What is an Aviation Electrician?
A career as an electrician is a great choice, as there is considerable growth in the field. But it’s important to know that there are more options than simply working as a residential or commercial electrician. You can become an electrician and specialize in a variety of areas and types of work, including working with the electronics on aircraft. An aviation electrician plays a crucial role in making sure aircraft function and are safe. And they earn a good living for doing so.
Job Duties of an Aviation Electrician
If you become an aviation electrician, you can expect to do similar work as other types of electricians but on airplanes rather than in buildings. These electricians install, maintain, inspect and test, and repair electronic systems, wiring, equipment and electrical components in a variety of aircraft. They work on the instrumentation in airplanes, communication devices, navigation systems and radar equipment. Some typical daily duties include:
- Diagnosing electrical problems
- Making fixes when sources of electrical problems are found
- Replacing old or defective electrical components, parts or wiring
- Installing new wiring and parts
- Testing electronics and wiring for function and adherence to guidelines and safety
- Keeping maintenance and repair records
- Reading and interpreting technical documents and diagrams
Any type of electrical work is typically physical and requires strength and stamina. On aircraft, much of the work has to be done in tight spaces, which can be uncomfortable. There are some dangers associated with this work, such as being injured by tools and equipment, falling or being shocked.
Employers of aviation electricians include airlines and transportation companies, the federal government, private aircraft companies and aircraft manufacturers.
Training, Education and Licensing
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the licensing of aircraft technicians of all types, including electricians. You can begin your career in aviation electronics by attending an FAA-approved program, but this is not required. You will need some type of education and training in order to be able to pass the FAA tests, and you have options.
Most people getting into this field have at least a two-year associate’s degree in electrical technology. It is also important to get on-the-job training in some type of apprenticeship role, working with aircraft in order to qualify and be able to pass the test for FAA certification.
Job Outlook and Salary for Aviation Electricians
For all electricians, job growth is positive and steady, meaning this is a great field to get into for job stability. Growth for all types of aviation technicians is a little slower, at five percent, but is still strong and indicates that newly-qualified workers should be able to find positions easily.
The salaries for aviation technicians and electricians reflect the degree of specialized knowledge and skills they have. They earn more on average than residential electricians. The average annual salary for an aviation electrician in 2017 was $61,020, and the highest earners made more than $92,000 during the same year.
For an exciting electrical career that will take you well beyond working in homes and buildings, consider working as an aviation electrician. The work is challenging and physically demanding, and it does require extensive training, but the salaries are great and the job is rewarding.