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Aerospace engineer Aeronautical engineer

Aerospace engineers design, build and maintain planes, spacecraft and satellites.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need an HNC, HND, foundation degree, or degree in aerospace engineering, avionics, or a related subject, like:

  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • manufacturing or product engineering
  • physics or applied physics
  • software engineering or mathematics

The Association of Aerospace Universities has more information about courses.

You could also start as an aerospace engineering technician apprentice with an airline operator, airline manufacturer or engineering company. You'dthen continue your training up to degree level.

You'll usually start on a company's training scheme, and work towards your engineering licence, known as a Part 66, and issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). With a license, you can work as a qualified engineer.

Careers in Aerospace has information on careers in aerospace engineering.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent maths ability
  • problem solving skills
  • IT skills including computer aided design or manufacturing (CAD or CAM)
  • project management and budgeting skills
  • technical skills

3. What you'll do

You'll research, develop, build and maintain aircraft or their systems. Your day-to-day duties will depend on your role but may include:

  • developing navigation, communications or weapons systems
  • researching ways to make fuel-efficient parts, such as wings, fuselage and engines
  • using CAD software for design
  • testing prototypes
  • collecting and analysing test data
  • planning and supervising the fitting of aircraft and components
  • signing off projects under strict industry regulations
  • scheduling and supervising maintenance

You may also have to estimate project costs and timescales, write technical reports and manuals, and give presentations.

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £26,000

Experienced: £28,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £45,000 to £60,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week in an office or factory. You may travel to inspect or test aircraft at different sites.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in a particular field like:

  • aerodynamics
  • fuel efficiency
  • space technology
  • investigating air accidents

You could also move up to become a project manager or consultant aerospace engineer.

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Last updated: 07 December 2016