Posted: January 29, 2021 | Author: Jaidyn Crookston | Read Time: 7 minutes
When thinking about becoming an A&P Mechanic, one of the biggest questions asked is how much money you can expect to make as a mechanic. It’s always important to know as much as you can about a profession before you choose a career. Below we discuss the potential earnings for entry-level A&P mechanics, as well as those that have been in the field.
A&P stands for Airframe and Powerplant. This means that those who are qualified as an A&P mechanic are licensed to work on both the external frame (airframe) and engine (powerplant) portions of an aircraft. A&P mechanics are also known as aircraft maintenance technicians, or AMT’s.
A&P mechanics are responsible for keeping an aircraft up to date with FAA safety regulations and standards. This involves regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs of each aircraft. If an aircraft is experiencing problems and needs to be fixed, then it’s the A&P mechanic’s job to repair and sign off the problem.
Without A&P mechanics, aviation would come to a stop. These technicians are essential for keeping all aircraft running safely for pilots and passengers worldwide. It’s up to an A&P mechanic to run tests, make notes, and repair all problems with an aircraft’s exterior and engine. Mechanics also regularly inspect aircraft and do routine safety checks.
In order to work as an A&P mechanic, you’ll need to have an A&P license. You can earn a license by training at a flight school with an AMT program or by going to a trade school with a similar program.
Average A&P Mechanic Salary
According to salary.com, as of December 28, 2020, commercial A&P mechanics earn an average of $87,930 per year while working on jets. Typically, a well-established jet A&P mechanic can make anywhere from $76,618 to $99,117 per year.
As a general aviation mechanic (one not working on large jets), you can expect to earn around $50,000 a year, according to salary.com. General aviation mechanics are those working at flight schools, small aviation companies, local airports, tour companies, and more.
Commercial mechanics may make more money, but general aviation mechanics have many other benefits. One potential benefit is being able to live in a more rural place for a long time rather than living in a big city near a large airport. General aviation mechanics also typically have better hours and personal relationships with coworkers and management. Many mechanics prefer this lifestyle over that of a commercial aviation mechanic.
A few factors that will help determine how much money you’ll make include where you’re working, how long you’ve been there, and whether you’re working on airplanes or helicopters. Helicopters are more complicated to maintain and repair, so some general aviation companies pay mechanics more to work on helicopters. In order to work on helicopters, you’ll need to be trained in helicopter-specific maintenance techniques. However, not all AMT programs include helicopter maintenance as part of the standard curriculum. If you want to work on helicopters, you’ll need to find a program that includes these courses.
Currently, Southern Utah University Aviation is the only AMT school that includes helicopter maintenance training at no additional cost. Most AMT schools charge extra for helicopter maintenance training, but at SUU Aviation, it’s part of the standard curriculum and every student receives this training.
At the beginning of your career, you won’t be making as much as you will later on. The average starting salary of an A&P mechanic is $40,000-$60,000 a year, depending on where you work. You’ll start to make more money as you get more experience and eventually could be making around $99,000 a year. Wherever you work, you’ll start as an entry-level A&P mechanic and as you get more experience you can move up in rank until you’re a lead A&P mechanic.
Types of A&P Mechanic Jobs
There are many types of for new and established mechanics. As a mechanic, you’ll most likely work for an airline, flight school, or general aviation operation, although there are many other aviation options as well. Some mechanics don’t end up working in the aviation industry at all and instead transfer to another industry: the amusement park industry. An A&P mechanic’s skillset transfers easily to working on rides and infrastructure, so amusement parks love to recruit A&P mechanics.
To give you an idea of where you may end up working as a mechanic, here are some of the places that hire AMTs:
- Commercial airlines
- Flight schools
- Freight carriers
- Private companies
- Aircraft manufacturers
- Local airports
- Private aircraft owners
- Air Force bases
- Tour companies
- Air medical
- Amusement parks
Difference Between Airplane and Helicopter Maintenance
As mentioned before, you may be able to earn more money working on helicopters than on airplanes. Why is this? Helicopters are more complicated machines and tend to need more maintenance than airplanes. They also require a much higher attention to detail and afford less room for mistakes.
Most AMT schools offer training primarily in airplane maintenance and may have a few extra courses dedicated to rotor. If your goal is to become a helicopter maintenance technician, then finding an AMT school that focuses on rotor maintenance is important. The more practice you have working on helicopters, the more prepared you’ll be for the industry.
Other Compensation Benefits
On top of your A&P mechanic’s salary, there may be many benefits. These benefits may include health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, retirement, travel insurance, and more.
Requirements to Become an A&P Mechanic
To work as an A&P mechanic, you’ll have to get an A&P license. If you attend a university with an AMT program, like SUU Aviation, you’ll graduate in five semesters with an A&P license and an associate’s degree. Having a degree will put you above the competition when looking for a job, but isn’t required to be a mechanic.
All you really need to is an A&P license. To get an A&P license you’ll have to pass a test issued by the FAA. Once you have your license you’ll be qualified to work in most countries as an A&P Mechanic. Even though an A&P license is only issued in the United States, most countries recognize the license and like to hire candidates who have one.
Is it a good time to become an A&P Mechanic?
Because of COVID-19, many people think that now is a bad time to become an A&P Mechanic. This likely isn’t true. Even though the aviation industry has struggled just like many others in the last year, things are starting to look up. The aviation industry as a whole is becoming strong again, and so are A&P Mechanics. As demand for aircraft goes up in the coming months, so will demand for mechanics.
Keep in mind that even if you begin your AMT training now, you won’t be ready to enter the industry as a licensed mechanic for about two years. This will give the industry another two years to recover from the effects of the pandemic and find ways to better deal with any future health crises.
So yes, now is still a great time to become an A&P mechanic. According to a recent study done by Boeing, by 2038 there will be a shortage of 769,000 A&P mechanics worldwide. A&P mechanics are the ones who keep all aircraft safe to fly. This means that as long as the aviation industry is in demand, A&P mechanics will be too. When you decide to become an A&P mechanic, you’re choosing a career that will likely stay strong and in demand. As an A&P mechanic, you’re almost guaranteed to have a job for the rest of your life.
If you’re interested in becoming an A&P mechanic, Southern Utah University Aviation has one of the only AMT programs in the nation that offers helicopter maintenance training at no additional cost. In fact, it’s part of the standard curriculum. Whether you want to work on airplanes, helicopters, or you aren’t yet sure, SUU Aviation is the AMT school for you. If you have any questions about the program, or want more information about how much money an A&P mechanic makes, contact SUU Aviation or come visit the hangar. You can talk to the amazing mechanics who maintain SUU’s own fleet and see if this career is right for you.
Produced by SUU Aviation
The university's fleet includes 16 airplanes, 23 helicopters by the end of 2020, and state-of-the-art maintenance training facilities. SUU Aviation offers advanced and relevant flight training in the safest and most efficient way possible. The program continues to be on the cutting edge of the industry, training tomorrow's aviation leaders.WithSUU Aviation, you’ll get a high-quality education and have the experience needed to get a job as a mechanic when you graduate.