What is a mechanic job like?
You work in hangars, out on the field on the "flight lines" where aircraft park, or in repair stations. You use hand and power tools as well as sophisticated test equipment. Maintenance is performed around the clock, seven days a week. New mechanics and technicians should expect to work nights and weekends. The noise level both indoors and on the flight line could be very high. Sometimes your work requires physical activity, from climbing ladders to crawling. You work under deadline to make sure an airplane is ready to fly.
Do I need a license to be an aircraft mechanic?
Not necessarily. However, if you don't have a mechanic's certificate from the FAA, you can work only when supervised by someone who does have a certificate. You cannot approve equipment for return to service. Without a certificate, you are less likely to advance to the top of the career field.
The FAA issues mechanics and repairman certificates. Mechanics can get either an airframe rating or a power plant rating--most mechanics get both. Repairmen get certificates with ratings to perform only specific tasks, and they must be associated with FAA-approved Repair Stations, commercial operators, or air carriers holding authority to perform these tasks.
Do I need any experience to become a certified mechanic?
Yes. You can get the required experience through civilian or military on-the-job training, or by attending a special school for aircraft mechanics.
Do I have to take any tests to become a certified mechanic?
Yes. You have to take both oral and practical tests. There is a fee for the test. The oral and practical tests cover 43 technical subjects. Typically tests for one certificate--airframe or power plant--takes about 8 hours.