Aeronautical engineering involves creating and designing aircraft. This field is extremely competitive so it’s important to plan many years ahead. This means you must focus on science and mathematics in high school before spending a minimum of four years in college. You cannot become an aeronautical engineer without first being licensed and this requires passing two exams. There may also be an exam which can only be taken after a certain amount of work experience in the field, which varies depending on which country you are studying in.
An aeronautical engineer designs and develops aircraft, including commercial planes, helicopters, military jets, and missiles. Aeronautical engineering is one of two subfields within aerospace engineering. The other is astronomical engineering, which involves spacecraft.
If you are interested in aeronautical engineering, it is best to have had an interest in aviation for a number of years. You will have a head start before college if you study mathematics and science in high school. Recommended courses include algebra, physics, and calculus as well as computer science.
The next step is to obtain an aerospace engineering degree. Expect to take courses such as advanced mathematics, basic engineering, and aerospace engineering in a bachelor’s degree program. Although a bachelor’s degree is usually enough to begin with, the most successful candidates generally earn a graduate degree or a specialty certificate in a certain area of aerospace engineering. Some of the specialty areas include navigation systems, instrumentation and communication, and aerodynamics. A master’s degree in one of the above topics usually takes an extra two to three years beyond the bachelor's degree.
If you are hoping to get into aeronautical engineering, you will need to earn a license in the region in which you work. Usually, a fundamentals of engineering exam is the first step on the road to being licensed. This examination is normally completed upon graduation. You cannot become successful in the field of aeronautical engineering without this license. This means that you will need work experience as this is a requirement in order to complete the second and final licensing exam.
In the United States, you need at least four years of work experience. This experience can be gained via internship or through working in an entry-level engineering position. There does not appear to be a similar requirement in the United Kingdom, however. Once you pass the final principles of practice of engineering exam, you will be a fully licensed aeronautical engineer.