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Old 12-29-2013, 08:38 AM
 
Location: Wandering in the Dothraki sea
1,397 posts, read 1,618,451 times
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My boyfriend decided he needs a career change. He wants to leave teaching to persue his passion of all things mechanical. Ideally, he would like to become an airline mechanic. We live in Atlanta.

Does anyone have any suggestion on where to start? ie, what kinds of certifications/licensing is required?

Is this a relatively feasible industry to break in to?

Thank you so much in advance.
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Avondale, AZ
1,225 posts, read 4,920,312 times
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Most aviaition mechanics come from the military or attend tech schools. You have to pass an FAA test for certification. The certification is divided into 2 parts> airframe and powerplant, A&P. You can also qualify to take the test with experience. 18 months for each or 30 if you take both tests at the same time. Most aviation techs do not make the same money as an ASE auto tech at local dealer, but have a lot more liability. Airline jobs are more lucrative, but are a little sketchy nowadays, due to buy-outs, consolidations, and foreign competition.
When my SIL asked about a tech career in aviation or automobile industry, I whole-heartedly told him to go work on cars, which he loves anyways. He got his ASE certs and now works at a dealership as a service writer after 2 years working as a tech. The opportunities are a hundredfold greater.
I've been in aviation as a tech for 30+ years and I have had a nice career, but I don't think I would follow the same path given the choice today.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Saint Louis, MO
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The university I attended had a 4 year aviation technology (aircraft maintenance) program, they also had a two year program that would get you he same certificates.

I majored in aviation technology (Professional Pilot) and worked as a mechanic during college for 3.5 years before finding employment as a pilot. For my friends who majored in aircraft maintenance, they managed to find employment considerably faster than most of my professional pilot friends.

We have a small regional airline here in St. Louis that has employed many of them. Their jobs offer lots of opportunities for overtime, and most were making a salary similar to my Captain pay once I was employed with the same company (approximately 60k/year). Pay at the major airlines will be better, however it's not like the "old days" where you'd get hired by one of the majors and expect employment for the next 20 years...especially with all the consolidation in recent years, and the farming out of mechanic jobs by the airlines...

The jobs with regional carriers are very volatile. I can think of several times bases were opened in a new city that resulted in job losses in a different city.

I also have several friends who work for major aircraft manufacturing companies, several at Gulfstream in Georgia and a couple in Kansas. Working for the manufacturers gives a big more stability than the regional airlines, and allows people to buy homes and settle down.

Being in Atlanta will be a big help, as there will likely be airline employment in the city for the foreseeable future. Will it be as solid of an employment option as teaching in the public school system....likely not, but that of course depends on market and specialty.

Is swapping careers in this situation the best of ideas? You won't know until you retire, but here is a definite market for both professions for years to come.
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:08 PM
 
Location: Limbo
6,512 posts, read 7,544,447 times
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There are a few schools around the Atlanta area that issue certificates for aircraft maintenance. I'm not sure what/where they are off hand, but I can check it out. A few of my coworkers are enrolled in such schools.

As Atlanta is the HQ for Delta Air Lines, it maintains its 'tech ops' at the airport. Basically, the large maintenance and overhaul base. A long with maintenance in the hangar, there is line maintenance, where you work on in-service aircraft (tire changes, oil, sensors/equipment, etc). There are many jobs to be had with the proper qualification.
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Old 12-30-2013, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Billings, MT
9,885 posts, read 10,967,002 times
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I took the tests many years ago and got my A&P license.
In many ways, I wish I had gone to Oregon Tech and became a Diesel Mechanic.
Of course, being an aircraft sheet metal/electrical/hydraulic specialist was a lot cleaner than working on diesel engines, but the diesel mech in the oil fields made a LOT more money, and there was no need to try to balance what the Director of Maintenance wants with what the FAA says you must do. The DOM can fire you, and the FAA can pull your license. damned if you do, damned if you don't!
I finished my working career on lawn and garden equipment and golf carts. MUCH less stressful!
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:25 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles County, CA
29,094 posts, read 25,996,493 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JC84 View Post
My boyfriend decided he needs a career change. He wants to leave teaching to persue his passion of all things mechanical. Ideally, he would like to become an airline mechanic. We live in Atlanta.

Does anyone have any suggestion on where to start? ie, what kinds of certifications/licensing is required?

Is this a relatively feasible industry to break in to?

Thank you so much in advance.
Everyone has given the answers to your questions.

Harrier is interested in careers as both an avionics technician(which for most major airlines requires an Airframe and Powerplant license, plus an FCC license), and as a teacher.

It struck Harrier that your boyfriend wants to leave the teaching world.

Maybe Harrier should focus more on avionics.

Harrier would have to move to Oakland to work for his preferred airline - Alaska Airlines.

Ughh...

