How to Become a Helicopter Mechanic: Finding Your Why
Learning how to become a helicopter mechanic will take a lot of work. However, it’s also a valuable and extremely rewarding job.
If you’re interested in learning more about the job, what it entails, and how you can start your own career path, here are tips on how to become a helicopter mechanic.
What is a helicopter mechanic?
A helicopter mechanic needs technical and mechanical skills in order to succeed.
They must understand the complexities of various engines in the world of aviation. They must also possess the following skills.
Experience in the field
Having prior experience in the field of aviation is always preferred. Helicopter mechanics must be knowledgeable; therefore, they must already have years of industry knowledge. However, their knowledge doesn’t have to be limited to simply helicopters. Knowing how to fly a plane also counts as a viable experience.
Experience as a mechanic
Having experience as a past mechanic is also valuable if you want to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic.
This can include experience on any kind of engine. Since most engines function the same way, this foundation of knowledge can make learning the necessary skills to fix helicopters much easier to learn.
You must know how to troubleshoot
Helicopter mechanics must also be skilled troubleshooters. They must understand how to approach problems methodically and boil down the variables to a single solution.
The mechanic must also have great critical thinking skills
If you wish to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic, you must also learn how to think critically. Problems in one area of the engine can affect the entire plane!
Communication skills are key
You will not work alone when you become a helicopter mechanic. Odds are, you will have an entire team under you. Therefore, you need to know how to communicate effectively and properly. If you’re unsure whether or not you’re an expert communicator, think back to whether or not you possess the following skills.
- You balance speaking and listening when communicating with your team. You never find yourself doing all the talking. When others approach you with a question or statement, you actively listen and wait for your turn to speak.
- You do not judge others when a member of your team brings up an important issue.
- You enjoy communicating face to face. Things can often get misconstrued over email. However, person to person interaction is optimal for getting your point across in the best way possible.
- You believe that you are an empathetic person. When a member of your team is running late, you understand that this can happen to anyone!
- You also are mindful of your body language. Nonverbal communication can be as telling as the words coming out of your mouth. You know that you’re a master communicator if you are able to get these two styles down.
Being a great communicator is crucial if you want to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic. Before you take any major steps towards this career path, ensure that you have many of these traits.
If you want to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic, you will need the mental tools listed above.
However, a mechanic also works with several physical tools.
Helicopter mechanic training and education
Mechanics who wish to specialize in helicopter mechanics must undergo intense training. These hours of training are required by law by the Federal Aviation Association.
This schooling involves taking multiple courses that cover a variety of relevant topics.
Aviation maintenance technology programs
This program is 21 months long. It’s also a required program when you want to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic.
You will receive 93 credit hours total. This series of courses also provide the graduate with the proper skills they need for a position in today’s world of aviation. It consists of a series of general education courses and aircraft system knowledge.
It can also help foster and develop those critical thinking skills discussed earlier. This program will also help the potential graduate develop strong math and communication skills.
Aviation maintenance technical engineer
This program is 27 months long and requires 98 hours of credit in Texas. The same program is more demanding out of state. It requires 100.5 in other states. It trains you on the basic theories of flight. However, it also teaches you more on topics like working with sheet metal hydraulics. And avionics.
You will also learn how piston and turbine engines work.
Cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Washington, and Orlando all offer this program.
Trade focused programs
There are also a variety of trade focused programs that you must take if you want to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic. Engine and tire repair are part of the job. But there are also more skills you must master. Trade courses will help you get there. For example, combination welding is imperative.
Combination welding consists of learning how to work with metals, machines, and with your hands. This diploma also allows you to develop the basic techniques involved in flame cutting and welding.
Helicopter mechanic salary
Before entering one of these programs to learn how to develop relationships with helicopter parts suppliers, it’s imperative to know the starting salary of this career path. This factor can help you determine whether or not it’s the right path for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a helicopter mechanic can expect to make 63,000 in their first year. Mechanics with more experience can make up to 93,000 a year. Mechanics can also expect benefits in tandem with their yearly salary.
