aviation structural mechanic - AM rate
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US Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic (AM): Career Profile

Here is an important Navy Job that has been done by Navy enlisted personnel for almost 100 years now.

This Navy position was first established way back in 1921.

It used to be known as an Aviation Metalsmith but that has since evolved into the modern-day Aviation Structural Mechanic position in the Navy.

Aviation Structural Mechanics (AM) can best be described as Navy personnel that are responsible for taking care of everything on the inside and outside of a Navy aircraft airframe with the exception of the engines.

Without these dedicated Navy professionals it would be hard for the many different aircraft that the Navy uses to stay flight-ready.

It’s a demanding job that requires attention to detail, great manual dexterity, and a willingness to work as part of a team to get tasks accomplished.

With this position also comes a great opportunity for travel and the possibility of serving aboard Navy ships that have aircraft attached to them such as the new generation of super-carriers.

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Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic Requirements and Qualifications

Here is what it takes to qualify to start training to become an enlisted US Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic:

Educational Requirements

  • High School Diploma
  • GED

ASVAB Requirements

  • Minimum combined ASVAB Score of 210 on Verbal Expression, Mechanical Comprehension, Arithmetic Reasoning and Math Knowledge.

-OR-

  • Minimum combined ASVAB Score of 210 on Arithmetic Reasoning, Verbal Expression, Auto and Shop Information, and Math Knowledge

These same ASVAB requirements are needed to enter into the Navy as an  Aviation Structural Mechanic – Equipment (AME) rate too.

Additional Qualifications

  • Be between the ages of 17 and 34 unless in possession of a waiver
  • Be a United States Citizen
  • Must be able to speak clearly
  • A background in doing shop related or other mechanical tasks is preferred but not required
  • Must have at least average physical strength and have good manual dexterity
  • Successful completion of 8 weeks of Navy Basic Recruit Training held at Great Lakes Naval Training Center which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, close to Chicago (Not required of those with prior military experience or training)
  • Depending on the job specialty, an enlisted member may be required to undergo a background check to obtain a security clearance

Training and Career Path to Become a Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic

Here is the specialized training required to become a working Aviation Structural Mechanic in the US Navy.

Navy Technical Training Information

The Class “A” technical school for the technical training required to become a full fledged Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic takes place at the Navy Technical Training Center (NATTC) located in Pensacola, Florida.

This technical training program lasts approximately 2 ½ months long.

During this training course, recruits are taught the basic knowledge required to perform the duties of a Navy AM.

More focused on the job training will take place at an enlisted member’s first permanent duty station.

Those going into the AME rate or other AM specialties may be required to attend  additional 1 to 3-week training sessions at this same training facility.

How Much Are US Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics Paid?

US Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic pay is based on an enlisted member’s current rank and the amount of time they have spent in the military.

Most new US Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics will start out at a pay grade somewhere between Seaman Recruit (E-1) to Seaman (E-3).  

Here is the current paytable for Navy enlisted personnel based on rank and time in service:

InsigniaPay GradeRankAbbreviation2019 Pay (monthly)
N/AE-1Seaman RecruitSR$1,681
E-2Seaman ApprenticeSA$1,884
e-3 navy seamanE-3SeamanSN$1,981
petty officer third classE-4Petty Officer Third ClassPO3$2,195
petty officer second classE-5Petty Officer Second ClassPO2$2,394
petty officer first classE-6Petty Officer First ClassPO1$2,613
chief petty officerE-7Chief Petty OfficerCPO$3,021
senior chief petty officerE-8Senior Chief Petty OfficerSCPO$4,345
master chief petty officerE-9Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPO$5,308
command master chief petty officerE-9Command Master Chief Petty OfficerCMDCM$5,429
master chief petty officer of the navyE-9Master Chief Petty Officer Of The NavyMCPON$5,580

Advancement through the Seamen ranks (E-1 to E-3) is done simply by time in grade.

Higher enlisted ranks are gained by a combination of job knowledge, testing, and time in grade.

