Signing Up: Aircraft, Electronics or Avionics Tech? (LONG thread)

#1
I have already posted a thread very similar to this but still feel undecided on which trade would be the best for me. I HAVE done my research and a friend of mine has spent even longer than me talking to different people in different trades and has concluded that becoming an Aircraft Tech is the best decision for him based on promotion, travel, interesting job structure and general quality of life. There's just a few things that I'm still unsure about and any help would be greatly appreciated.

What are the main differences between an Aircraft and an Avionics Technician?
Is there any benefit to becoming an Aircraft/Avionics Tech over an Electronics Tech?
Which is generally seen as the most respected trade?
I know the answer may be different person to person: but which trade would be the most interesting?
Which trade of the three is the most beneficial in terms of qualification?
Which is the best in terms of promotion rate?
Which would be the best in terms of travelling?
Which would give the most time for other interests? Sports, fitness, hobbies etc
Which gives the best chance of a Civvy job: post-service?
Is it REALLY worth going for Officer straight away as I do want to join relatively soon?

Unfortunately, I kind of want it all. I want to make sure that the job I choose:

- Is interesting (I don't have a SPECIFIC interest in Avionics but I like the general looks of that area)
- Has a good promotion rate, is well paid and gives me a good chance of earning decent money post-service
- Helps me see some of the world
- Makes me actually proud of what I do, I've spent too much time messing around already and want to knuckle down with something properly now.

General info about me:

I'm turning 21 next month, I enjoy playing Rugby although haven't played much recently due to working weekends. I train at the gym on a daily basis and am reasonably strong and fit, I enjoy the idea of working on Electronics although Avionics does interest me but I'm definitely more academic than I am hands-on. Apart from extremely basic electrical skills based around building a few computers, my knowledge is practically non-existent. I do however have 14 A*-C GCSEs and completed a Level 3 BTEC at the equivalent of A*A*A* A-Level.

Sorry for the extensive post, I just can't stress enough how important some accurate responses will be.

Thanks in advance!
 

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#4
Well...

Given the amount of effort, thought and research you have already put into looking into all of this, I suspect you will be one of those who will succeed and do well no matter where you lay your hat.

Anyway, in turn here's what I've come up with so far - and appreciate some of my answers may be factual, whereas some may well just be cuffing it, but either way it will paint a picture...

What are the main differences between an Aircraft and an Avionics Technician?
Aircraft technicians have ugly wives, are often severely overweight and watch too much Star Trek. They constantly bang on about 'twelve-sided dice' and speak 'Klingon', often to the look of utter incomprehension of the Avionics technician they are currently attempting to address; who is by comparison, handsome, slim, and lumbered with enormous genitalia. Avionics technicians also have the ability to dampen a gusset merely by a single stare at over 1000 yards, with sufficient practice and training.

Overall both trades are highly trained professionals who maintain excellent engineering standards and as I mentioned in the other thread, make up some of the most intelligent and capable soldiers I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

Is there any benefit to becoming an Aircraft/Avionics Tech over an Electronics Tech?
Covered briefly again in the other post (as please bear in mind this is a one-sided opinion). In terms of Av vs Elec, both are trained to the same standard in terms of a common electronic engineering syllabus. In other words, if you end up going all the way to Artificer, you'll receive the same training and qualifications whether your beret is dark or light blue, covering everything from electronic principles, analogue systems, digital systems, measurements, microprocessors to even a wee dabbling in quantum physics. The benefits from the aviation side is that you get to do this with aircraft - from the Wildcat to the Apache, some of the most modern avionics systems out there covering electrics, instruments, radio, radar, guided weapons and autopilot / autoflight technology - all carried out within current MAA Regulations.

Which is generally seen as the most respected trade?
I believe it's more of which you respect the most. Generally speaking, I find people perform better in a field of which they have professional pride in - i.e. something that doesn't just pay the bills, but gives them purpose, job satisfaction etc. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of people unhappy in all trades, but a lot of this comes from changes within our Corps over a long period of time. These changes will of course, have no relevance to someone joining up tomorrow - but something to consider in the future.

I know the answer may be different person to person: but which trade would be the most interesting?
Again, this depends on you. Personally I've always loved aircraft. From trying to fly them, to breaking them and putting them back together again. Listening in on the J2 reports from some of the work the AH were doing out in theatre was very rewarding to know the work my Det were doing had so much significance in the overall campaign in Afghanistan.

Which trade of the three is the most beneficial in terms of qualification?
I think all three will get you at least a foundation degree (on completion of Artificer Course). Where you go from there of course is up to you. The aviation quals won't quite cut the mustard unless you live a commutable distance from an airport when you eventually leave. But that said, if you end up going as far as Artificer or Engineering Officer in either trade, there are a whole world of engineering managerial positions out there in all walks of life both in the UK and overseas - all of which you will be well placed to step over to in terms of relevant experience and capability.

Which is the best in terms of promotion rate?
Both the basic aircraft and electronic trade courses are shorter than the avionics course (someone please correct if that's not still the case). So as an aircraft / tech electronic you'll pick up a couple of months earlier. That's about it. Promotion largely depends on your own performance. Your bosses will expect you to do your job well. Promotion is all about what else you bring to the party and proving yourself as being able to operate one, perhaps two, ranks up.

Which would be the best in terms of travelling?
As an avionics trade I have been to Arborfield, Middle Wallop, Germany, Wattisham, Northern Ireland, Croatia, Dishforth, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Hereford, Yeovil, Northolt, Poland, Cyprus, California - and will soon be off to Canada, back to Cyprus and Kenya some time next year.

