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Aeronautical engineering can be defined as the field of engineering “that deals with the research, design, development, construction, testing, science and technology of aircraft” (Aeronautical Engineering Degrees, 2013). More precisely, it has to do with aircraft within the atmosphere, while astronautical engineering mainly has to do with spacecraft. Engineers in this branch go through three to six years of college, depending on how far they want to take their education. Many of the classes are lecture based, and math and physics are prerequisites that cannot be substituted. According to Payscale, aeronautical engineers can look forward to a starting salary of fifty to sixty thousand dollars, and a median salary of $79, 178. With twenty or more years of experience, salaries can even reach over $130 thousand. Salaries are also directly related to the location of the company, the position of the worker, and the level of college education attained. To have a career in aeronautical engineering will require the use of “both mental and physical processes,” along with “knowledge of computer systems” and “hands-on tools to be used on physical aircraft” (Aeronautical Engineer Salary, 2015). Generally, this is true for most engineering fields though.
As with many jobs, there is a variety of skills necessary for a job in aeronautical engineering. First, a person will need “high proficiency in research methodology” and experience with “experiments and data collection” (Aeronautical Engineering Degrees, 2012). They need to be logical and analytical to be able to solve challenging problems that will arise. There are many overlaps in this job with other fields of engineering, so a great asset to have would be “interdisciplinary skills, including expertise in mechanics and engineering.” What’s more, almost all projects will involve working with a team, which means interpersonal skills are a key to success. “Good communication skills” with “people from various backgrounds” will be applied on a day to day basis. Aircrafts are very exact and particular machines due to its many dangers, so a good attention to detail will not go unused. Responsibilities will lead to “investigation into aerodynamic characteristics of aircraft, including behaviors and related factors such as airfoil, control surfaces, lift and drag” (Aeronautical Engineering Degree, 2012).
Geographically speaking, the most opportunistic places include Houston, Texas, and Seattle, Washington. These two cities are known to have the highest salaries according to Payscale in 2015. They “usually work regular business hours, but are sometimes required to work long hours, weekends and evenings” (Aeronautical Engineer). These engineers have to get used to working in “offices, at airports, and aircraft workshops or hangers.” For their work, they may also have to travel internationally, depending on the company.
There is a lot of room for specialization in aeronautical engineering, but some of these may intertwine with each other every once in awhile. Some of the numerous topics include aerodynamics, composites analysis, propulsion, and avionics. Aerodynamics includes the flow of air over the aircraft. Composites analysis helps to find new material that can be used on machines. Propulsion works on powering the aircraft. Finally, avionics “refer to the electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites, and spacecraft” (Aeronautical Engineering Degrees, 2012). Overall, there are lots of choices for everyone.
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