What Is the Average Salary for an Aeronautical Science Major?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in aeronautical science. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and education requirement information. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Career Options for Aeronautical Science Graduates?

There are many careers within the field of aeronautical science, including engineers, pilots and air traffic controllers. Aerospace engineers are in charge of coordinating the design process of aircraft and aircraft components. They take design proposals and evaluate them to ensure they are technically and economically feasible. They also assess designs to determine if they are safe and meet engineering principles, customer requirements and environmental regulations. When aircraft malfunctions occur, they are often tasked with examining equipment, determining what caused the malfunction and then to develop solutions.

Commercial pilots use cockpit instruments and visual references to fly planes along predetermine paths to deliver passengers and goods to their destination. This involves monitoring flight conditions and adjusting to changes in conditions. They often communicate with air traffic controllers for updates to flight plans, weather conditions, and take-off and landing instructions. Prior to a flight, they must conduct aircraft inspections to ensure the plane is ready to fly.

Air traffic controllers monitor aircraft movement both in the air and on the ground. They communicate with pilots to issue landing instructions, take off instructions and weather reports. In emergency events, they serve as the liaison between aircraft crew and ground crew.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering the field of aeronautics.

Aerospace Engineer Commercial Pilot Air Traffic Controller
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Associate's degree
Training Required N/A Moderate-term on-the-job training long-term on-the-job training
Licensure Required PE (Professional Engineer) license is common for career advancement FAA commercial pilot license and Airline Transport Pilot certificate required Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) -2%* 10%* -9%*
Median Salary (2015) $107,830* $76,150* $122,950*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Can I Do With a Degree in Aeronautical Science?

Careers in aeronautical science typically fall into either the engineering or aviation categories. If you're interested in designing airplanes, spacecraft and defense missiles, aeronautical engineering could be for you. Your options in this profession include researching and developing flexible space suits, new jet fuels, space-centered communication systems or 'smart' weapons for the military. You could even branch into the field of biomedicine, working with nano-materials to develop limb and joint prosthetics. As an aeronautical engineer, you could find work in private industry, government or the military.

If your drawn to aviation, you could become a pilot, flight engineer, aircraft technician or air traffic controller. Like aeronautical engineers, you might work in the private or public sector or in the military. You might even consider entering the space program to become an astronaut.

What Kind of Education Do I Need?

The two main educational tracks for an aeronautical science major are engineering and flying. Both focus heavily on sciences, including physics, math, aero- and fluid dynamics, chemistry and engineering. Aeronautical engineering majors also focus on aircraft design, creation of clean and efficient propulsion systems and how to stabilize and control both machines and equipment. You might study special interest topics, such as the debris orbiting the Earth, 'smart' materials, acoustics or renewable energy.

If you want to be a pilot, you'd still get there by getting an aeronautical science degree. In addition to courses in math, physics and engineering, you'd study aircraft construction, operation technology, propulsion, fuel and control systems. Air safety regulations and laws, meteorology, navigation and physiology are vital to the career of a pilot, and you'd receive flight training through simulators and actual aircraft. Since you'll need to be licensed to become a pilot, ensure your school is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Once you're working in the aviation field, continuing education is essential due to the rapidly advancing technology.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual wage for aerospace engineers, including aeronautical engineers, was $107,830 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS noted that the field of aerospace product and parts manufacturing employed the highest number of aerospace engineers.

In aviation, salaries vary with the type of job you hold. According to 2015 BLS salary data, commercial pilots earned a median salary of $76,150. Within the same period, air traffic controllers made a median of $122,950 per year.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to the need of commercial pilots to fly planes, operators of water transportation vessels are needed to pilot boats or ships in the water transportation industry. These workers navigate their vessels through large bodies of water and rivers. Education requirements in this career depends on the specifics of the job. For example, pilots may only need a high school diploma or equivalent, while deck officers typically require a bachelor's degree. Another possible career is as a public safety telecommunicator, a similar job to an air traffic controller. They dispatch emergency services such as fire departments, police departments and ambulance services. The education requirements for an entry-level position is typically a high school diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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