Sure you could find yourself posted to a Battalion and sweeping the hangars more often than you find yourself turning spanners. Get volunteering for everything, get into a good team sport and you will find more and more doors will begin to open as your profile grows accordingly. I've had soldiers sent all over the world on karate tournaments, rugby tours, skiing - and some just by doing the right course and being suited to the right detachment when they come trawling for volunteers. Sitting in the crew room complaining about how shit your life is, will inevitably ensure it remains as such unless you get out there and make things happen.

Which would give the most time for other interests? Sports, fitness, hobbies etc
See above. Most trades will accommodate someone who understands the play/hard work/hard motto and gives as much as they take. These me-me-me types may do well initially, but it's the ones who get the work/life balance right that are like gold dust and looked after the best and rewarded as such, both with the travel they yearn for and their appraisals and promotion they duly earn.

Which gives the best chance of a Civvy job: post-service?
I wouldn't say there's any difference - but would depend on where you want to settle.

Is it REALLY worth going for Officer straight away as I do want to join relatively soon?
I refer you to my previous answer in another forum on this matter:

http://www.arrse.co.uk/community/th...if-you-join-as-a-soldier.225041/#post-6209550

Unfortunately, I kind of want it all. I want to make sure that the job I choose:
- Is interesting (I don't have a SPECIFIC interest in Avionics but I like the general looks of that area)
- Has a good promotion rate, is well paid and gives me a good chance of earning decent money post-service
- Helps me see some of the world
- Makes me actually proud of what I do, I've spent too much time messing around already and want to knuckle down with something properly now.
...in which case I think you'll do just fine if you remember to maintain a little realism (i.e. don't expect to get promoted instantly and get every sunshine tour going on first look). Some of your service life will be mundane, but if you want the rainbow sometimes you have to put up with the rain, you know? And besides - how can one tell you're having the time of your life, unless you've had some real shit times in there too in order to provide something to compare it with.

General info about me:

I'm turning 21 next month, I enjoy playing Rugby although haven't played much recently due to working weekends. I train at the gym on a daily basis and am reasonably strong and fit, I enjoy the idea of working on Electronics although Avionics does interest me but I'm definitely more academic than I am hands-on. Apart from extremely basic electrical skills based around building a few computers, my knowledge is practically non-existent. I do however have 14 A*-C GCSEs and completed a Level 3 BTEC at the equivalent of A*A*A* A-Level.

Sorry for the extensive post, I just can't stress enough how important some accurate responses will be. Thanks in advance!
Congratulations on making me produce (I think) my longest ever post on ARRSE.

You sound like a very capable and talented individual. Enjoy and let us know how you get on - whichever trade you choose. Good luck.
 
Last edited:

TheresaMay

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
#6
Nice one DC.
Much more eloquently phrased than I could ever hope to achieve.
Well his opening post made a refreshing change from the usual:

"Hi guyz how soon can i go para after da training in basik. I is going to be an armerrer, innit? but i waanna go para coz they is the ardest LOLZ"

...so I felt it worth a more comprehensive reply :)
 
#7
Well his opening post made a refreshing change from the usual:

"Hi guyz how soon can i go para after da training in basik. I is going to be an armerrer, innit? but i waanna go para coz they is the ardest LOLZ"

...so I felt it worth a more comprehensive reply :)
Very true.
Looks to me like the type I would want in my LAD / flight.
If they still have such outmoded terms.
Happy days...
 
#13
@DavidCameron (sold at dampening gussets)
I'm led to believe that a Gusset isn't an electrical item. You may, however, be pleasantly surprised to discover the benefits of a career in any one of the above mentioned trades when you join.

As our new Prime Minister so very rightly said, you make a very refreshing change from the usual lazy newbies who can't be bothered either to visit the AFCIO, or to use Google.

My very Best Wishes to you, may you thoroughly enjoy your career, whichever path you take. You will doubtless do well and be an asset to the Forces.
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
#14
#16
I'll try and answer your original question as impartially as possible - I'm an electronics tech.

I would like to assume that electronics techs are more widely employable. There is a much wider range of equipment to work on, from ECM and radios through to tanks.

In terms of respect, I'm not sure how to answer. Surely you should be happy in the job you're doing rather than worrying what others think. Both are valuable jobs and are obviously required.

As to most interesting, that depends on your perspective. I've deployed on the ground with the combat arms during my career - I don't think there is as much opportunity to do that within the aircraft world. I may be wrong though. Electronics techs will gain a broader experience of all things military by virtue of the wider range of posts available.

Qualifications available to electronics techs now depend on what you put in. I have a few NVQ quals which have helped me join the IET and ECUK. Well worth it, especially post service for that all important second career.

I think promotion timelines are equal for all three trades. All offer the artificer route.

As for travelling and other interests, again, equal for all. There are opportunities to go everywhere within both trades and as you're probably already aware, the Army places a huge emphasis on sport and adventurous training. I sit in the office at Trails End Camp in Canada (a type 2 AT centre) as I type this!

As an electronics tech, providing you do the little extra work required for the NVQs and institute membership, you'll be highly employable. During the recent redundancies, a few of my colleagues left the forces and all have found employment.

As an officer, you'll spend more time managing soldiers rather than actual engineering. As a soldier, you'll learn your trade and then eventually move into the middle management side of things.

I know some of the answers are quite vague, so if you want more in depth info on life as an electronics tech, let me know. I presume you've already gone through the sticky thread too!

R*


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