Engineering design

Aerospace engineer

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

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £60,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Aerospace engineer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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

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

You'll usually need:

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

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

You may need:

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

Apprenticeship

You can do a degree apprenticeship as an aerospace engineer. 

You'll usually need:

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

The Association of Aerospace Universities has more information about courses.

You could also start as an aerospace engineering technician apprentice with an airline operator, airline manufacturer or engineering company. You'dthen continue your training up to degree level.

You'll usually start on a company's training scheme, and work towards your engineering licence, known as a Part 66, and issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). With a license, you can work as a qualified engineer.

Careers in Aerospace has information on careers in aerospace engineering.

£20,000 to £60,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £26,000

Experienced salary: £28,000 to £40,000

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

You'll usually work 39 to 41 hours a week in an office or factory. You may travel to inspect or test aircraft at different sites.

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.

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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 competentl
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