Aeronautical engineering refers to the study, design, and production of various aircraft.
From designing, building, analyzing, and testing, aeronautical engineering covers most of the facets of flight technology and related systems. Ultimately, aeronautical engineers get to build and test the various aircraft that we use every day, as well as the modern innovations entering the future of aviation.
So, if you’re passionate about the mathematics and science behind designing and constructing aircraft, then this would be an ideal role to consider pursuing.
Here, we’ll be sharing more details with you about how to become a professional aeronautical and manufacturing engineer in the science industry. This particular role offers an exciting opportunity to become more involved in the research, design, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, and other types of aviation equipment.
If you’re interested in learning more information about aeronautical engineering, keep reading this guide!
What Does an Aeronautical Engineer Do?
Aeronautical engineers are responsible for handling a lot of the behind-the-scenes in aviation. They test propulsion systems for efficiency and ensure that various aircraft are safe for operation.
An aeronautical engineer’s common focuses are on aircraft design, development, production, and experimentation. If you’re interested in becoming an aeronautical engineer in one particular area of the field, you may consider specializing in an area like structural design, navigation, propulsion, instrumentation, communication, or robotics.
So what exactly are the job duties of an aeronautical engineer? Let’s find out.
Aeronautical engineers hold plenty of responsibilities in the science industry. And because of that, there is a strong need for aeronautical engineers in the aviation industry.
However, many of the job opportunities for aeronautical engineers are more relevant for candidates who have already completed a special graduate program.
Typically, an aeronautical engineer may handle the following duties:
- Developing new aircraft technology
- Researching new aircraft technology
- Manufacturing new aircraft technology
- Testing potential aircraft technology
- Experimenting with new flight equipment
- Producing innovative jet engines
- Developing drones
- Coding within the advanced software system
Understand that coding is still a newer development for aeronautical engineers and is becoming an important aspect of the engineering industry. Working with new aircraft technology will require someone to develop complex coding skills and have a knack for data collection.
In addition to the basic job responsibilities of an aeronautical engineer, acquiring certain special skills would add a welcome bonus to the role. Some special skills can be innate, but you can definitely acquire other skills with plenty of practice.
According to a typical aeronautical engineer job description, here are some of the important special skills you should have:
- Strong mathematical, analytical, and problem-solving skills
- High attention to detail
- Understanding key trends and technological advancements in the engineering industry
- Understanding safety protocols surrounding sensitive equipment
- Strong technical expertise
- Creative thinker
- Excellent project and time management skills
- Keen ability to meet deadlines and work in a high-pressure environment
- Terrific interpersonal communications skills
- Writing skills
How To Become an Aeronautical Engineer
So, you want to become a professional aeronautical engineer?
To do so, you’ll likely need to complete a formal education in the field. The path to education for aeronautical engineers includes participating in a specialized program at an accredited institution and a license, depending on your home state.
As a professional aeronautical engineer, the types of aviation technologies you may be expected to manufacture include:
- Supersonic jets
- Space shuttles
- Commercial aircraft
- Military aircraft
Now, let’s review the path to becoming an aeronautical engineer.
The Educational Path to Becoming an Aeronautical Engineer
First, you’ll need to complete a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering at an accredited institution, certified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Most programs will last between four and five years.
Furthermore, many specialized education programs for aeronautical engineering students will also allow you to undergo experiential learning, which will grant you hands-on exposure to different facets of aeronautical engineering and flight theory. The learning areas may include software simulations, navigating drones, or flight testing.
In the early years of your aeronautical engineering program, expect to participate in courses in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Alongside these courses, you’ll work in hands-on introductory labs that will allow you to begin flight and propulsion testing.
Eventually, the lab and design courses you participate in as a senior student may require you to perform additional research on construction materials, wing design, and more.
As an aspiring aeronautical engineer, you’ll also want to have a proper understanding of mathematics, theory, knowledge, and basic problem-solving skills. Eventually, you’ll be transforming flight systems and equipment into an innovative, functional design plan.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Many entry-level positions in aeronautical engineering won’t require a license, but some senior positions may require one.
The typical aeronautical engineering license to obtain is known as a Professional Engineering License (PE). Check your state requirements to see if you’ll need to apply for an additional license in aeronautical engineering.
Depending on the state in which you reside, you’ll be required to obtain a PE license for aeronautical engineering.
Graduates in states that require a PE will need to take and pass two exams and acquire four years of relevant work experience. Following that process, you should become a licensed professional engineer in your state.
And if you’re just in the initial stages of obtaining your PE license and taking exams, you can refer to yourself as an Engineer in Training (EIT) while taking the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
The Future of an Aeronautical Engineer
Fortunately, the future is looking strong for aeronautical engineers!
Not only is this role in high demand around the world, but the specialty areas for aeronautical engineers are contributing strongly to the needs of the industry. And soon in this guide, you’ll learn about the average salary of an aeronautical engineer, so you will be able to estimate the amount this role might earn you per year.
Most aeronautical engineers work for engineering services, government agencies, research and development corporations, or navigational and control instrument manufacturing. Most former aeronautical engineering students will acquire a working knowledge of aerospace materials, structures, propulsion, flight mechanics, stability, and control.
From 2020 to 2030, the rate of employment for aeronautical engineers is expected to increase by approximately eight percent. That means that more job openings are expected to be posted for aeronautical engineers each year, with a projected 4,000 new job openings per year over the next decade.
Again, there’s a growing demand for this role and relevant companies will be looking for top-tier candidates to fulfill those needs, particularly as senior-level employees retire from the workforce.
Where are Aeronautical Engineers Employed?
Most aeronautical engineers work in an office setting, but others may work in aeronautical laboratories, production hangars, or on-site workshops. Industries that hire workers to build or design the production of various aircraft typically employ aeronautical engineers.
These industries include manufacturing, analysis and design, the federal government, and research and development organizations.
Common employers of aeronautical engineers include the following:
- Airline operators
- Military operations
- Civil service
- Accredited universities
- Government agencies
- Aerospace and aero-engine operations
- Research and development organizations
Average Salary of an Aeronautical Engineer
On average, the national salary of an aeronautical and manufacturing engineer is approximately $113,030 per year. The lowest 10% typically earn less than $70,840.
In other words, aeronautical engineers can have successful careers with a wage that’s well above the national average for employees around the United States. It seems like the future is looking bright for aeronautical engineers!
Aeronautical Engineering vs. Astronautical Engineering
While it’s common to confuse these two sects of engineering, aeronautical engineering, and astronautical engineering are not the same. Whether you’re planning on studying to become an aeronautical or astronautical engineer, knowing the difference between the two studies is important.
Of course, both types of aspiring engineers will need to learn how to manufacture and operate missiles, aircraft, and spacecraft with a knowledge of basic physics. Additionally, both engineers will be working on the design, development, testing, and production of flight vehicles.
However, there are still some key differences to note between these two areas of study.
Aeronautical engineers work on the systems behind various aircraft, such as helicopters, planes, or drones. The primary markets that aeronautical engineers focus on are civilian and military.
Astronautical engineers, on the other hand, mostly work with various spacecraft, such as satellites, shuttles, and rockets. Occasionally, however, the two areas of engineering may overlap in certain subjects.
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