Navy Job: Aviation Electrician's Mate (AE)

These sailors keep Navy aircraft in working order

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••• Electrician's Mate 1st Class Dave Brusby scans the streets while conducting search and rescue missions from a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter. U.S. Navy/Getty Images

Aviation Electrician's Mates (AE) are the Navy's aircraft electricians. They maintain a wide range of electrical and navigational equipment in Navy aircraft, and are trained on all the computer systems that support this state-of-the-art equipment. 

In certain situations, these sailors may volunteer to fly as Navy aircrew members. This could involve performing in-flight duties such as operating radar and weapons systems in turbo jets, helicopters or propeller aircraft. 

Duties Performed by a Navy Aviation Electrician's Mate

There's a long list of possible duties in this job, including testing, installing and maintaining a wide range of aircraft instruments and electrical equipment like generators, motors and lighting systems. They read electrical system diagrams, maintain aircraft compass systems and perform electrical troubleshooting operations.

Given the nature of the job, an aviation electrician's mate will use a variety of electrical measuring equipment, maintain automatic flight control systems; and inertial navigation systems in addition to performing as aircrew on various aircraft.

An important note about this rating (job): you can't get the AE rating as a "guaranteed job" in your enlistment contract. Volunteers for this rating enlist in the Navy as an Aviation Sailor (AV), and are selected for either this rating, or the Aviation Electronics Technician (AT) rating upon graduation from the Common Basics Electronics Course at A-School (job school).

Working Environment for a Navy Aviation Electrician's Mate

Sailors in this career field will perform duties at sea and ashore around the world. There is really no typical day: they may be working at a land-based aircraft squadron or onboard an aircraft carrier for a time, either indoors or outdoors and a short time later may find themselves in a shop environment or in office surroundings.

Sometimes they work at a clean lab bench, other times they're in a garage. They work closely with others, require little supervision, and do mental and physical work of a highly technical nature.

Training for Navy Aviation Electrician's Mate

To qualify for this job, you'll need one of two possible combined scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery tests.

Option one is a combined score of 222 on the arithmetic (AR), mathematics knowledge (MK), electronics information (EI) and general science (GS) segments. The second option is a combined score of 222 on the verbal (VE), AR, MK, and mechanical comprehension (MC) segments. 

In addition, since you'll be handling potentially sensitive equipment, you'll need to be able to qualify for a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense. This includes a background check of your character and finances, as well as a criminal records check. Past drug use or alcohol abuse will disqualify you from receiving this clearance. 

You'll also need to have vision correctable to 20/20, normal color perception (no colorblindness), and be a U.S. citizen. 

Sea/Shore Rotation for Aviation Electrician's Mate

  • First Sea Tour: 48 months
  • First Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Second Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Second Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Third Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Third Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Fourth Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Fourth Shore Tour: 36 months