A Day in the Life of an Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) Student
I have worked in different trades throughout the years, trying to fulfill dreams of doing things I like and enjoyed. Coming from a truck driver family, I got my CDL and worked as a truck driver for many years, I enjoyed driving, but the lifestyle and the pay instability made me look elsewhere. The money was good in some of the trades I dabbled in, but it did not fulfill what I enjoyed doing. I dreaded going to work every day that I did not continue my education for different reasons when I first came out of high school. So, last year, against all odds and second-guessing myself, I quit my well-paying job and took a big pay cut to enroll in school to become an AMT student and obtain my A&P.
From the moment I walked into school "just to ask for information," I knew this was where I wanted to be.
When I first started AMT school, I thought it would be too much for me to handle. I questioned whether or not I was going to be able to manage my busy schedule, maintaining a full-time job and school, and if I could do it all at once. But being in AMT school has taught me how to get back into the habit of studying and properly managing my time. Doing and learning something you enjoy makes you want to make the extra effort to make things work. I enjoy what I'm learning at school. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that all the effort I'm putting into it is paying off.
Against many odds, I am thrilled to say I am currently enrolled in my 6th term to obtain my A&P certificate. In Texas, it's a 15-month program, as in most states. Term one was the hardest because I was taking all my generals since I had been out of school for so long and had no transferable subjects. Basically, I had to get electricity, math, English, human factors, college algebra, and humanities out of the way. It sounds like a lot, but the truth is that they were not that hard, just time-consuming. Basic electricity was the class I got the most out of primarily because it is something that you will be using through all eight terms.
Throughout each course, you are required to do specific projects. The projects helped to put things into perspective—for example, basic electricity. Sitting in class and listening to lectures didn't make much sense, but once we got to work with batteries, circuits, multimeters, and other circuit boards, things made sense and helped tie in the lecture part.
After I was done with term one, we learned about the forms and regulations that most mechanics need to follow when working on aircraft. We also learned about weight and balance and the importance of it when working on any plane.
When we worked on reciprocating engines, the fun began. The reciprocating engines used on airplanes are basically the same concept as an engine in a vehicle. However, they have certain distinctive settings or components. I found it fun to learn about them and put my hands on them.
Next was turbine engines! We got to tear one completely apart and understand how they work from the inside out. Once we reassembled the turbine engine, we got to actually run a fully functional turbine engine out on the runway, perform a preignition checkup, and learn the entire process of how it works.
One thing that I enjoyed the most was when we got to taxi an aircraft around the runway. I enjoyed discovering how things worked, how to read the different gauges, what to look for in a regular operation or in a specific situation that was given, and how to recognize a problem.
I am now on term 6 out of 8 with a 3.9 GPA, still maintaining a full-time job and getting a few hours of sleep whenever I can because school is very demanding. However, we are done with the powerplant courses and moving on to the airframe courses. We are learning about signals, radios, transmitters, and communication; so many things that I would not have imagined! We are learning about how they work, and I am amazed to learn how to put my hands on these components and make them work, making them useful for such a delicate industry.
Looking forward to 3 more terms and learning as much as I can and graduate at the end of June, and start my career in this industry.
I will say that for people who enjoy working with their hands, for people who are curious about how things work, what makes things move, and what makes things work the way that they do, believe me when I tell you this field is where you will enjoy working every day.
AMT school is not easy, but it is rewarding. It is rewarding to make it through, to overcome every obstacle that life is throwing at you, making you doubt if you got what it takes to be successful. Things don't have to be perfect. They don't have to be exactly what we expect, like the school I'm attending was not prepared to have "virtual" classes. Still, I have my eyes focused on my result, I know what I want, and I know it's going to take a lot of effort to get there, even if the conditions around it are not perfect, I will make them work so I can obtain what I'm working for. Like, I have been told so many times and have learned throughout the years, nothing that is good will be easy, or else everyone would do it.