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.
Today, many schools will require that the applicant has achieved some level of education beyond an A&P — typically a bachelor’s degree. Some private institutions may require one to have a master’s degree. Note, however, that even though there might be a degree requirement; the type of degree, or its area of specialization, may be flexible. Still, many institutions prefer that a candidate have a degree in an aviation maintenance-related discipline. Institutions offering bachelor degrees may also require that an instructor engage in research and other scholarly activities such as writing and presenting papers at industry conferences and seminars.
Where are the jobs?
There are options available besides scouring the classified ads in the newspaper. One way is to mail resumes to the schools. Or, contact the local FAA office in charge of supervising an AMTS. Often, the local FAA inspector is aware of possible employment opportunities and could help put you in contact with the AMTS.
Use the Internet. Many schools utilize Web sites, not only as a means of attracting potential students, but also, instructors.
Organizations such as the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA), or the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), or the University Aviation Association (UAA) are possible sources of employment information. The newsletters or magazines of these organizations often contain employment information. Most trade organizations maintain Web sites and typically provide links to electronic copies of their newsletters or magazines.
The vast majority of tomorrow’s aircraft maintenance technicians come from aircraft maintenance technician schools. Well-qualified instructors are a crucial component of any school. If you are ready to make the career move to become an instructor, don’t hesitate to contact an AMTS.
You could be exactly the type of person that they are looking for!
Stephen G. Magoc has been an instructor for the past 22 years in the Aircraft Maintenance Technician School operated by Parks College of Engineering and Aviation of Saint Louis University. He holds the academic rank of Professor and is also the Coordinator of Maintenance Training for Department of Aerospace Technology at Parks College.