Avionics Technicians Overview
Most avionics technicians attend one of the roughly 170 schools certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Those who have completed an aircraft mechanic training program should find favorable job opportunities, however competition will still be tough for jobs with the major airlines who offer the best wages and benefits. Opportunities will continue to grow for avionics technicians in FAA repair stations, small regional and commuter airlines and in general aviation.
Nature of the Work for Avionics Technicians
Airplanes are highly complex machines and they must function safely, with extreme tolerances. Avionics technicians help to keep aircraft in peak operating condition, performing scheduled repairs, completing FAA-required inspections and making repairs.
Avionics technicians work with avionics electronics systems, which are instruments and computers that control engine, flight and other primary functions including aircraft navigation and radio communications. These systems are now and integral part of aircraft design and have had a huge influence on aircraft capability. The job of avionics technicians is to maintain and repair these systems. With the increasing use of technology, more time is spent repairing computerized controls and other electronic systems. In addition, avionics technicians may need to analyze and develop solutions for complex electronic problems.
Typically, avionics technicians work in repair stations, on the airfield or in hangers. Because they need to try to maintain flight schedules and avoid inconveniencing customers, avionics technicians are often working under a time crunch, while holding the responsibility of maintaining safety standards. For this reason, the job can be stressful.
A 40-hour workweek is average, but 8-hour shifts occur around the clock rather than 9-to-5. Also, week work and overtime hours are common.
Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Avionics Technicians
Most avionics technicians attend one of the 170 Aviation Maintenance Technician schools certified by the FAA. They must complete a minimum of 1,900 class hours, which usually takes 12 to 24 months. Some schools offer 2- year degrees and 4-year degrees in avionics, aviation maintenance management, and aviation technology.
Technical schools are now focusing more on newer technologies such as aviation electronics and turbine engines. Now, a strong background in computers and electronics is needed to find and maintain a job in the field.
Avionics technicians can expect to take courses in computer science, electronics, physics, mathematics, chemistry and mechanical drawing. Because they’ll need to submit reports, a writing course is often included as well.
According to FAA regulations, all aircraft maintenance must be completed by a certified mechanic, or under a certified mechanic. So, most airlines look for those with FAA certification – either for airframe mechanic, power plant mechanics, or better yet, a combined A&P certificate.
To earn the certification avionics technicians must work 18 to 30 months or complete a FAA-certified program at school. Beyond formal training, they must pass exams. To maintain the certificate, they must continue to work and take training courses.
Usually, avionics technicians need a airframe mechanic certification, along with proper qualifications and training to work on avionics equipment. Avionics technicians don’t need FAA certification if they have repair experience from the military or other avionics manufacturers. Those who work on communications equipment need a restricted radio-telephone operator license form the Federal Communications Commission.
Employers look for avionics technicians who are enthusiastic, hard-working, self-motivated and able to diagnose and solve complex problems.
Advances in computer technology and aircraft systems means that avionics technicians must update their skills on the latest technology and advances in aircraft technology continually.
With experience avionics technicians can move into crew chief, supervisor or inspector positions. Some may go on to work for the FAA. They can also transfer their skills to other jobs. With continued education they could become aviation engineers, communication engineers, repair consultants or electrical engineers.
Top 10 Most Popular Avionics Technician Schools
1. Community College of the Air Force (Montgomery, Alabama)
2. Metro Technology Centers (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
3. Hallmark University (San Antonio, Texas)
4. Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
5. Redstone College, Denver (Broomfield, Colorado)
6. North Central Institute (Clarksville, Tennessee)
7. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (Carbondale, Illinois)
8. Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport (Williamsport, Pennsylvania)
9. Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
10. Guilford Technical Community College (Jamestown, North Carolina)
See All Avionics Technician Schools
Online School: Everglades University - Online School
Employment and Job Outlook for Avionics Technicians
Number of People in Profession
Changing Employment (2008-2018)
Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average (increase 7 - 13%).
Air transportation and super activities for air transportation provide employment for most avionics technicians. However, many also work for the Federal Government and in aerospace product and parts manufacturing. Most work at major airports near large cities.
Job growth is expected to be about as fast as average compared to all occupations. Avionics technicians who complete an aircraft mechanic training program will find the most favorable opportunities. Competition will continue to be highest with major airlines.
As the economy and population grows, passenger air traffic will also increase, spurring the growth for avionics technicians. That said, most jobs over the next decade will arise due to retirees and workers leaving the field for other careers.
Also, there is a trend for fewer students to enter technical school programs, which may result in a lack of trained avionics technicians that won’t keep up with the needs of the air transportation industry.
The best place to find a job will be at small commuter and regional airlines, general aviation and FAA repair stations. Overall, small airlines will see fewer applicants because they don’t pay as well. Jobs with large airlines will see the most competition due to higher wages and travel benefits.
Avionics technicians who have the skills to work with more complex aircraft systems and perform some of the same duties of certified A&P mechanics should enjoy the best job prospects. Also, avionics technicians that are licensed to work on the airplane to reinstall or remove equipment will also be in high demand.
Earnings and Salary for Avionics Technicians
The median hourly wages for avionics technicians is about $24.31. The highest 10 percent earn $31.55, the lowest 10 percent earn $16.65 and the middle 50 percent earn between $20.54 and $28.28.
Annual Salary for Avionics Technicians
On average, Avionics Technicians earn $46,950 per year.
Hourly Wage for Avionics Technicians
On average, Avionics Technicians earn $22.57 per hour.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook