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Career and Education Opportunities for Aircraft Mechanics in Charleston, South Carolina

For those living in the Charleston, South Carolina area, there are many career and education opportunities for aircraft mechanics. Currently, 1,060 people work as aircraft mechanics in South Carolina. This is expected to grow by 14% to about 1,210 people by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for aircraft mechanics are expected to grow by about 6.4%. In general, aircraft mechanics diagnose, adjust, or overhaul aircraft engines and assemblies, such as hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

Aircraft mechanics earn approximately $21 per hour or $44,960 annually on average in South Carolina. Nationally they average about $24 hourly or $51,390 yearly. Earnings for aircraft mechanics are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of Aircraft in South Carolina and better than general Aircraft category earnings nationally.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Charleston where you can study to be an aircraft mechanic, among fourteen schools of higher education total in the Charleston area. The most common level of education for aircraft mechanics is a post-secondary certificate. You can expect to spend a short time studying to be an aircraft mechanic if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Aircraft Mechanic

In general, aircraft mechanics diagnose, adjust, or overhaul aircraft engines and assemblies, such as hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

Aircraft mechanics read and interpret maintenance manuals and other specifications to establish the feasibility and method of repairing or replacing malfunctioning or damaged parts. They also remove or repair worn, faulty, or damaged parts, using hand tools and testing equipment. Equally important, aircraft mechanics have to maintain and rebuild aircraft structures and parts such as wings and fuselage and seals. They are often called upon to assemble and install electrical, plumbing and structural parts and accessories, using hand or power tools. They are expected to examine and inspect aircraft parts, including landing gear and deicers to identify cracks or other problems. Finally, aircraft mechanics measure parts for wear, using precision instruments.

Every day, aircraft mechanics are expected to be able to read and understand documents and reports. They need to control and manipulate objects at a fine level of detail. It is also important that they evaluate problems as they arise.

It is important for aircraft mechanics to inventory and requisition or order supplies, parts and equipment. They are often called upon to examine airframes for wear or other defects. They also measure the tension of control cables. They are sometimes expected to clean and sand structural surfaces and materials to ready them for bonding. Somewhat less frequently, aircraft mechanics are also expected to decide on repair limits for engine hot section parts.

Aircraft mechanics sometimes are asked to modify aircraft structures or parts, following drawings and technical publications. They also have to be able to maintain repair logs, documenting all preventive and corrective aircraft maintenance and listen to operating engines to uncover and diagnose malfunctions such as sticking or burned valves. And finally, they sometimes have to remove and install in-flight refueling stores and external fuel tanks.

Like many other jobs, aircraft mechanics must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Charleston include:

  • Auto Mechanic. Repair automobiles, trucks, and other vehicles. Master mechanics repair virtually any part on the vehicle or specialize in the transmission system.
  • Avionics Technician. Install, inspect, or repair avionics equipment, such as radar, radio, and missile control systems in aircraft or space vehicles.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Aircraft Mechanic Training

Trident Technical College - Charleston, SC

Trident Technical College, 7000 Rivers Avenue, Charleston, SC 29423-8067. Trident Technical College is a large college located in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 12,758 students. Trident Technical College has 2 areas of study related to Aircraft Mechanic. They are:

  • Airframe Mechanics & Aircraft Maintenance Technology/Technician, less than one year which graduated 8 students in 2008.
  • Aircraft Powerplant Technology/Technician, less than one year which graduated 17 students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Airmen Certification: Include the following areas:

  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Flight Engineers, Flight Navigators, Aircraft Dispatchers, and Control Tower Operators
  • 8610-1 (PDF) - Mechanic's Application for Inspection Authorization
  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Mechanics, Repairman, and Parachute Riggers
  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Pilots, Flight Instructors and Ground Instructors
  • Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for Sport Pilot

Medical Certification:

Certified Lubrication Specialist: Certification recognizes those individuals who possess current knowledge of lubrication fundamentals and theory.

For more information, see the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers website.

Certified Aerospace Technician: The SpaceTEC Certified Aerospace Technician Core exam is a three part exam consisting of a 70 question, computer based, written exam, followed by an oral and practical evaluation of an individual's technical knowledge and skills.

For more information, see the SpaceTEC website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina photo by AudeVivere

Charleston is situated in Charleston County, South Carolina. It has a population of over 111,978, which has grown by 15.9% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Charleston, 94, is below the national average. New single-family homes in Charleston cost $157,600 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, five hundred eight new homes were built in Charleston, down from eight hundred seventy-eight the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Charleston are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is accommodation and food services, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services. The average commute to work is about 20 minutes. More than 37.5% of Charleston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.9%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Charleston is 10.5%, which is less than South Carolina's average of 12.0%.

The percentage of Charleston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 42.7%, is less than both the national and state average. Plymouth Congregational Church, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church are among the churches located in Charleston. The largest religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church.

Charleston is home to the United State Department of Agriculture and the The Center as well as Harmon Field and Stoney Field. Shopping malls in the area include Church Creek Plaza Shopping Center, Citadel Mall Shopping Center and South Windermere Shopping Center. Visitors to Charleston can choose from French Quarter Inn, Fulton Lane Inn and Budget Inn for temporary stays in the area.