Last edited by Harrier; 12-31-2013 at 10:33 AM..
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Billings, MT
9,885 posts, read 10,967,002 times
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Harrier, as an Avionics Technician, I see no reason for you to have a Powerplant license. You won't be working on engines.
The reason many employers prefer Avionics Technicians to have the Airframe license is so that the Technician does not have to go get somebody else to cut a hole and install a doubler to install an antenna, or cut a hole in the panel to mount a radio. The technician can do the entire installation himself (or herself, there are quite a few females in the industry these days!). It really IS advantageous for the Avionics person to have the Airframe license.
Harrier should look at the IT fields instead of aircraft maintenance. There just might be more money in IT! AND it is possible to live in places like Hanford, CA or Fallon NV!
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Old 12-31-2013, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles County, CA
29,094 posts, read 25,996,493 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redraven View Post
Harrier, as an Avionics Technician, I see no reason for you to have a Powerplant license. You won't be working on engines.
The reason many employers prefer Avionics Technicians to have the Airframe license is so that the Technician does not have to go get somebody else to cut a hole and install a doubler to install an antenna, or cut a hole in the panel to mount a radio. The technician can do the entire installation himself (or herself, there are quite a few females in the industry these days!). It really IS advantageous for the Avionics person to have the Airframe license.
Harrier should look at the IT fields instead of aircraft maintenance. There just might be more money in IT! AND it is possible to live in places like Hanford, CA or Fallon NV!
Harrier though that it was required because he would have to certify the airworthiness of the aircraft vis a vis its electronic systems working as they should.

If it is not necessary, then Harrier may look at the Naval Air Stations in Lemoore or Fallon.
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Old 01-01-2014, 07:09 AM
 
Location: Limbo
6,512 posts, read 7,544,447 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harrier View Post
Everyone has given the answers to your questions.

Harrier is interested in careers as both an avionics technician(which for most major airlines requires an Airframe and Powerplant license, plus an FCC license), and as a teacher.

It struck Harrier that your boyfriend wants to leave the teaching world.

Maybe Harrier should focus more on avionics.

Harrier would have to move to Oakland to work for his preferred airline - Alaska Airlines.

Ughh...
Good choice in Alaska.

What really helps in getting in with the airlines, and many other jobs, is a employee referral for any job. You may have to start at the bottom, but once in the company, there's more opportunity for advancement.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Mississippi
6,712 posts, read 13,455,221 times
Reputation: 4317
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harrier View Post
Everyone has given the answers to your questions.

Harrier is interested in careers as both an avionics technician(which for most major airlines requires an Airframe and Powerplant license, plus an FCC license), and as a teacher.

It struck Harrier that your boyfriend wants to leave the teaching world.

Maybe Harrier should focus more on avionics.

Harrier would have to move to Oakland to work for his preferred airline - Alaska Airlines.

Ughh...
I've been a mechanic for 13 years... 6 military and 7 as an A&P at a major airline. Virtually my entire career has been in avionics. You don't have to have an FCC license to work avionics if you have an A&P. You can sign off anything on the airplane with an A&P. In fact, I don't think I know a single guy in my shop who has an FCC. Granted, if you have very little to no experience in avionics, it might be a nice certificate to have when seeking a job because it may put a prospective employer at ease that you do have some sort of electronics background. But, most employers hiring for avionics technicians will put you through a pretty extensive interview process anyway. I know I was grilled for close to four hours when I was hired for my avionics job and it was like sitting in a room with the Gestapo. No smiles. No grins. No breaks. Just question after question after question.

I can absolutely assure you that you want to focus on the A&P first, though. Something else you may want to practice doing if you're working in a maintenance environment and interested in avionics... Troubleshoot every single thing you do with a schematic and/or wiring diagram. Don't forget, hydraulic systems and even many flight control systems have schematics. I work on six different fleet types and hardly any two of our aircraft are the same. It's humanly impossible to remember the details of all those unique systems on all those unique aircraft. I literally rely on my ability to read a schematic to understand how the system works. That means understanding what goes on in and out of the box, i.e., knowing transistors, digital logic (AND's, NOR's, OR, NAND's, XOR's, etc...), flip-flops, etc... If you give me any warning light or message on the aircraft and its appropriate schematic, I can tell you what turns that light on and why it's on within minutes. I don't need to know the system forwards and backwards, I only need to know what's generating that message, that light, or that behavior. From there, I troubleshoot accordingly.

It takes a lot of practice and a lot of experience but it's also not every day that you'll find mechanics who can do that either. Most guys prefer to throw the parts cannon at something until it fixes it. I prefer to maximize my time in the building (bad weather sucks) by analyzing the schematic and wiring diagrams until I have it narrowed down to a few possibilities. From there, armed with a meter, I can pretty much have it traced down in no time. There are rare exceptions but I'll never understand the guys who prefer to spend all night on the flight line chasing their tail because they're too scared of a schematic. I see it all the time too.

Learn to use them, learn to love them, and know how to read them effectively. Over the years, you won't even attempt to try and remember how the various systems operate in and out. It's futile anyway. The schematics tell it all. That being said, there are things in maintenance that are sort of no-brainer things anyway. A burnt out lamp can just be a burnt out lamp. A tire change is a tire change. A bird in the engine is a bird in the engine. But, generally speaking, anything that requires a decent amount of troubleshooting should be done with a schematic and a wiring diagram.
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