By Laura Cronin 14 Oct 2022 7 min read

What are the different routes towards becoming an aircraft engineer?

Aeronautics, the study of machine flight, has made it possible for people to travel the world, communicate with one another, and even venture into space. The designers of these practical aviation systems are aircraft engineers. A career as an aircraft engineer can be ideal for you if you have strong analytical, mathematical, and scientific skills. In this post, we define an aircraft engineer, go over some of their common responsibilities, and outline the five steps it takes to become one.


What is an aircraft engineer?

An aviation engineer, often known as avionics, aeronautical, or aerospace engineer, is a qualified individual who develops, tests, builds, and maintains aircraft using scientific and mathematical concepts. They could be instrumentation, hydraulics, navigation, engine power, communications, maintenance, or structural design experts. The following types of aircraft may be built by aircraft engineers working for private or public companies:

  • Aeroplanes
  • Commercial jets
  • Satellites
  • Missiles
  • Airships
  • Gliders
  • Commuter liners
  • Military fighters
  • Helicopters
  • Hot air balloons
  • Rockets


What does an aircraft engineer do?

Creating and maintaining vehicles that can travel through the air and outer atmosphere is the responsibility of an aircraft engineer. Repairing aeroplanes to maintain good working conditions is also a significant job responsibility. Some of their regular job duties are listed below:

  • Discussing aircraft performance and potential problems with the pilot and other aviation professionals.
  • Dismantling components like an engine and using cutting-edge tools to check for wear and tear and make repairs. 
  • Examining parts like landing gears, engines, and pressurised areas to ensure optimal functionality. 
  • Gathering data from sophisticated electronic monitoring systems, such as the number of days since the last maintenance and the age of the aircraft.
  • Making sure the aircraft complies with all applicable laws and regulations 
  • Recording testing, maintenance, and repairs to keep records about the condition of the aircraft


How to become an aircraft engineer?

The following five steps will teach you how to become an aircraft engineer:


1. Complete your education


Employers often look for people with at least a bachelor's degree in engineering from an authorised college or university when hiring for the position of an aircraft engineer. One option is to obtain a degree in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, aeronautical science, or a similar speciality. People in this profession frequently have advanced degrees in academic subjects, including physics, calculus, statistics, or computer programming. Here are some course subjects you can come across when pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering or aeronautical science:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Aerodynamics
  • Control of aerospace systems
  • Statics
  • Robotics
  • Electricity
  • Propulsion
  • Fluid mechanics

If you are wondering how to become an aircraft engineer then a master's degree is also something to consider pursuing. In these circumstances, you would conduct in-depth investigations on a selected area of aircraft engineering and present a master's thesis before a panel. A postgraduate degree can be a terrific opportunity to advance your career, strengthen your CV, and expand your skill set.

It's worth noting that the purely academic, university-based route is not the only way to become an aircraft engineer. Read on to discover more about the apprenticeship route, which is also hugely popular.


2. Acquire working knowledge


Many academic institutions require engineering undergraduate students to acquire real-world work experience as part of their study, including the Part-147 course, which is recognised as the training standard for aviation authorities across the UK and Europe. This can be a fantastic chance to learn from an experienced professional while developing practical skills in the industry. As an intern, you can learn how to organise and carry out technical tasks, effectively communicate goals and outcomes, and work with a team to accomplish a common goal.


3. Acquire credentials


After completing the combination of study, exams and hands-on experience required by your chosen qualification route, you'll be able to apply for your Part-66 licence, which will allow you to work as an engineer in the UK or the EU, depending on where you are based. When you are ready to start applying for engineer roles, review job postings carefully for any unique benefits because many companies offer on-the-job training and chances to expand your certifications. Throughout your career, building skills and learning to maintain your licences is critical.


4. Build your network of business contacts


It's crucial to start building your professional network before looking for work. Finding out about job openings, getting references and recommendations, and staying up to date on industry trends can all be facilitated by networking with individuals in the sector and developing strong professional relationships. To network with recruiters, discover more about various aviation companies, and promote yourself; consider attending occasions like job fairs or conferences. To network with industry experts worldwide, you might join a professional association in your country; LinkedIn is also a great place to make valuable connections and join in conversations with those in the aviation industry.


5. Submit a job application


Aeronautical or astronaut fields, including aerodynamics, thermodynamics, acoustics, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, materials, propulsion, or control systems, are all possible specialisations for an aircraft engineer. Manufacturing, R&D, and governmental organisations are some of the main employers of aircraft engineers. Find employment options online matching your hobbies, ambitions, and credentials. By carefully reading the job advertisements, you can make sure you're qualified for the open position. Making a spreadsheet to keep track of all the intriguing roles you come across during your job search might be helpful.

Update and improve your CV before applying. Highlight your qualifications and successes that attest to your prowess as an aircraft engineer. While describing facts on your CV, use the keywords from the job description - many employers look for these words when examining applications. Using certain keywords can make you stand out for the position because some employers even utilise automated systems to evaluate high volumes of applications. If the employer requests a cover letter, emphasise the precise reason you want to work for their organisation and include concrete examples of your past accomplishments.


Easiest approach to becoming an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer 

The easiest approach to how to become an aircraft engineer is probably through an apprenticeship. The most successful form of training is hands-on experience combined with theory in a controlled working environment, according to most major airlines. Many of the current industry leaders got their start through UK apprenticeships, regarded as some of the best in the world. The first year will typically be spent in the workshop and classroom, and the next 2-3 years could be spent working for an aviation maintenance firm. You will often have earned a City and Guilds level 3/4 by the end of the apprenticeship and, depending on the programme, your A1 Licence.

After that, you have a few options. You may either continue working for your firm as an aviation technician or continue your education to earn your B1 or B2 licence. Either take a modular aviation engineering course where you learn; working your day job whilst also attending lessons and then taking tests to qualify. Or, you could enrol in an approved programme where you study the entire engineering course over a year.

You may also enrol in a type-rating course. This will lead you to specialise in working on a specific aircraft type after receiving your B1, B2, or both. These courses have EASA and UK CAA approval. Additionally, various unapproved engineering courses, such as EWIS or fuel tank safety, can be of interest.


We hope this helps give an idea of the path towards becoming an aircraft engineer, and the steps you may wish to consider taking. Ready to start applying? Browse the latest engineering jobs here.