Aeronautical Engineer: Educational Requirements

A division of aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering focuses on applying physics, mathematics and other disciplines to build aircraft. Aspiring aeronautical engineers may consider majoring in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. Read on to learn more about the educational programs, courses and requirements.

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Educational Requirements

In order to become an aeronautical engineer, prospective candidates must complete a bachelor's degree program, usually in aerospace or aeronautical engineering. A program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be required to later earn licensure. Due to the range and breadth of classes, these programs may take 4-5 years to complete. Students typically begin their education by enrolling in core courses in mathematics, chemistry and physics. Additionally, most programs require students to complete introductory labs in which they test engineering principles applied to flight and propulsion.

Once students have completed their core requirements, they may begin taking challenging classes that cover topics ranging from aerodynamics of airplane bodies to electrical systems in cockpits. After covering the fundamentals of flight and stability control, students may delve into aircraft sensors and electrical components, as well as wing structure and flaps. Programs may also provide training in power generation for aircraft, including combustion engine design.

During the senior year of a bachelor's in aerospace or aeronautical engineering, students generally participate in lab and design courses. These courses may require research into issues ranging from construction materials to wing design. While completing their assignments, students may be responsible for simulating flight and modifying areas where designs may not function well. Applying their knowledge, students may then alter models, test designs and prepare class presentations.

Licensure Requirements

College graduates must take two examinations and accrue four years of work experience in order to become a licensed professional engineer (PE). Graduates only need to get their PE credential if they are going to work directly with the public. Graduates earn the title of engineer in training (EIT) after completing the first exam, which can be taken any time after schooling is complete. EITs may then begin on-the-job training, where they further their experience and understanding of aeronautical engineering. Once EITs have completed the required experience, they may take the second exam to become professional aeronautical engineers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for aerospace engineers were projected to increase 5% from 2010-2020, which is below average. As of May 2012, aerospace engineers, including aeronautical engineers, made an average annual salary of $104,810, per BLS reports.

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