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Dreary office job to aircraft engineer


Nicole Brian’s career took off by leaving an office job to work in an aircraft hangar. The 24 year-old is on the way to becoming an aircraft engineer by training on-job with Air New Zealand in Christchurch.

When she completes her apprenticeship, Nicole aims to gain her Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Licence which will allow her to release aircraft for service. 

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How to become an aircraft engineer

It starts at school – successfully completing English, maths (NCEA Level 2), science and ideally physics – gives you the basics you need to get started.

Traditionally, many successful aircraft engineers have started in the classroom and moved into a job with an apprenticeship. If you’re still at school, a great way to discover if this is the right career for you is to sign up for the ServiceIQ Gateway Aviation programme. You’ll get a good feel for the industry, plus credits towards your NCEA.

From there, you could join the RNZAF, or study at a tertiary institution to complete a pre-employment course, then become an apprentice like Nicole, earning as you learn, gaining the qualifications on-job to set up your career. 

Where an aircraft engineer works

Aviation engineers work in aircraft hangars, in and around the aircraft and out on the tarmac as part of the job maintaining aircraft. They work at airports for private and commercial aviation companies, agricultural topdressing companies and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Other jobs you might like

Aviation offers many other exciting roles at airports, both on the ground and in the air: from pilots, flight attendants, aircraft stores manager, air traffic controllers, baggage handlers, ramp operators and airport operations assistants, customer check-in representatives, and many more.

What do I do next?

These roles all offer you the opportunity to build a rewarding and satisfying career in the exciting aviation industry. Prepare for your first, or next, job with these tips on how to get a job.