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Aeronautical Science Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in aeronautical science. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and certification information.

What is an Aeronautical Scientist?

In the field of aeronautical science, you will work with aircraft in their various forms depending on the field you choose to pursue. You could be a commercial pilot, an aircraft designer/aerospace engineer, or work in engineering management along with several other career options. As a pilot, you will transport both people and cargo safety between airports while communicating with air traffic control. Aircraft designers are involved in creating and designing various avionics equipment. As an engineering manager, you will direct and oversee engineering projects. Regardless of your choice, you will likely need to possess a general interest in avionics. Take a look at the table below for some highlights of these career choices.

Commercial Pilot Aircraft Designer Engineering Manager
Degree Required Bachelor's Bachelor's Bachelor's, possible MBA
Education Field of Study Aeronautical science, flight science, aviation Aerospace engineering, aeronautics Engineering management, business
Licensure Required Pilot License through the FAA Professional Engineering (PE) license for aerospace engineers N/A
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% growth* 2% growth (for all aerospace engineers)* 3% growth*
Average Salary (2018) $96,530* $117,100* (for all aerospace engineers)* $148,970*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Are Available in Aeronautical Science?

Aeronautical science is a field that encompasses a wide range of careers from aviation to aircraft design and aviation management. If you're interested in flying, you could become a pilot for a commercial airline, a private corporation or the military. As a pilot, you could transport passengers and goods on large and small aircraft, or support military operations in a branch of the armed services.

Another career option is to be an aircraft designer or technician. As a designer, you could envision and develop components of an aircraft; as a technician, you would be responsible for installing the systems. You might also consider a career as an aeronautical, aerospace or mechanical engineer. You could design aircraft engines and parts, navigation and flight simulation software and more.

As an air traffic controller, you would communicate with pilots and copilots, ensuring that an aircraft takes off and lands safely and stays on course with its destination. You could redirect flights or warn pilots about weather systems and oncoming aircraft. In a management position, you could oversee the operations of an aircraft control tower.

Management jobs in aeronautical science span from jobs working at airports to jobs overseeing the maintenance of aircraft. You could work as an airport manager or as a supervisor at an aircraft manufacturing plant. On the corporate side, you would be involved in marketing, strategic management, sales or public relations.

What Education Do I Need?

If you want to be a pilot, you could enroll in a bachelor's degree program in aeronautical science, flight science or aviation. Much of your instruction will be in the classroom, but you'll also begin your pilot training in a flight simulator. You'll eventually fly with instructors and pilot an aircraft on your own.

Engineering requires a different educational track. If this is your area of interest you could earn a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or aeronautics. In the field of air traffic control, you could get a bachelor's degree in aeronautical science or related field. You could also enroll in the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program, which is a partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and participating colleges and universities (www.faa.gov).

If management is your goal, you might consider a bachelor's degree program with a major in aviation management or business. An upper-management position might require you to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in an area like aviation management, marketing, finance or engineering.

What Certifications Do I Need?

In order to be a pilot, you'll need to get licensed through the FAA. This process involves having up to 1,500 hours of documented flight experience and passing physical examinations. Although aerospace engineers are not required to hold a license, mechanical engineers are required to obtain Professional Engineer (PE) licensure, which can be achieved by working for two years as an engineer intern (EI) and passing proficiency exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (www.ncees.org).

To be an air traffic controller for the FAA, you'll need to be under 31 years old, a U.S. citizen and have three years of work experience or a bachelor's degree. You'll also have to take a pre-employment test and pass medical and criminal investigations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Depending on what your interests are, there are a number of alternative career paths that would require a similar educational background. You may be interested in pursuing a career as an avionics and aircraft equipment mechanic or technician. These professionals work to repair and maintain avionics equipment. You may also choose a career as an aerospace engineer, which involves designing avionics and space equipment.