Miscellaneous Pay, Allowances, and Incentives

Here are some other forms of pay and incentives that Navy personnel may be eligible for at certain times:

  • Housing allowance for those that live off base (BAH)
  • Subsistence allowance (Food – BAS)
  • Temporary duty pay
  • Hazardous duty pay
  • Sea duty pay (Separation pay)
  • 100% paid healthcare
  • Tuition reimbursement

What’s Life Like as a Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic?

US Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics have a variety of jobs that they are expected to perform.

These include:

  • Maintain, remove, repair and replace hydraulic system equipment, auxiliary power systems and unit actuating subsystems
  • Maintain aircraft landing gear, brakes, and related pneumatic systems
  • Maintain, remove, repair and replace aircraft fuselage parts, wing components, fixed and movable surfaces, airfoils, flight seats, control panels, and associated mechanisms.
  • Maintain and repair pneumatic power systems, storage and distribution systems, aircraft hoists and winches, wing and tail folding systems and launch and arresting gear equipment
  • Undertake hydraulic component systems repairs such as hydraulic power storage systems, main and secondary distribution systems, hydraulic auxiliary systems, and aircraft emergency systems and then test these repairs for reliability
  • Perform daily preflight, post-flight and other periodic routine aircraft inspections

Related ArticleNavy Airman (AN): Career Details 

AME Rate Job Duties

While those serving as an Aviation Structural Mechanic concentrate on an aircraft airframe and the working parts attached to it, Aviation Structural Mechanics with an ‘E’ designator focus more on aircraft safety and egress equipment.

This includes such tasks as:

  • Maintaining safety belts, shoulder harnesses and integrated flight harnesses in aircraft
  • Maintaining and repairing inertia reels and seat and canopy ejection systems
  • Replenish liquid and gaseous oxygen systems; remove, repair and re-install oxygen system valves, gages, converters, and regulators
  • Maintaining and repairing liferaft ejection systems, fire extinguishing systems, portable fire extinguishers, emergency egress systems, air-conditioning, heating, and cabin and cockpit pressurization
  • Work on aircraft ventilating and anti-gravity systems
  • Maintain and repair aircraft egress systems including seat and canopy ejection systems and their related components
  • Be able to operate and maintain liquid nitrogen, liquid oxygen, and gaseous oxygen transfer and recharging equipment

Travel Opportunities and Shipboard Assignments

A Navy enlisted member who serves many years in the Navy as an Aviation Structural Mechanic can expect an approximate 50/50 ratio between being stationed onshore and serving on-board a ship.

This navy job usually requires a large amount of temporary duty travel no matter where an enlisted member performing the duties of an AM is stationed.

This is something that may be very hard on those who are married and have children.

Job Reviews

Here is what three former Aviation Structural Mechanics had to say about their Navy experience.

These reviews appeared on the website Indeed.com:

Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic Civilian Career Opportunities

There are many aircraft in the world that need to be constantly worked on and maintained.

That translates to there being lots of civilian employment opportunities for former Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics.

Many of these jobs are connected to domestic and cargo airlines and the support companies that keep these aircraft up and flying.

The expected pay range for many of these jobs is usually between $16 – $45 per hour.

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Here are some examples of civilian employers that are known to hire former Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics:

  • MD Helicopters – Mesa, AZ
  • Cora Aero – Mountain View, CA
  • Virgin Galactic – Mojave, CA
  • C & L Aviation Group – Bangor, ME
  • Sun Country Airlines – Minneapolis, MN
  • LifePort & Enflite – Woodland, WA
  • Cessna Aircraft – Wichita, KS

Those former Navy Aviation Structural Mechanics that possess a security clearance will find this a valuable asset to have when job hunting.

References:

Navy Dads

Navy Cool

Navycs.com

Craig S.

Craig spent many years on active duty service in the Air Force stationed in such places as Okinawa, Japan and SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. While in the military, he spent time analyzing imagery from a variety of aircraft such as the SR-71. He was also one of the first enlisted members in the Air Force to experience working with near real time satellite imagery. Craig currently resides in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and runs his own business.
Craig S.

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