Aerospace technicians build, test and maintain aircraft and space vehicles. They work on missiles, rockets, airplanes and helicopters. Aerospace and engineering and operations technicians work in all the phases of the industry including production, research and development, and sales. Technicians perform a lot of the routine work which allows engineers and scientists to focus on tasks in which they can utilize their advanced training.
Some aerospace technicians specialize in particular types of equipment. Some of these technicians may work for several years on one-of-a-kind parts utilized in spaceships. Some technicians specialize in particular types of systems such as mechanical or electrical systems. Some technicians may specialize in aircraft instruments or communications.
An aerospace technician utilizes communications systems and computers to record and interpret data. Some technicians assist in design work. They trouble shoot equipment problems. After the manufacturing process is completed, aerospace technicians inspect aircraft and aircraft structures and help with their maintenance and repair.
Some of the common job titles are instrumentation technician, systems test technician, avionics technician, test technician, systems test technician and avionics test technician.
- Test aircraft systems under simulated operational conditions
- Diagnose, maintain, inspect and operate test setups and equipment to detect malfunctions
- Develop cost estimates
- Assist engineers with product design
- Prepare drawings and scale models
- Help prepare plans for the manufacturing of equipment
- Perform laboratory tests
- Inspect products and processes
- Analyze and interpret test information
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians often work as part of a team under the supervision of engineers or scientists. They typically work in well equipped laboratories, plants or offices. Sometimes they need to work in small spaces.
They typically work 40 hours per week. Sometimes they have to work during the evenings and weekends. They may need to work overtime in order to finish a project on time. Some aerospace engineering and operations technicians need to find another job after they complete a project.
Aerospace techs should have an aptitude for mathematics and science. They should also be detailed oriented. Aerospace techs should also be good at working with their hands. Technicians that are involved in design work benefit from being creative.
In 2008 there were approximately 497,300 engineering technician jobs. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians held about 8,700 of those jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a two percent job growth for aerospace engineering and operations technicians from 2008 to 2018 which signifies little or no change.
The increasing use of computer simulations for the design and testing of new products is expected to lower the need for new aerospace engineering technicians. Regarding salaries, the median annual earnings for aerospace engineering and operations technicians in 2008 was $55,040.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most aerospace engineering and operations technicians have an associate degree in engineering technology or aerospace technology. Education programs are provided at community colleges, technical schools and extension divisions of colleges and universities. Some schools provide work study programs which allow students to work in the industry and gain valuable experience while attending school.
Some aerospace companies provide on-the-job training programs. Those that graduate from technical schools run by the armed services have opportunities to acquire jobs as aerospace engineering and operations technicians. In order to work on defense projects, technicians may have to pass a security clearance.
Most associate degree programs that have been accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) include at least college algebra and trigonometry along with one or two basic science courses.
Many private and public schools provide technical training and the type and quality of training varies significantly. Students may want to ask perspective employers for their school preferences. They should also ask a school representative about the types of jobs their graduates have obtained.
Technical schools typically provide a lot of technical training through application and practice, however they typically offer less general education and theory than community colleges. Numerous colleges provide bachelor's degrees in engineering technology, however graduates of these programs often are employed as technologists or applied engineers and not as technicians.
The primary employers are aircraft manufacturers, space vehicle manufacturers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), research institutions and universities.
Schools for Aerospace Technicians are listed in the Browse Schools Section.