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Aeronautical Engineer: Educational Requirements

Aeronautical engineers require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

A division of aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering focuses on applying physics, mathematics and other disciplines in order to construct aircraft. Aeronautical engineers work to make sure propulsion systems operate efficiently and that aircraft's aerodynamic performance is sufficient. Aspiring aeronautical engineers should get their bachelor's degree in aeronautical or aerospace engineering, though some related majors may be sufficient.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in aeronautical or aerospace engineering is usually required, although some employers may accept an equivalent degree in a related field
Other Requirements Professional engineering licensure required for some positions
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 7% (for all aerospace engineers)*
Median Salary (2013) $103,870 (for all aerospace engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

In order to become an aeronautical engineer, prospective candidates must complete a bachelor's degree program, usually in aerospace or aeronautical engineering. A program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be required to later earn licensure. Due to the range and breadth of classes, these programs may take 4-5 years to complete. Students typically begin their education by enrolling in core courses in mathematics, chemistry and physics. Additionally, most programs require students to complete introductory labs in which they test engineering principles applied to flight and propulsion.

Once students have completed their core requirements, they may begin taking challenging classes that cover topics ranging from aerodynamics of airplane bodies to electrical systems in cockpits. After covering the fundamentals of flight and stability control, students may delve into aircraft sensors and electrical components, as well as wing structure and flaps. Programs may also provide training in power generation for aircraft, including combustion engine design.

During the senior year of a bachelor's in aerospace or aeronautical engineering, students generally participate in lab and design courses. These courses may require research into issues ranging from construction materials to wing design. While completing their assignments, students may be responsible for simulating flight and modifying areas where designs may not function well. Applying their knowledge, students may then alter models, test designs and prepare class presentations.

Licensure Requirements

College graduates must take two examinations and accrue four years of work experience in order to become a licensed professional engineer (PE). Graduates only need to get their PE credential if they are going to work directly with the public. Graduates earn the title of engineer in training (EIT) after completing the first exam, which can be taken any time after schooling is complete. EITs may then begin on-the-job training, where they further their experience and understanding of aeronautical engineering. Once EITs have completed the required experience, they may take the second exam to become professional aeronautical engineers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for aerospace engineers were projected to increase 7% from 2012-2022, which is slower than average. As of May 2013, aerospace engineers, including aeronautical engineers, made a median annual salary of $103,870, per BLS reports.

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