Finding the right A & P school can be a daunting task. Each school will promise you the best education and each will claim that you are nearly guaranteed a high paying job after you graduate. I wish it were that simple.
One of the unique aspects about our industry is that it is required for the most part, to be certificated with the A and P license in order to do your job. unlike typical colleges that sell you degrees, A & P schools sell you the ability to take the a & p exam. In other words, they provide you with the necessary training required under FAR part 65.77 which is 1900 hours of training for both A and P. After the training requirement is met, you are able to take the A & P written, oral and practical tests. After you get the A & P license, you can then go out and land that dream job. Most employers are not very concerned with which A & P school you went to. They are mainly concerned with whether or not you have the A & P license. So it is not like a typical college degree where the college matters because the college courses can very between schools. In a typical degree situation, a college course work can very between schools, even though it is for a similar degree. For aircraft mechanics, the Federal Aviation Administration is what governs what we are taught. The FAA lays out the areas of study and the schools have to meet that requirement to be considered a part 147 school. The FAA will visit schools and inspect for compliance.
Are all Part 147 A & P schools the Same?
They are the same in the sense that they are essentially teaching the same things which again, are governed by the FAA. Each student at different schools will both learn how to perform a turbine engine hot section inspection and learn how to repair a fabric covered aircraft. That being said, there are still differences between schools and their training methods. Since we know that the course subjects will largely be the same, what are the difference between schools? I am glad you asked.
Differences Between A & P Schools might include;
- Class to student ratio
- Hands on training aids. I have seen some pretty poor examples of training aids at schools before. Keep in mind however that since the FAA mandates the course subjects, there are areas that will require old equipment. For instance, fabric repair. The FAA should seriously consider updating the course subjects in my opinion.
- Class length. Most schools are about 2 years long. Find out how long exactly the schools are.
- Cost. This is a big one. Also find out how much it costs if you fail or miss a section that needs to be made up.
- Does the school accept GI Bill?
- Does the school require you to purchase you own tools? must you purchase the tools from the school? if so, are the prices inflated?
Visiting the A & P school is the best way to get a feel for the courses being taught there. Just remember that in most cases, you will be talking to a salesman. These people are slick talkers who are trying to push you to sign up TODAY. Just take your time while doing your research. Try and find school reviews online to see if there are any problems. Also, depending on your individual situation and your location, it may be difficult to land that first job as an aircraft mechanic right away. Just focus on getting experience which you can build on. Read my tips on How to get Experience as an Aircraft Mechanic. Also, if you cannot find a job in aviation maintenance, there are other companies that hire A&Ps. Here is a short list of Other companies that hire A&P mechanics.
While in the A & P school, it is also a good idea to start massing a stockpile of tools. Now I am not saying to go into debt or go crazy on buying tools. But it is a smart move to start to slowly collect tools that you will needs once you get your A & P license. Start searching for an aircraft mechanic tool box. That way it is less of a financial hit all at once when you get out.
Another tip that might give you a slight advantage against your peers is to subscribe to the industry trade magazines. This way you can keep current on what is going on in our industry and get used to the “language” that our industry uses. These trade magazines are typically free. Find a list of trade free trade magazines on my aircraft mechanic blog.
Vincennes University Aviation Maintnance Course Located at the Indianapolis International Airport has a really nice looking hangar.
The aviation industry is an exciting career field with lots of potential to make great money. There are opportunities all over the world maintaining aircraft and the need to skilled aircraft technicians will continue to increase. There will always be a need for highly skilled troubleshooting mechanics. This of course takes time to build on. Being an aircraft mechanic means being a life long student. You will never quit learning new things in this field. Start your search for an A & P School today and get your new career started!