Career Information for Aeronautical Scientists
Aeronautical science is the science of flight, and this field relates to careers involved with the design and development of aircraft. Aeronautical engineers study how flight may be achieved within the earth's atmosphere and use that knowledge to pilot or design airplanes. While not all piloting jobs require students to graduate with aeronautical science degrees, the credential is a definite advantage.
For those who do not wish to work as pilots, an aeronautical science degree can lead to a career in the design, construction or maintenance side of the industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aeronautical engineers design both aircraft and propulsion systems, keeping in mind the aerodynamic performance of the construction materials used in creating aircraft.
|Education||Associate's in applied science, bachelor's in science, master's and doctorate degrees in science and engineering; pilots are required to take flying lessons and earn a license before graduation|
|Job Skills||Teamwork, multitasking, communication, concentration in difficult situations, critical thinking|
|Median Salary 2015*||$102,510 (for airline and commercial pilots), $107,830 (for aerospace engineers)|
|Career Outlook 2014-2024*||5% (for airline and commercial pilots), -2% (for aerospace engineers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Only a select few schools offer aeronautical science degree programs. Degrees in the field include an associate of applied science, a bachelor of science, and master's and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. Classes in aeronautical science programs focus on math, physics and computer science. Because many individuals who complete aeronautical science programs choose to pursue careers as pilots, many programs also require students to take flying lessons in order to earn a pilot's license before they graduate.
The BLS reports that aeronautical science professionals need the following traits:
- Ability to multitask and handle stress well
- Extreme concentration if working as a pilot
- Understanding of basic physics, the dynamics of flight and a solid background in computers
- Solid verbal communication skills, since both pilots and individuals on the mechanical side of the industry must clearly convey important information
- Strong math, critical thinking and record-keeping skills
- Ability to work in a team
Employment and Salary Outlook
The BLS reports that 119,200 civilian jobs existed for pilots in 2014, which translates to an expected job growth of 5% from 2014-2024. The BLS also reports that 72,500 aerospace engineering jobs, including aeronautical engineering positions, existed in 2014, and a 2% job decline is expected in this segment over the same decade. As of May 2015, the median salary for airline and commercial pilots was $102,510, per the BLS. The same source indicated that aerospace engineers earned a median annual salary of $107,830 in May 2015.