Where Can A Career In Aeronautical engineering Take You?
Aeronautical engineers and researchers work in a specialised branch of engineering concerned with the design, manufacture and improvement of aeroplanes, satellites and weapons systems. It’s an area that’s constantly developing and growing with technology, and you could be at the forefront of these changes.
Across the whole sector, aeronautical engineers work with advanced technologies to improve flight safety, fuel efficiency, speed and weight. There is also a growing imperative to reduce the environmental impact of aeroplanes, so there’s lots of room for those who are creative thinkers with a passion for technology and innovation.
There are a variety of types of employer in the aeronautical sector. Within the public sector, there are positions available within the armed forces (Air Force, Army & Navy) and central government departments (the Ministry of Defence, MoD, or the Defence Engineering & Science Group, DESG). There are also aeronautical engineering positions available at regulatory bodies (e.g. the Civil Aviation Authority, CAA).
There are also numerous private sector opportunities, from major defence contractors (such as BAE Systems), to airline operators and components manufacturers.
Within Aeronautical Engineering there are a variety of specialised disciplines: Aerodynamics, Composites Analysis (understanding the properties of potential construction materials), Avionics (developing technical electronics systems for aeroplanes), Propulsion, and Structural Engineering.
Depending on which discipline an aeronautical engineer or researcher specialises within, they may find themselves analysing components in laboratories or test facilities, investigating accidents, supervising manufacturing and assembly processes for components and whole aircraft, and preparing reports for a variety of audiences – both expert and non-expert.
Aeronautical engineering Jobs
Skills & interests required
Aeronautical engineers must be passionate about aircraft, aviation and working with new technologies. They must also be highly numerate and able to analyse large data sets in detail. Analytical and problem-solving skills are essential, particularly when applied to finding innovative solutions to challenging technical problems. Experience working with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software will also be important.
Depending on the nature of your potential employer, some understanding of commercial developments within the aeronautical sector may also be required. There may also be occasions where you have to write reports for industry publications and even for public consumption.
- Computer Programming
- Data Analysis
- Graphic Design
- Problem Solving
- Technical Support
Typical Career Progression Routes for Graduates in Aeronautical engineering
Larger employers in the sector offer structured training via graduate recruitment programmes, which typically last for two years and will allow graduate engineers to gain experience across a number of types of project. Smaller employers may offer opportunities for greater hands-on responsibility with less structured training for graduate hires. Once you have completed your graduate training programme you will usually be invited to specialise within a discipline (e.g. Aerodynamics or Avionics) – the exact options available will depend on the types of product or service delivered by your employer.
Many graduate schemes are designed to support graduate engineers in attaining Chartered Engineer (CEng) status. Becoming a Chartered Engineer can be crucial to progressing your career within Aeronautical Engineering, allowing you to reach senior roles within Engineering departments. There will also be Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities to gain experience in commercial and management skills.
Tips for getting into the field
Arrange a meeting with your Careers Advisor to discuss your interest in working within the aeronautical sector and to get advice on potential employers.
Work experience can be critical in securing your place on an aeronautical engineering graduate scheme. Many degree programmes will offer the option for an industrial placement with a business in the sector.
Due to the international nature of some projects, proficiency in a foreign language can be a bonus for certain companies with significant international presence.
Types of jobs in Aeronautical engineering
Salaries for graduate engineers entering the aeronautical sector can range between £22,000 to £28,000. After completing the graduate programme, salaries will typically be between £28,000 and £40,000, rising in line with technical skills and experience.
Once you have achieved CEng status and a level of experience managing projects you can expect a salary from £45,000 to £60,000+.
Qualification requirements & subjects to study
Most graduate engineering schemes in the aeronautical sector will require at least an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering (BEng) or a related discipline (e.g. Applied Sciences, Electrical/Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science). There is a list of accredited engineering degrees available at the Engineering Council website.
Many aeronautical employers will value postgraduate qualifications highly – for example MEng or Ph.D degrees.