How to Get Licensed As an Aircraft Mechanic

Three Parts:Checking if You Satisfy RequirementsGaining Sufficient ExperienceTaking Required Examinations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues aircraft mechanic’s licenses in the United States. You will need a license from the FAA even if you work outside the United States, provided you work on civil aircraft that is registered in the United States. To get the license, you must pass a series of tests after gaining sufficient experience or training.

Part 1
Checking if You Satisfy Requirements

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    Meet the age requirements. You must be at least 18 years old in order to qualify for an aircraft mechanic’s license. You will also need over a year of practical experience, so you realistically might not be able to apply until you are over 18.[1]
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    Understand English. You also need to be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language. However, if you live outside the United States, then the FAA may waive the English language requirement.[2]
    • If waived, your certificate will only be valid outside the United States.
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    Check the requirements if you live outside the U.S. Non-citizens can also get certificates. They must be at least 18 years old and pass the same types of tests. In addition, non-citizens must meet the following requirements:[3]
    • Demonstrate that you need a mechanic certificate in order to maintain civil aircraft that is registered in the U.S.
    • Show that you are not a U.S. citizen or a resident alien in the U.S.
    • Get a detailed statement from your employer explaining what specific types of maintenance you perform on each aircraft and the length of time you have performed it.
    • Get a letter from the airworthiness authority in the country where you got experience, or get a letter from the advisor of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICA) which validates your maintenance experience.
    • Pay a fee for document review.
    • Show the examiner your passport.

Part 2
Gaining Sufficient Experience

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    Find an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School. You can search a database on the FAA website to find schools. You can search by city, state, and country.[4] Once you have located a nearby school, you should contact them and ask for information.
    • You usually need a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED) in order to get into most schools.
    • School usually lasts from 12-24 months.[5]
    • Graduates usually get higher starting salaries than those who don’t graduate from a technical school, so you should seriously consider attending.
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    Get practical experience instead. If you don’t want to go to a technical school, you can get 18 months of practical experience with airframes. If you want a power plant certificate as well, then you could get 30 months of experience that covers both airframes and power plants.[6]
    • Many people get their practical experience with on-the-job training in the military, though you can also get civilian on-the-job training.[7]
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    Document your practical experience. You should get pay receipts and a log book signed by your supervising mechanic. You should also get a notarized statement from your employer as to your experience.
    • If you get military experience, then you can count only the time you got working in the specialty (not training for it). You should obtain an official letter from your military employer certifying your length of service, as well as the amount of time you worked in each specialty. The letter should also state the make and model of the aircraft or engine on which you got practical experience and where you got that experience.
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    Have an interview. If you are relying on practical experience, then you will have to interview with the FAA Airworthiness inspector. This person will review your paperwork and credit your work experience after a satisfactory interview.[8]

Part 3
Taking Required Examinations

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    Identify the tests. You need to take three different tests in order to qualify as an aircraft mechanic. There are oral, practical, and written exams.[9]
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    Register for the oral and practical exams. A Designated Mechanic Examiner will administer the oral and practical tests. You can get a list of examiners from your local FAA office. The tests last for about eight hours and cover 43 different technical subjects.[10]
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    Register for a written test. You can register by showing your proof of experience to an FAA inspector at the local FAA office. There are different tests for airframe and power plant mechanic certificates and a general test that covers both. Based on your experience, the FAA inspector will decide if you meet the requirements to take one of the tests.[11]
    • You will then register an appointment to take the test at a computer testing facility, which are located worldwide. The FAA has a list of testing centers at their website.[12]
    • To register, you will need to have an acceptable form of identification, which should include a recent photograph, signature, and actual residential address. For example, you could use a drivers’ license, passport, or military identification card.[13]
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    Study for the written test. You can get sample questions for the general, airframe, and power plant tests. The sample questions are available in PDF format at the FAA website.[14]
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    Pass all exams. You must take and pass all three exams in a 24-month period. After passing, FAA will issue your certificate to you.
    • If you fail a test, then you have to wait 30 days before taking it again. However, you can take it earlier if you give a letter to the Examiner stating that you have gained additional training in the area you failed.[15]


  • Most mechanics get both the airframe rating and the power plant rating.[16]
  • You don’t actually need a mechanic’s certificate to work on aircraft. However, if you don’t have a certificate, then you can only work when supervised by someone with a certificate. You also cannot approve equipment to return to service.[17]

Article Info

Categories: Aviation