can honestly say that SUU Aviation is one of the best AMT schools in the nation. If you want to graduate with an A&P license and an associate’s degree in less time than it takes to get just a license at another school, SUU Aviation may be perfect for you. If you want to work on helicopters, SUU Aviation is a great option because it’s the only AMT school that includes helicopter maintenance as part of the standard curriculum. You’ll be completely trained on both airplanes and helicopters, which is a serious advantage in the job industry.  

To learn more about the program or to learn more about how long it takes to become an A&P Mechanic, contact SUU Aviation. If you know that you want to become an A&P Mechanic and you want all the perks that come with attending SUU Aviation, apply today. I know that you won’t regret your decision to take the leap to AMT school and train with SUU Aviation.

This article was published more than 3 years ago and might contain outdated information or broken links. As a result, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Tags: Aviation

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