How to Become an Aerospace Engineer
4th February 2015
Aerospace engineers are involved in the vast array of tasks which go towards producing aircraft, missiles and space vehicles. In amongst the different roles include things like design, maintenance, manufacture and project management.
If you are interested in an engineering based career at the forefront of technological advancement, then aerospace engineering may well be for you.
To forge a career in aerospace engineering you will need to develop skills in maths with your education including subjects such as physics or technology. You'll also need to develop problem solving skills and a logical approach to dealing with engineering challenges.
As an aerospace engineer you could be:
- Using CAD to design new aircraft, missiles, spacecraft and other technologies.
- Researching new methods for the production of products.
- Testing prototypes of new products and analysing results data.
- Undertaking assessments of new products for safety criteria and ensuring new products are viable.
- Involved in the assembly of new products or supervising assembly teams.
- Managing projects to ensure they meet budgetary requirements and deadlines.
- Undertaking materials analysis for new products.
- Planning, supervising and undertaking a variety of aircraft maintenance activities.
Aerospace Engineering Qualifications and Entry Requirements
From a qualifications point of view there are different options available in order to get into aerospace engineering
For those interested in going through the education route there are a number of aeronautical and aerospace engineering degrees available across the UK. What's more many employers may consider candidates who have come from a variety of other degree backgrounds which could include subjects such as Physics, Maths, Software Engineering, Mechanical or Electrical Engineering.
In order to progress to university requirements at A-Level would tend to focus around Maths and Physics as a standard.
Across the different regions of the UK vocational routes may be available into the aerospace engineering sector with a view to undertaking an apprenticeship and later an advanced level apprenticeship. To find out more on this visit your local further education (FE) college.
As your career advances employees can also seek to improve their qualification base with registration to organisations such as the Civil Aviation Authority and their training programmes or the Engineering Council to become a Chartered Engineer.
Skills required for an Aerospace Engineer Job
In order to have a successful career in the aerospace engineering sector skills which will support your development include:
- Problem solving skills.
- Mathematical skills.
- Project management skills such as time management and financial awareness.
- Technical knowledge and commitment to continuous learning.
- Strong use of CAD and CAM software as well as IT awareness.
- Communication and team working skills.
- Skills in planning and prioritising tasks.
Engineering Working Hours and Conditions
Typical working weeks would be around 37-40 hours per week but if project deadlines approach expect that you may have to put in some overtime.
Roles can be available in environments that include offices, factories and production settings or in hangars on aircraft maintenance.
The UK currently has high demand for engineers so conditions may be favourable, particularly for the highly qualified. Furthermore, for anyone in the sector who may have other linguistic capabilities, frequent travel and opportunities abroad may present themselves during your career.
Aerospace Engineering Salary
For graduate level entrants salaries can typically start from £20k and rise up to £30k dependent on the company and location.
Once established as an engineer within a company salaries can move up to the £40k region and once into managerial roles salaries can then jump up to around the £45k - £60k mark.
The salaries stated act as a guideline.
Aerospace Companies and Locations
The UK will grow its aerospace capabilities significantly over the next few years following the news of plans to build a UK based space port. The rise in private companies such as Virgin Galactic and Xcor who are working on space-planes mean more opportunities may become available.
Companies such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems have long traditional links to employment of the workforce in aerospace engineering. Across the UK, particularly in areas close to the large aviation engineering companies and sites such as airports there are a supply chain of smaller aerospace engineering focussed SMEs, which make up a significant part of the supply chain for the larger companies.
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