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Become An Avionics Systems Engineer

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Working As An Avionics Systems Engineer

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

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $92,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Avionics Systems 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 Avionics Systems 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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Avionics Systems Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.5%

Female

8.5%

Unknown

6.1%
Ethnicity

White

58.1%

Asian

12.9%

Hispanic or Latino

12.7%

Black or African American

11.3%

Unknown

5.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Portuguese

25.0%

Urdu

12.5%

Vietnamese

12.5%
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Avionics Systems Engineer Education

Schools

Community College of the Air Force

8.9%

American InterContinental University

8.9%

George Mason University

8.9%

George Washington University

7.1%

Arizona State University

5.4%

Southern Methodist University

5.4%

University of Colorado at Boulder

5.4%

Texas A&M University

5.4%

Purdue University

5.4%

Air Force Institute of Technology

3.6%

University of Alabama

3.6%

Phoenix Seminary

3.6%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.6%

University of Washington

3.6%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

3.6%

California State University - Los Angeles

3.6%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.6%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

California State University - Fullerton

3.6%

North Dakota State University -

3.6%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering

39.0%

Systems Engineering

7.9%

Aerospace Engineering

7.9%

Computer Science

6.7%

Business

6.1%

Computer Engineering

4.3%

Management

3.0%

Engineering

3.0%

Automotive Technology

3.0%

Mathematics

2.4%

Physics

2.4%

Finance

1.8%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.8%

Biomedical Engineering

1.8%

Project Management

1.8%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.8%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.2%

Computer Information Systems

1.2%

Information Technology

1.2%

Theology

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.1%

Masters

39.9%

Other

11.5%

Associate

3.8%

Doctorate

1.6%

Certificate

1.1%
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Highest Avionics Systems Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Avionics Systems Engineer CMC Electronics Aurora, Inc. Sugar Grove, IL Oct 01, 2010 $105,580
Senior Avionics Systems Engineer Interpro, Inc. Newport News, VA Jan 12, 2015 $96,325
Avionics Systems Engineer CMC Electronics Aurora, Inc. Sugar Grove, IL Oct 01, 2012 $78,951
Avionics Systems Engineer Aeroflite Engineering, LLC. Vienna, VA Aug 01, 2014 $71,750

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Top Skills for An Avionics Systems Engineer

  1. Avionics
  2. Test Cases
  3. System Integration
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Analyzed requirements for modification and installation of avionics equipment.
  • Developed Use Cases and Test Cases to ensure requirements would be Verifiable.
  • Analyzed and implemented FAA regulatory requirements.
  • Developed and presented to FAA Designated Engineering Representative the PMS Systems Test and Software Accomplishment Summary to meet DO-178B requirements.
  • Identified parts necessary to integrate with robotics and GPS for full autonomous control.

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