Like much of the aviation industry, the outlook for aviation and avionics maintenance technicians is bright. The industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Even as economic factors tighten, the labor market has become more competitive for employers, meaning they are working hard to attract qualified individuals.
A Bright Outlook for AMTs
Flying Magazine reported in late 2022 that aircraft maintenance technicians were becoming a hot commodity. In an earnings call with investors, Raytheon Technologies leaders mentioned labor challenges 32 times, compared to mentioning revenue only 24. Those numbers tell a story that should perk the ears of any aspiring maintenance technician.
Similarly, Boeing published a 20-year outlook for the years from 2022 to 2041, and they estimate that the industry will need around 610,000 new maintenance technicians globally. This estimate is based on Boeing’s forecast for airliner demand with 30 or more seats.
It’s worth noting here that while Raytheon and Boeing are looking at the industry from a top-down perspective, smaller players like your local MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) facility are experiencing the same pressures. A&P technicians are needed everywhere, for every type of aircraft–from the more common Cessnas and Pipers at the flight school to the state-of-the-art helicopters servicing oil platforms in the Gulf and every one of the major airlines and aircraft manufacturers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of aircraft and avionics maintenance technician jobs is expected to grow six percent over the next ten years. The Occupational Outlook Handbook lists 151,400 jobs as of 2021, with an expected addition of 9,000 more in the next decade. Of course, this number doesn’t include new hires required to make up for normal turnover, which has accelerated after the pandemic in many cases.
AMT Opportunities Abound
A quick look around the internet bares all of this out. For example, most major airlines have extensive mechanic development programs designed to attract recruits. Alaska Airlines is offering a $12,300 education stipend for apprentice-level opportunities.
Operators are also offering excellent perks for experienced techs. Piedmont Airlines will give maintenance hires $10,000 and a complete toolbox if you’ve got between zero and three years of experience or $17,500 if you have more than three years.
And while smaller regional airlines are more likely to have pipeline programs, even the majors are all hiring for their technical operations departments. $10,000 signing bonuses are common, even for entry-level support jobs, before you have your A&P.
Become an Aviation Maintenance Technician
Long-Term Professional Growth
So the numbers seem clear–a career as an AMT is likely going to be stable in the long run as demand for the skill rises. But how rewarding of a career path is it, and what sort of personal and professional growth opportunities could one expect?
It’s easy to focus narrowly on the role of the basic maintenance tech since this is the role that most people train and apply for in the beginning. But the career path has many other options and potential for growth.
While AMTs perform routine maintenance and repairs, experienced AMTs are often promoted to lead technicians. New duties include overseeing projects and supervising the work of other AMTs. AMTs with a few years under their belts can train and apply for the IA, or hold an Inspection Authorization from the FAA. IAs are required to sign off on major inspections like annuals on every aircraft.
But once inside the world of the aviation maintenance technician, other opportunities might jump out at you. For example, many techs enjoy teaching, with opportunities at many major MRO organizations and schools. Training is required for new hires, and recurrent training and learning new technologies for experienced employees.
Every major MRO also keeps a support staff, including Aircraft Maintenance Planners, who keep track of the cycles on aircraft and plan out what needs to happen and when. In the maintenance world, this requires knowledge of what must be done and the added skills of a project manager. Additionally, larger repair facilities must keep a staff of managers and engineers to support all of their operations.
Specialization is another opportunity that AMTs should keep in the back of their mind. Type-specific and new technology training provides chances for countless opportunities throughout your career.
The outlook for maintenance technicians is very positive, with a large number of job openings and opportunities for those entering the field. Earning an A&P certificate from an FAA-certified AMT school can open even more doors and make this rewarding career even more attainable.