These benefits can include health insurance, paid time off, and more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the industry is growing. They expect it to grow 5 percent over the next ten years or so. This growth rate is average when compared to other job industries. However, this also means that there is a greater demand for more mechanics every day.
Common issues with helicopters
Now that you know more about what the job entails, it’s imperative that you also know more about what kinds of issues helicopters endure. This can give you an idea of what types of problems you’ll have to solve with this job title. You’ll be doing more than simply fixing the brake controller.
Erosion happens when dust and other elements eat at the metal on the helicopter’s exterior. As a qualified mechanic, you will have to learn to replace these parts that have been exposed to storms and other forms of inclement weather.
Mechanical failure is also another problem that a pilot can endure while in flight. Yearly inspections are crucial. A mechanic can replace rotating equipment if it’s old or no longer able to work properly.
Loss of power
Loss of power is also a popular mechanical issue a mechanic should be familiar with. This happens when there is a loss of power. The rotor RPM will slow down and diminish. The rate that this process occurs is all dependant on the amount of kinetic energy that is stored in the moving rotor system at the time of failure.
While a mechanic may not be able to prevent this type of issue, they can ensure the helicopter is in excellent condition before it flies off of the ground.
It’s also a mechanic’s responsibility to ensure the helicopter can be fueled properly. Fuel shortage is another reason helicopters typically crash. Hydraulic component repair is also important.
Benefits of learning how to become a helicopter mechanic
If you think that learning how to become a helicopter mechanic is a difficult process – you’re absolutely right! It’s not a career for everyone. You must be organized, display great leadership skills, and learn new skills quickly. A helicopter mechanic must also be well versed in math and science. If spending hours studying the trade doesn’t seem worth it to you, perhaps consider the benefits of choosing this career path!
The positive aspects may make taking all of the exams and attending classes worth it in the end.
Many people derive their happiness and confidence from the work they do. If you find that this statement applies to you, then perhaps learning how to become a helicopter mechanic is a great idea!
You can support a family with your annual salary. Working with your hands is also incredibly rewarding. If you love being hands-on, this is the position for you. You will also learn about a topic that not many people may know about. Helicopter mechanics is a tricky subject. In fact, not many people even know how the vessel gets off the ground.
However, as a mechanic, you will have all the technical skills needed to repair many models of helicopters!
The demand is high
As previously stated, the aviation mechanics industry has been growing steadily. There are many jobs in the field. After completing your training and taking the proper exams to get certified, you can easily find a new and exciting job opportunity. Ensure your resume highlights your strong suits when going job hunting. It may take some time and patience — but let your skills speak for themselves, and you’ll surely find a team and company that you love.
It’s a versatile position
Once you understand the complex mechanics of the helicopter engine, you’ll be able to understand how other forms of aviation can run.
If learning how to repair helicopters ever becomes stale, you can easily move onto something else.
You’re on your feet all day
When you become a helicopter mechanic, you won’t be sitting in a boring office all day. You will be on your feet in a fast paced environment. If you have found office jobs to be mind numbingly boring in the past, this career will be a great change of pace.
You’ll be making the world a safer place
Perhaps one of the best parts about choosing this career path is that you will be making the skies a safer place to fly!
In order to become a helicopter mechanic, you will also need to take a series of exams. This will include oral and written exams. You will also need to be over 18 years old before applying to your program of choice. After passing your exams, you will have to get your certification through the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will ask you to show proof of passing an approved school or program. You will also have to display evidence of experience working with power plants to gain a better grasp of what is expected of you as a mechanic.
Working as a helicopter mechanic will give you a list of great companies to work for. Therefore, if you want to learn how to become a helicopter mechanic, make sure to follow these steps. It’s not a career for everyone. However, if you’re motivated, want a fast paced career, and wish to make the skies a safer and better place to fly — you’re in luck.
A helicopter mechanic is the perfect job for you!