Avionics systems are the technology components of modern aircraft. They include all navigational and communications equipment, weather radar systems, and the electronic components that monitor aircraft performance. Avionics technicians provide maintenance for this equipment. The increasing amount of computerized technology installed on aircraft has caused the role of the avionics technician to become critical to aircraft maintenance. An avionics technician may also be involved with other aircraft repair specialists in working on complex problems that involve electronics.
The FAA certifies all schools that teach aircraft maintenance. An avionics technician must have an aircraft mechanic's license, which requires a minimum of 1900 class hours. Classes include instruction in math and physics as well as the workings of a turbine engine, landing gear and other mechanical functions. Avionics technicians must complete avionics training as well; in many cases avionics students learned the trade in the military and can substitute experience for some of the required studies.
While there were 138,000 licensed aircraft mechanics of all specialties working in 2006, only sixteen thousand of them were avionics specialists. The other specialties in aircraft maintenance are the airframe mechanic, who is licensed to work on any part of the plane except the instruments, engines and propellers. An aircraft powerplant mechanic is licensed to work on engines. There are far more of these specialists than there are of avionics technicians.
The profession is expected to grow at about the same pace as the average growth rate for jobs overall. However the increasing complexity of the electronic and computer systems in new aircraft may boost the number of avionics specialists that are required in the future.
10th Percentile $34,220
Median Salary $49,130
90th Percentile $64,200
Source: U.S. Department of Labor