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Become An Aircraft Engineer

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Working As An Aircraft Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $87,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Aircraft Engineer Do

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Duties

Aerospace engineers typically do the following:

  • Direct and coordinate the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
  • Assess proposals for projects to determine if they are technically and financially feasible
  • Determine if proposed projects will result in safe aircraft and parts
  • Evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental challenges
  • Develop acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, sustainment after delivery, and completion dates
  • Ensure that projects meet quality standards
  • Inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions

Aerospace engineers may develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft. They often specialize in areas such as aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation, and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; and propulsion and combustion.

Aerospace engineers can specialize in designing different types of aerospace products, such as commercial and military airplanes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, including launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets.

Aerospace engineers often become experts in one or more related fields: aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.

Aerospace engineers typically specialize in one of two types of engineering: aeronautical or astronautical.

Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. They work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the earth’s atmosphere.

Astronautical engineers work with the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Aeronautical and astronautical engineers face different environmental and operational issues in designing aircraft and spacecraft. However, the two fields overlap a great deal because they both depend on the basic principles of physics.

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How To Become An Aircraft Engineer

Aerospace engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another field of engineering or science related to aerospace systems. Aerospace engineers who work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearances.

Education

Entry-level aerospace engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree. High school students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take courses in chemistry, physics, and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Bachelor’s degree programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in subjects such as general engineering principles, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics, and aerodynamics, which is the study of how air interacts with moving objects.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in partnership with regional businesses, which give students practical experience while they complete their education. Cooperative programs and internships enable students to gain valuable experience and to finance part of their education.

At some universities, a student can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree upon completion. A graduate degree will allow an engineer to work as an instructor at a university or to do research and development. Programs in aerospace engineering are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to identify design elements that may not meet requirements and then must formulate alternatives to improve the performance of those elements.

Business skills. Much of the work done by aerospace engineers involves meeting federal government standards. Meeting these standards often requires knowledge of standard business practices, as well as knowledge of commercial law.

Critical-thinking skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to translate a set of issues into requirements and to figure out why a particular design does not work. They must be able to ask the right question, then find an acceptable answer.

Math skills. Aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Aerospace engineers use their education and experience to upgrade designs and troubleshoot problems when meeting new demands for aircraft, such as increased fuel efficiency or improved safety.

Writing skills. Aerospace engineers must be able both to write papers that explain their designs clearly and to create documentation for future reference.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an aerospace engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Advancement

Eventually, aerospace engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may even become engineering managers or move into executive positions, such as program managers.

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Aircraft Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

77.3%

Unknown

14.2%

Female

8.5%
Ethnicity

White

60.3%

Hispanic or Latino

12.8%

Black or African American

11.3%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

7.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Russian

25.0%

Portuguese

25.0%

Ukrainian

25.0%

Spanish

25.0%
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Aircraft Engineer Education

Schools

The Academy

17.1%

Cochise College

7.3%

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

7.3%

Boston University

4.9%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

4.9%

Wichita State University

4.9%

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

4.9%

University of Texas at El Paso

4.9%

University of Phoenix

4.9%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Purdue University

4.9%

Daymar College - Owensboro

4.9%

Florida Atlantic University

4.9%

Stevens Institute of Technology

4.9%

Rose State College

2.4%

University of Nevada - Reno

2.4%

City University of Seattle

2.4%

University of the West

2.4%

North Carolina State University

2.4%

Arizona State University

2.4%
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Majors

Aerospace Engineering

14.4%

Mechanical Engineering

12.9%

Electrical Engineering

12.9%

Aviation

11.4%

Business

9.8%

Automotive Technology

7.6%

Engineering

5.3%

Management

3.8%

Manufacturing Engineering

2.3%

Computer Information Systems

2.3%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.3%

Accounting

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Systems Engineering

1.5%

Management Information Systems

1.5%

Psychology

1.5%

Finance

1.5%

Computer Engineering

1.5%

Project Management

1.5%

Law

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

31.6%

Other

25.1%

Masters

22.8%

Associate

6.4%

Diploma

5.8%

Certificate

4.7%

Doctorate

2.9%

License

0.6%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$87,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$59,000
Min 10%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$129,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Garmin
Highest Paying City
Everett, WA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
5.3 years
How much does an Aircraft Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Aircraft Engineer in the United States is $87,574 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $59,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $129,000.

