Aeronautical Engineer Job Description

Aeronautical engineers design and test products for aircrafts, spacecrafts, satellites, and missiles. This involves tasks such as creating and testing prototypes, developing criteria for design methods, checking proposals, and coordinating teams from design to manufacturing. Aeronautical engineers spend most of their time in an office-based environment, using software design tools and simulation software for testing and training. This is a full-time job and often requires additional hours to work on larger projects, monitor progress, and ensure that the designs meet the necessary requirements. This job is well suited to people who communicate well, can manage their time effectively and work on multiple projects at once, who enjoy working as part of a team towards shared goals, and have good problem-solving skills.


Aeronautical Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Aeronautical engineers carry out a range of duties depending on the organization they work for. Based on job listings we analyzed, an aeronautical engineer’s responsibilities typically involve:

Coordinating the Design and Testing of Aircraft Products

Aeronautical engineers coordinate and direct the design and manufacture of aircraft and aerospace products, making sure that they’re tested properly and meet the necessary regulatory standards.

Checking if Proposed Plans Meet Regulations

Regulations and safety standards are critical to aircraft manufacturing, so aeronautical engineers must determine if proposed projects will result in a safe operation as well as meet the goals outlined beforehand. This means checking that they meet engineering principles, the requirements of the customer, and environmental regulations.

Developing Acceptance Criteria for Methods

Aeronautical engineers develop the criteria for design methods, completion dates, and quality standards that all projects work to adhere to for consistency and safety.

Inspecting Damaged Products

Aeronautical engineers check malfunctioning or damaged products to identify where the fault lies and develop an appropriate solution. This requires applying engineering knowledge to the task and maintaining continuous education of the subject, in order to stay up to date with the latest technology and trends.

Assessing Proposals

Aeronautical engineers assess proposals for different projects to determine if they are feasible, both on a technical level and also financially.


Aeronautical Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Aeronautical engineers should have excellent analytical skills, strong writing skills to create reports and documentation, and good business acumen. Typically, employers will require a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, as well as the following abilities:

  • Analytical skills – aeronautical engineers must identify design elements which may not meet the requirements of the project, and find alternatives that are better suited, so analytical skills are vital to this position
  • Math skills – this job requires the ability to use calculus, trigonometry, and advanced math theories and formulas, so aeronautical engineers need to have great knowledge of these principles
  • Problem-solving abilities – aeronautical engineers use their knowledge to troubleshoot problems to improve efficiency and safety of the aircraft, as well as resolving issues which may have been previously overlooked
  • Business knowledge – aeronautical engineers often carry out work which meets federal government standards, so applicants for this job need to have knowledge of standard business practices and commercial law in order to meet these requirements
  • Critical thinking – aeronautical engineers need to be able to develop designs which meet governmental standards and work out how and why certain designs may not work, which requires critical thinking skills


Aeronautical Engineer Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become an aeronautical engineer is a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, with classes taken in chemistry, physics, advanced math, and computer programming or computer languages. Bachelor’s programs should include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in subjects such as propulsion, stability, and mechanics, as well as aerodynamics, which studies how air interacts with moving objects. Some colleges provide the option for students to enroll in a 5-year program, which combines a bachelor’s and master’s degree.


Aeronautical Engineer Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for aeronautical engineers is nearly $113,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Aeronautical engineers in the 10th percentile earn around $71,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $162,000 a year. The higher end of the pay scale for this job sees bonuses of up to $20,000, and profit sharing opportunities which can reach as much as $50,000.

Location and specific employer impact the pay level for this role, and over 70 percent of employers offer dental plans, while 90 percent provide medical insurance as part of their benefits package. The BLS predicts that the growth rate for this sector is expected to grow by six percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn how to develop a career as an aeronautical engineer.

The Engineer – this blog provides the latest aerospace engineering information, technology updates, and business news. It’s a great way to stay up to date with developments in this sector, particularly for those new to the industry.

Aeronautical Engineer – With over 2,600 members, this LinkedIn group is perfectly suited to people who are looking to network with other professionals, share market information, and discuss ideas with others in the industry.

Aircraft Structures – A brilliant reference guide to aircraft structures and structural theory, this book covers the elementary principles of mechanics, materials and construction, inertia forces, and much more.

Fundamentals of Aerospace Engineering: An introductory course to aeronautical engineering – this book covers the aircraft, air transportation, airports, and air navigation, for a comprehensive view of this subject. Those new to aeronautical engineering will find this an incredibly useful guide.


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