Education and Training High school, training, and license
Salary Median—$21.30 per hour
Employment Outlook Fair
Definition and Nature of the Work
Avionics is the application of electronics to the operation of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. Technicians inspect, test, and repair the electronic components of communication, navigation, and flight-control systems. For example, they may test and replace radar systems using such equipment as circuit analyzers and oscilloscopes.
Some technicians work with engineers to develop and install new electronics systems and calibrate them to specifications. Many specialize in particular systems, such as computerized guidance and flight-control equipment.
Technicians must complete and sign maintenance and installation documents for every piece of equipment. To keep up with technological advances, they read technical articles and attend seminars and training courses.
Education and Training Requirements
Avionics technicians must have high school diplomas and complete two- or four-year training programs at technical institutes or community colleges. Thorough understanding of the theory and practice of electronics is essential. Other useful courses are geometry, calculus, and technical writing.
Large aerospace companies and the armed services provide on-the-job training specific to their requirements. Avionics technicians are also required to obtain restricted radio-telephone operator's licenses, which are obtained from the Federal Communication Commission.
Getting the Job
College placement offices may have information about entry-level positions. Job seekers can also apply directly to aerospace companies and airlines. Some employment agencies specialize in placing technical staff.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Avionics technicians usually begin their careers as trainees, working under the supervision of skilled workers. As they gain experience they test and repair equipment independently. With more training they can become installers of new equipment or get jobs in research and development.
The employment outlook for avionics technicians is fair through 2014. The aerospace industry is closely tied to government spending and the economy, so overall employment can fluctuate. Those technicians with experience and knowledge of the latest technologies should find the most job opportunities.
Avionics technicians generally work forty hours per week, sometimes in teams of technicians and engineers. Because electronic equipment must be kept very clean, they usually work indoors, often in the confined spaces of aircraft cockpits. The work is highly detailed, with exacting standards, and may include preparation and presentation of technical reports.
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries vary, depending on the type of company or size of airline. In 2004 the median wage of all avionics technicians was $21.30 per hour. The most experienced workers made more than $27.85 per hour.
Where to Go for More Information
Aircraft Electronics Association
4217 S. Hocker
Independence, MO 64055-7344 (816) 373-6565
Aviation Technician Education Council
2090 Wexford Ct.
Harrisburg, PA 17112-1579
Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations and health and retirement plans. Technicians working for airlines may be eligible for free or greatly reduced fares when traveling.