How to Become an Aeronautical Engineer


If you want to become an aeronautical engineer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for working in this field:


Those who become aeronautical engineers are typically individuals who are detail-oriented, have a high degree of mental focus and discipline, and they have a natural aptitude in physics, mathematics and technology. They are individuals that have a keen academic interest in aviation, aircraft and flight technology; they tend to read over and above what is taught in the classroom. 


You will also need the emotional and intellectual capacity to complete all of the necessary academic work. High stress tolerance is also required to cope with new demands and solve new problems. In order to succeed in a career as an aeronautical engineer, you must be able to visualize complex processes, and you must be very precise in your work activities and when you perform calculations.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an aeronautical engineer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education You'll Need

Employers typically prefer to hire entry-level aeronautical engineers with a degree in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. They may however, also hire candidates who have a degree in one of the following fields:


• Mechanical engineering

• Physics/applied physics

• Electrical and electronic engineering

• Computer science

• Computer engineering

• Software engineering

• Mathematics


Success Tip: Although candidates may be hired for entry-level positions without a degree in engineering, they will likely need to obtain one if they wish to advance to positions of greater responsibility, depending on the set of responsibilities that come with that position. 





What is an Aeronautical Engineer?

Aeronautical engineers are aerospace engineers that are responsible for researching, designing, developing, maintaining, testing and evaluating the performance of aircraft that stays within the earth's atmosphere, including both civil and military aircraft and weapons systems. Working on the components for these aircraft and systems is also the responsibility of an aeronautical engineer. 


The primary responsibility of most aeronautical engineers is to improve flight safety, fuel efficiency, speed and weight, as well as reducing system costs and addressing the environmental impact of air travel, or of the products and components they are developing.



General Job Description 

The job description of an aeronautical engineer can vary, based on the products, components or systems they are working on, and what their level of responsibility is. Many aeronautical engineers specialize in a particular area, such as propulsion, avionics, systems integration, aerodynamics or materials and structures. Within these specializations, aeronautical engineers may work in a wide variety of roles, including research, design, development, testing, manufacture and maintenance. 



Common Duties Involved

• Apply engineering and mathematical principles to create aircraft, components and support equipment

• Research and develop design specifications

• Coordinate in flight test programs to measure take-off distances, rate of climb, stall speeds, maneuverability and landing capacities

• May be involved in project management

• Confer with colleagues, suppliers, clients and managers to formulate budgets, schedules and other details of a project

• Use computer aided design software to design and develop plans

• Resolve any issues that occur during the design, development and testing phases

• Undertake systematic manufacturing, involving the assembly and modification of components



Who Creates Jobs for Aeronautical Engineers?

Aeronautical engineers are hired by organizations involved in developing technology, components and products for the aerospace industry. Organizations that hire aeronautical engineers include:


• The armed forces

• Colleges and universities

• Aviation regulation organizations

• Airline operators

• Engineering consulting companies

• Public and private research organizations

• Companies that design and manufacture aircraft and aircraft components

• Companies that manufacture missile systems

• Companies that manufacture navigational, measuring, electro-medical, and control instruments 





Licensing for Aeronautical Engineers

Although licensing requirements can vary by region and by employer, aeronautical engineers are generally required to be licensed as professional engineers. Those who become licensed carry the designation of professional engineer (PE). To be licensed as a professional engineer, you generally need to meet the following requirements:


• A degree from an accredited engineering program

• A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam

• Relevant work experience

• A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam



Skills and Traits Needed

In order to become an effective aeronautical engineer, you need to posses a certain set of skills, as well as a certain set of personality traits. These skills and traits will not only allow you to perform your job duties with competence; they will allow you to overcome the challenges of this career.


• A keen academic interest in aviation, aircraft and flight technology

• A natural aptitude, and education in, math and physics

• High tolerance for stress

• Able to cope with new work demands

• Ability to visualize complex processes

• Persistence, dedication and patience towards work activities

• Able to work with extreme accuracy and attention to detail

• Willing to stay abreast of developments in the field

• Enjoy being a part of technological innovation



How Much Do Aeronautical Engineers Earn?

The salary level of aeronautical engineers can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, where they work, the specific responsibilities of their jobs, and many others.


Aeronautical Engineer Salary - Canada (Alberta): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group earn an average of between $37.34 and $45.16 per hour. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for the rest of Canada.


Aeronautical Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group is $97,480 per year. 



Aeronautical Engineering Jobs

Our job board below has "Aeronautical Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.





Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Aeronautical Engineer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Aerodynamics Engineer

Aerospace Engineer

Automotive Engineer

Mechanical Engineer



References for This Career Guide

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an Aeronautical Engineer.


Occupations in Alberta:Aerospace Engineer.” (March 14, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Architecture and Engineering:Aerospace Engineers.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Job Profile:Aerospace Engineers.” AGCAS editors (January, 2018). Prospects website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Job Descriptions:Aeronautical Engineer: Job Description.” (n.d.). website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.




Scholarships for Relevant Fields of Study

Scholarships listed for fields of study that are relevant for becoming an Aeronautical Engineer can be found on our Electrical Engineering Scholarships, Mechanical Engineering Scholarships and Physics Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an Aeronautical Engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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