Jobs in aeronautics involve creating, designing, developing, testing, building and running aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles.
The scientists, engineers and allied professionals who work in the $218 billion aerospace industry direct and coordinate the creation of aircraft and aerospace products. They propose and plan new products, evaluate product designs for functionality and estimate the cost to produce products. Other aeronautics careers include managing aircraft or spacecraft-building projects and conducting inspections to determine why existing products malfunction or fail.
Aerospace engineers also develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems and spacecraft. Areas of specialization within aeronautics include aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; or propulsion and combustion.
Aeronautics Job Types
Aeronautics jobs involve aircraft or propulsion systems for products that fly within Earth's atmosphere, such as commercial or military airplanes, helicopters, remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcrafts.
Work in aeronautics can also involve spacecraft capable of flying inside and beyond Earth's atmosphere such as launch vehicles, satellites, missiles used by the military and rockets.Spacecraft career specialties include aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.
Aeronautics Job Market
Aeronautics employment should be plentiful in the next few years because half the people now in aeronautics will be old enough to retire by 2017. Jobs in aeronautics also pay less than other engineering jobs, which may be why nearly half of engineers who major in aeronautics work in another industry, according to data from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Two other factors will influence the number of aeronautics job opportunities. There aren't enough US students currently majoring in engineering to fill all the open aeronautics jobs, and visas for foreign workers who could fill those positions are limited.
The median salary for aerospace engineers was $102,420 in May 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Aviation Week says the average pay ranged from $61,379 for entry-level aeronautics jobs to $145,832 for the most experienced aerospace engineers.