How to Become an Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers are involved in the vast array of tasks which go towards producing aircraft, missiles and space vehicles. Amongst the different job roles, include things like design, maintenance, manufacture and project management.
If you are interested in becoming an Aerospace Engineer (Aeronautical Engineer), in an engineering based career at the forefront of technological advancement then you will need a strong knowledge and some experience in the following areas:
- Fluid mechanics
- Control Engineering
- Flight test
- Aircraft structures
- Material science
To forge a career in aerospace engineering, you will also need to develop skills in subjects such as physics or science technology. You’ll also need to develop problem-solving skills and a logical approach to dealing with engineering challenges.
Aerospace Engineering Job Description
As an aerospace engineer you could be doing the following:
- Using CAD to design new aircraft, missiles, spacecraft and other technologies
- Researching new methods for the production of products
- Testing prototypes of new products and analysing results data
- Undertaking assessments of new products for safety criteria and ensuring new products are viable
- Involved in the assembly of new products or supervising construction teams
- Managing projects to ensure they meet budgetary requirements and deadlines
- Undertaking materials analysis for new products
- Planning, supervising and undertaking a variety of aircraft maintenance activities
Aerospace Engineering Qualifications and Entry Requirements
From a qualifications point of view, there are different options available to get into aerospace engineering.
For those interested in going through the education route there are many aeronautical and aerospace engineering degrees available across the UK. What’s more many employers may consider candidates who have come from a variety of other degree backgrounds which could include subjects such as Physics, Maths, Software Engineering, Mechanical or Electrical Engineering.
Across the different regions of the UK vocational routes may be available in the aerospace engineering sector to undertake an apprenticeship and later an advanced level apprenticeship. To find out more on this visit your local further education (FE) college.
As your career advances employees can also seek to improve their qualification base with registration to organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority and their training programmes or the Engineering Council to become a Chartered Engineer.
7 Skills required for an Aerospace Engineer Job
To have a successful career in the aerospace engineering sector seven skills which will support your development include:
- Problem-solving skills
- Mathematical skills
- Project management skills such as time management and financial awareness
- Technical knowledge and commitment to continuous learning
- Strong use of CAD and CAM software as well as IT awareness
- Communication and teamworking skills
- Skills in planning and prioritising tasks
Engineering Working Hours and Conditions
Typical working weeks would be around 37 to 40 hours per week but if project deadlines approach expect that you may have to put in some overtime or be on standby.
Job roles can be based in environments that include offices, factories, production settings or in hangars on aircraft maintenance.
The UK currently has a high demand for engineers so conditions may be favourable, particularly for the highly qualified. Furthermore, for anyone in the sector who may have other linguistic capabilities, frequent travel and opportunities abroad may present themselves during your career.
Aerospace Engineering Salary
For graduate level entrants salaries can typically start from £20k and rise to £30k dependent on the company and location.
Once established as an engineer within a company pay can move up to the £40k region and once into managerial roles salaries can then jump up to around the £45k to £60k mark.
Do note that the salaries referenced above act as a guideline.
Aerospace Companies and Locations
The UK is looking to grow its aerospace capabilities significantly over the next few years following the news of plans to build a UK based spaceport. The rise in private companies such as Virgin Galactic and Xcor who are working on space-planes mean more job opportunities may become available.
Companies such as Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems have long traditional links to the employment of the workforce in aerospace engineering. Across the UK, particularly in areas close to the large aviation manufacturing companies and sites such as airports, there is a supply chain of smaller aerospace engineering focussed SMEs, which make up a significant part of the supply chain for the larger companies.