Aeronautical Engineer: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become an aeronautical engineer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Aeronautical Engineer?

Aeronautical engineers coordinate the design, manufacture and testing of aircraft and a variety of aviation equipment and products. They must be able to assess project proposals for financial and technical feasibility, as well as ensure safety compliance. In addition to creating acceptance criteria and quality standards, these professionals also make sure that all projects meet these quality standards, and if any malfunction occurs, inspect and identify the issues.

Aeronautical engineers may provide expertise in a particular area, such as thermodynamics or flight mechanics. Strong math and computer software skills are necessary for this career. The following chart gives you an overview about a career as an aeronautical engineer.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Aeronautical engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, aeronautics or fluid dynamics
Key Responsibilities Design aircraft and propulsion systems; evaluate and test designs to ensure that they meet specifications; ensure that operational, safety and environmental specifications are met in finished product; examine and evaluate damaged or malfunctioning components to arrive at solutions
Licensure Licensure as Professional Engineer (PE) is available
Job Growth (2014-2024)-2%*
Median Salary (2015) $107,830*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of an Aeronautical Engineer?

As an aeronautical engineer, you design aircraft, air control and propulsion systems, flight simulators, communications systems and other structures related to aviation. You also oversee development and manufacturing of such products. According to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), typical job duties may include creating prototypes and models for new aircrafts, designing test procedures, conducting tests on prototypes and modifying designs based on test results. You work with wind tunnels, computer visualization software and mathematical equations to test for performance, safety and efficacy (www.aiaa.org).

What Is the Employment Outlook?

Aerospace engineers had an estimated two percent job decline from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Due to the expected decrease in manufacturing, which employs many aeronautical engineers, job opportunities are expected to decrease. The BLS stated that aerospace engineers could increase job opportunities and may better their chances of promotions by staying current in education through taking continuing education courses. The middle half of aerospace engineers earned between $84,040 and $133,460, according to May 2015 BLS data (www.bls.gov).

What Education Do I Need?

To become an aeronautical engineer, you may consider a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, aeronautics or fluid dynamics from an accredited university. In any of these programs, you may take courses in aerodynamics, space mechanics, electrical engineering and aircraft design. A Master of Science or Ph.D. in one of these fields is required for research positions, according to the BLS. To keep abreast of the latest technological innovations, you also need to pursue continuing education opportunities, which are available through professional organizations, such as the AIAA.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Other similar careers in the engineering field include industrial engineers, materials engineers and electrical and electronics engineers. All of these professions require at least a bachelor's degree. Industrial engineers focus on reducing waste in the production process. They work to make sure that production processes are at their most efficient. Materials engineers develop and test an array of materials to make a large variety of products. These professionals study the characteristics and properties of materials to meet different requirements. Electrical and electronics engineers design and manufacture electrical equipment, such as navigation and communication systems.

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