What Is the Difference Between Aviation and Aeronautics?

Aviation and aeronautics are both fields that deal with flying and aircraft. A number of training programs are offered in each field. Read on to learn what the differences are between the two fields and what career and education opportunities are available. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is the Difference Between Aviation and Aeronautics?

Aviation and aeronautics both have their basis in flight science and engineering. Depending on your end goal, one field may be better suited than the other. Both are explored in more detail in the following sections.

Important Facts About These Careers

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Technicians Aerospace Engineers
Median Salary (2014) $56,980 $105,380
Key Skills Trouble-shooting, detail oriented, dexterity, observational Problem-solving, math, critical-thinking, analytical
Similar Occupations Electro-mechanical technician, network systems administrator, automotive service technician Industrial engineer, mechanical engineer, architectural/engineering manager
Work Environment Usually in a hangar, repair station, or airfield, commonly under a strict deadline Usually in an office working with software design tools

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Aviation

Aviation includes engineering, but it's also an industry with many different job opportunities. In just over a century, aviation has changed the way that the world travels. The history of aviation did not begin with the Wright brothers, but their successful flight in 1903 in the first heavier-than-air ship was the start of a revolution. Airports are in every large city and in many small towns. Airlines schedule flights to cities and towns in America, as well as around the world.

Students majoring in aviation can train to be pilots or navigators. Aviation management programs teach you the basics of airport operations that include applications such as aviation law, security issues, aircraft design and weather issues. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal agencies, such as the armed forces, are venues for you to study to become an air traffic controller.

Technical schools and community colleges offer programs that can train you to work in the aviation industry as mechanics, technicians and in the service end of the business in jobs such as flight attendant, service desk person, ticket agent or other personnel.

Aeronautics

Aeronautics is generally taught as a subset or concentration in aerospace engineering. Aeronautic engineers focus on the details of manned flight. You would work on applications such as manipulating an aircraft's design to be more aerodynamic and efficient, estimating an aircraft's propulsion needs and testing and analyzing these designs.

Aeronautic engineering majors initially focus on mathematical and engineering principles. Some advanced courses such as flight theory, air traffic control, aviation law and security are similar to aviation majors. But you will also learn about aerospace propulsion, thermodynamics and flight dynamics.

Aeronautic or aerospace engineers can work for government agencies, such as the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), as flight engineers, designers and members of mission control. Aircraft or weapon manufacturers also hire aeronautic engineers to design airplanes, helicopters, spacecraft, rockets, guidance systems and other defense systems.

Job Opportunities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diminishing funding for NASA will result in fewer job opportunities. But other industries such as commercial and military aircraft manufacturing should continue to provide opportunities for new aeronautic engineers. However, the aviation and aeronautics fields are generally expected to decline between 2014 and 2024, with limited growth in job opportunities. For example, according to the BLS, air traffic controllers are expected to see a 9% decline in that time period, with a projected loss of approximately 2,100 jobs. Aerospace engineers, including aeronautic engineers, are predicted to see a 2% decline in job positions.

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