Established in 1955, the Aviation Electronics Technician (AT) rating was formerly Aviation Electronicsman (AL), which itself was established in 1948 from the rating of Aviation Radioman (ARM), created in 1942. The rating bears much in common with the Aviation Electrician’s Mate (AE); like that rating, sailors who reach a paygrade of E9 earn the new rating of AVCM: Master Chief Avionics Technician. One notable former AT is Billy C. Sanders, who eventually became the fifth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (1982-1985).
Sailors pursuing the AT rating must first attend a class in basic electronics before enrolling in a 21-week course at the Class “A” Technical School at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola. Upon graduation, AT sailors will work in one of four jobs: Calibration Technician, Electronics Technician (Intermediate or Organizational Level), or Intermediate Level Automatic Test Equipment Technician.
Employment opportunities for ATs entering the civilian workforce are varied and usually highly rewarding in terms of compensation because of the equipment they worked with during their Naval career. Among the systems ATs operate, maintain, and troubleshoot are digital computers, laser electronics, fiber optics, electrical generation, transformers and circuitry, navigation, and infrared detection. During their Navy career, ATs can expect to spend one-third more time assigned to fleet units than at shore stations.