What Is Aeronautical Engineering?

Aeronautical engineers design and manufacture aircraft, like helicopters, gliders and airplanes. If testing an aircraft's wing structure or programming its flight control systems sounds like an interesting job description, keep reading to find out more. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Aeronautical Engineering Defined

Aeronautical engineering is part of the larger field of aerospace engineering, which also includes astronautical engineering. Astronautical engineers design spacecraft and satellites, while aeronautical engineers are concerned with designing and developing an aircraft's control systems, structures, propulsion systems and aerodynamics.

Important Facts About Aeronautical Engineering

Degrees Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D. in aeronautical or aerospace engineering
Similar Occupations Computer Hardware Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering
Work Environment Offices at research institutions, government organizations, or manufacturing businesses
Entry-level Education Bachelor's Degree

Undergraduate Degrees

Undergraduate degrees are available as aeronautical, aerospace or astronautical engineering bachelor's degree programs. The programs often begin with introductory coursework in calculus and physics. In advanced courses, students study subjects including flight dynamics, space mechanics, aero-mechanical design and aerospace structures.

Graduate Degrees

If you pursue an aerospace engineering master's degree program, you typically take about 30 credit hours of advanced courses in topics like fluid dynamics, electromechanics and aerothermodynamics. Some programs may allow you to focus on a specialty area, such as flight mechanics or structural dynamics. If you pursue a Doctor of Philosophy, you may spend most of your time conducting research for your dissertation, in addition to completing upper-level coursework.

Career Opportunities

As an aeronautical engineer, you can work for defense systems contractors, aerospace manufacturing companies and government agencies, like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The BLS states that employment opportunities for aerospace engineers are expected to grow at a rate of seven percent in the 2012-2022 decade. This is due to many jobs being in the manufacturing industry, which is growing slowly overall. Aerospace engineers who have skills in robotics, modeling and simulation technologies and who know how to use the software program Computational Fluid Dynamics may stand out in the job market. Also listed by the BLS, aerospace engineers earned a median annual wage of $105,380 in 2015.

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