Aerospace engineer

Aeronautical engineer

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

Salary range: £20,000 to £60,000

How to become an aerospace engineer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

University

You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma 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

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths

More information

College

You can do a higher national certificate (HNC) or diploma (HND) in engineering before applying for a job with an aerospace company. Subjects include:

  • Level 4 HNC Diploma in Mechanical Engineering
  • Level 5 HND Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering
  • Level 5 HND Diploma in Electrical Engineering

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course

More information

Apprenticeship

You can do a degree apprenticeship as an aerospace engineer. 

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More information

Work

You can join a company as an engineering technician and do training on the job to qualify as an engineer.

Direct application

You can apply for jobs directly if you’ve got qualifications and experience, for example from working in electrical or electronics engineering.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about careers in aerospace engineering from Careers in Aerospace.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • science skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work in an aircraft hangar, on an aircraft, at a client’s business, in a factory or in an office.

Your working environment may be cramped.

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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