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Engineering design

Aerospace engineer

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

Annual Salary

£25,000 to £52,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; occasionally

Future employment

There will be 3% more Aerospace engineer jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day duties will depend on your role. You could:

  • develop navigation, communications or weapons systems
  • research ways to make fuel-efficient parts, such as wings, fuselage and engines
  • use CAD software for design
  • test prototypes
  • collect and analyse test data
  • plan and supervise the fitting of aircraft and components
  • sign off projects under strict industry regulations
  • schedule and supervise maintenance
  • write technical reports and estimate project costs and timescales

Working environment

You could work in a factory, in an office, on an aircraft or in an aircraft hangar.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

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

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

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

Entry requirements

You may need:

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

You could do an engineering higher or degree apprenticeship. Relevant apprenticeships for working in the aerospace industry include:

  • aerospace engineer
  • electro-mechanical engineer
  • materials science technologist
  • materials process engineer
  • power and propulsion gas turbine engineer

You would combine learning in the workplace with studying for a degree at an approved university.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

You may be able to join a company as an engineering technician and do training on the job to qualify as an engineer.

Direct application

You can apply for jobs directly if you've got qualifications and experience, for example from working in mechanical, electrical or electronics engineering.

More information

Further information

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

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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
  • science skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • knowledge of physics
  • operations analysis skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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