Career Opportunities in Avionics
If you are a problem solver seeking a chance to get involved in a thriving industry with a lot of opportunities, avionics may be exactly what you are looking for.
Avionics stands for aviation electronics. Though avionics technicians are often grouped with aircraft mechanics and power plant mechanics, the word avionics refers specifically to the electrical components of an aircraft.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics gives the following examples of electrical systems that are maintained by avionics technicians:
- aircraft navigation;
- radio communications;
- weather radar systems; and
- other instruments and computers that control flight, engine, and other primary functions.
Avionics technicians are expected to maintain, inspect, and repair these systems according to Federal Aviation Administration standards. These regulations are rigidly enforced and require a technician to be able to keep precise records of all the maintenance and repair he or she does on an aircraft.
The records kept on an aircraft are so important that strong communication skills are a must because these records must provide other technicians with enough information about an aircraft so that they can complete a diagnostic based on its reported maintenance and flight history. Other skills that trainees should have, according to CareerOverview.com, include an understanding of mathematics, physics, chemistry, electronics, computer science, and mechanical drawing. Grasping the major concepts in these areas will contribute to technicians’ abilities to make quick repairs and understanding of how an aircraft works. Avionics technicians often work on high platforms, small or uncomfortable spaces, or in strange positions for relatively long periods of time as airplanes can be oddly shaped different sizes. Persistence and motivation are good characteristics to have in avionics, and people who see themselves as problem-solvers may find this career especially rewarding because it is based on completing a wide variety of projects that require highly specialized skills.
Avionics programs offer a way to begin gaining the three or four years of experience needed to get a job in the aviation industry. Avionics is one of the most heavily regulated fields in the United States; therefore, being trained by an FAA certified program is essential to learning the laws and regulations surrounding the industry, and will eventually prepare you for work in an FAA certified environment. Around 200 two-year colleges, technical schools, and universities offer avionics courses and degrees in avionics, aviation technology, or aviation maintenance management. Although the National Center for Avionic Technician Training is in the process of creating a certificate for avionic system installation/integration, no system of national certification for individuals currently exists, apart from a two-year or a four-year degree. One-hundred seventy of these programs offered through colleges are said, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to be approved by the FAA. A list of colleges that offer training in avionics can be found through the National Center for Education Statistics Web site.
Wide-spread career opportunities for post-training technicians can be found at FAA repair stations and small commuter and regional airlines. These places offer opportunities to gain hands-on experience and are frequently located throughout the country, as opposed to large airports or aircraft manufacturers that may offer more money and have a higher volume of employees. Job opportunities for people in the avionics field are estimated to go up due to the increasing amount of electrical/computer technology in aircraft as well as the increasing number of experienced technicians who are beginning to retire, leaving positions for a younger generation to fill. The places with the highest number of avionics technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are concentrated in the Midwest (Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas). The state averages for pay range is from $15 an hour to $30 an hour, depending on where you work and how difficult or specialized what you are doing is. Places like Hawaii and Alaska generally pay more because avionics techs are more difficult to hire in remote areas
CareerOverview.com says that opportunities in the avionics field won’t be diminishing in the future: “As advancements in the complexity of aircraft continue, the demand for skilled and knowledgeable mechanics will increase. Competition will remain stiff, since the major airlines offer good wages and great travel benefits.” Avionics is a complex, specialized career that is essential to the past, current, and future movements of aircraft technology and avionics technicians are necessary to the safety and efficiency of the aviation industry.