Real Aircraft Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Aircraft Retrofit & Repair Engineer CTS Technical Services, Inc. Long Beach, CA Apr 01, 2015 $121,150
Aircraft Interior Arrangements Engineer Learjet Inc. Wichita, KS Mar 24, 2016 $108,909
Aircraft Engineer Maas Aviation Brookley, Inc. Mobile, AL Sep 17, 2016 $80,000
Aircraft Delivery Engineer Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. Little Rock, AR Aug 20, 2016 $78,000
Aircraft Delivery Engineer Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. Little Rock, AR Aug 16, 2015 $77,483
Aircraft Delivery Engineer Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. Little Rock, AR Sep 16, 2014 $75,373
Aircraft Technologies Engineer (II) St. Aerospace Mobile Inc. Mobile, AL Feb 01, 2013 $74,400
Aircraft Engineer Draken International, Inc. Lakeland, FL Sep 24, 2013 $65,957
Aircraft Engineer Draken International, Inc. Lakeland, FL Sep 20, 2013 $65,957
Aircraft Technologies Engineer Vt Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. Mobile, AL Jan 09, 2016 $65,250
Aircraft Technologies Engineer Vt Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. Mobile, AL Aug 09, 2016 $65,250
Aircraft Technologies Engineer Vt Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. Mobile, AL Aug 15, 2015 $65,250
Aircraft Engineer Maas Aviation Brookley, Inc. Mobile, AL Sep 17, 2016 $65,000
Aircraft Powerplant Engineers Allegiant Travel Company D/B/A Allegiant Air Las Vegas, NV Dec 23, 2015 $65,000
Aircraft Technologies Engineer The MEC Group LLC Everett, WA Oct 15, 2015 $60,523
Aircraft Technologies Engineer The MEC Group LLC Everett, WA Jul 15, 2015 $60,523
Aircraft Interiors Engineer Allegiant Travel Company Las Vegas, NV Nov 21, 2016 $60,299
Aircraft Engineer Better Aviation Products, Inc. Coral Springs, FL Sep 17, 2016 $60,043
Aircraft Technologies Engineer Vt Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. Mobile, AL Aug 09, 2016 $60,000
Aircraft Engineer Us Airways, Inc. Charlotte, NC Aug 26, 2015 $59,384 -
$92,774
Aircraft Technologies Engineer Vt San Antonio Aerospace Inc. San Antonio, TX Nov 15, 2016 $56,000
Aircraft Technologies Engineer Vt San Antonio Aerospace Inc. San Antonio, TX Jan 01, 2016 $55,500

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Top Skills for An Aircraft Engineer

  1. Service Aircraft
  2. Federal Aviation Administration
  3. Structural Repairs
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Complied with all Federal Aviation Administration and General Electric regulations.
  • Monitor Damage Tolerance Analysis results and requirements for structural repairs.
  • Performed Component Removal/Installation on Engine and Airframe as per Aircraft Maintenance Manual.
  • Work with aircraft engine parts turbine blades
  • Updated filing systems and created CAD drawings.

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Top 10 Best States for Aircraft Engineers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Virginia
  3. Maryland
  4. Alabama
  5. California
  6. Hawaii
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Texas
  9. Louisiana
  10. Georgia
  • (146 jobs)
  • (677 jobs)
  • (312 jobs)
  • (145 jobs)
  • (1,778 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (309 jobs)
  • (757 jobs)
  • (67 jobs)
  • (314 jobs)

Top Aircraft Engineer Employers

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