Avionics technicians aren’t required to be licensed or certified to test aircraft instruments, assemble components, repair malfunctioning pieces or install software and instrument panels. However, some seek optional certifications through the National Center for Aerospace and Transportation Technologies or through an accredited repair station. Those who specialize in communications equipment may obtain a General Radiotelephone Operators License that’s issued by the Federal Communications Commission and allows them to work independently or to supervise others on the job.
Meet the Basic Requirements
The GROL credential recognizes avionics technicians who can independently fix radars, transponders and radios in modern aircraft, and who can supervise unlicensed techs performing repairs. There aren’t any formal education requirements, nor do candidates have to attend Avionics Technician School. However, candidates must be legal United States residents or they must prove that they have permission to work in the country. According to the FCC, candidates also must be able to transmit and receive spoken messages in English.
Pass the Written Tests
The first GROL exam covers general radio laws and operating practices that the FCC considers content that every maritime radio operator should know. Candidates must correctly answer 18 out of 24 test questions to pass. The second portion of the exam focuses on electronics knowledge necessary to repair, modify and maintain radio receivers and transmitters, including antennas and feed lines, signals and emissions, circuit components and practical circuits. The second exam consists of 100 questions and requires 75 correct answers to pass.
Send the Licensing Forms
The Commercial Operator License Examination Manager issues Proof of Passing Certifications to successful candidates. Some COLEMs offer a filing service, where they electronically file certifications with the FCC on behalf of successful candidates. The original certifications must be submitted, along with the FCC Form 605, to obtain the GROL license. The FCC notes that forms can be completed and sent electronically or printed and mailed in. According to the FCC, the GROL license is issued for the holder’s lifetime, without maintenance or renewal requirements.
The GROL credential can help avionics technicians advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Extra training in management or business can assist technicians who want to own a maintenance facility. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for avionics techs is expected to rise 3% from 2012 to 2022, which is below the 11% projected growth rate for all occupations. Candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree may have an advantage in entering the field and moving up in the workplace.
2016 Salary Information for Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians earned a median annual salary of $60,230 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians earned a 25th percentile salary of $48,370, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $73,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 149,500 people were employed in the U.S. as aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians.