Ever thought about becoming an aircraft maintenance technician school instructor?
By Stephen G. Magoc
Contemplating a career change? Is landing a job as an instructor at an Aircraft Maintenance Technician School (AMTS) something you’ve been thinking about? Can it really be as simple as being paid to talk about one of the passions of your life – airplanes? Sorry, the job as an instructor at an AMTS generally isn’t that simple.
It’s more than just talking about airplanes
AMTS instructors must be able to do more than simply "talk about airplanes." Although Part 147 of the FAR details the subject matter that is to be taught at an AMTS, an instructor must effectively and efficiently teach the material using a variety of education methods, including lectures, discussion sessions and demonstrations. In addition, an instructor must act and serve as a role model and mentor to the students — showing professionalism at all times — especially when required to demonstrate maintenance tasks, literally, by the book.
Instructors must be able to develop lesson plans, lectures, laboratory projects and tests. They are also required to remain current in the aviation maintenance industry and continue to develop professionally. Many accomplish this by continuing to work as an A&P and/or by becoming involved in aviation organizations.
Current regulations (Part 147.23, Instructor Requirements) state in part that, "An Aircraft Maintenance Technician School must provide instructors that hold the appropriate mechanic certification and ratings that the Administrator deems necessary to provide adequate instruction and supervision of the students enrolled in the AMTS."
Normally, the appropriate mechanic certification is possession of the Mechanic Certificate with Airframe and Powerplant ratings. Possession of an A&P certificate ensures that the instructor has the basic technical proficiency required to teach at a school. Part 147.23 does allow non-certificated persons to teach "specialty courses" such as mathematics, physics, basic electricity, basic hydraulics, drawing, or similar subject areas. Instructors holding at least an A&P certificate teach the remaining subject areas – reciprocating engines, turbine engines, sheet metal structures, assembly and rigging, etc.
In addition to the A&P certificate, the school may require an applicant to hold other FAA ratings or certificates. One such rating commonly sought is an Inspection Authorization rating. A private pilot certificate might also be a prerequisite for employment. Holding various pilot ratings could mean the difference between being selected over another applicant — all things being equal on maintenance qualifications.
Instructors must have sufficient knowledge of the subject areas, and this is generally recognized by having anywhere from 3 to 10 years of field experience.
A school might be looking for an individual who has knowledge and experience in a specific area of aircraft maintenance, such as repair of composite structures. Or, they might want someone who has a background in all facets of the aviation maintenance industry, including both general aviation and airline experience.
In the past, an applicant that met the number of years of experience, with the majority of that experience in general aviation, was a prime candidate for an AMTS. That’s not necessarily the case today. With an emphasis on the need for the schools to teach more sophisticated subjects such as heavy jet maintenance, advanced electronics and avionics, it only makes sense that the next generation of instructors be more in tune with these disciplines.
An AMTS that is affiliated with a high school, community college or a state university might require that an applicant hold, or be eligible to obtain, a teaching certificate issued by the state in which the AMTS is located. A school that is privately owned or is operated within a private university may not require state certification.