Aerospace engineer

aeronautical engineer aircraft engineer
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Career outlook for aerospace engineer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would design and build aeroplanes, helicopters, spacecraft, satellites, missiles and rockets.

You'd design, build and maintain the aircraft and the parts and instruments that go inside them. You'd make them safe and efficient for people to use.

You'd plan and organise projects to improve:

  • Fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters
  • Space vehicles and satellites
  • Missiles and weapons
  • Flight simulators
  • Flight components and instruments

You could focus on research and development, testing, or production and maintenance.

You would:

  • Develop avionic systems like navigation instruments and communications
  • Research ways to make fuel-efficient parts, such as wings, fuselage and engines
  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to draw up project designs
  • Carry out ground- and flight-testing programmes on prototypes
  • Collect and analyse test data
  • Plan and supervise the assembly and fitting of aircraft and components
  • Sign off projects under strict licensing regulations
  • Schedule and supervise line (airport) and base (hangar) maintenance of aircraft

You would also be involved with estimating project costs and timescales, attending meetings, writing technical reports and manuals, and giving presentations to managers and clients.

With several years' experience as an engineer, you could work on the investigation of air accidents.

You need a comprehensive understanding of engineering licence regulations and a commitment to keeping up to date. Having European language skills might be helpful, particularly if you are working on a joint international project.

Working conditions


You would work 37 to 40 hours a week, but longer hours may sometimes be needed, depending on the project and deadlines.


You would work in offices and factory production hangars.


You may have to travel to inspect or test aircraft at different sites.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Evaluating
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Analysing

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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You would need a Higher National Diploma (SCQF Level 8), a degree (SCQF Level 9/10) or a postgraduate qualification (SCQF Level 11) preferably in aeronautical, aerospace or aero-mechanical studies. 

Alternatively work-based qualifications, including a Modern Apprenticeship, are available.

Entry to a Higher National Certificate (SCQF Level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF Level 8) in Aircraft Engineering requires National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers; this can support entry to an Aircraft Engineer degree.

Entry to an aeronautical, aerospace or aero-mechanical degree (SCQF Level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and Highers at AAAB or above with Advanced Highers preferred.

To enter a postgraduate qualifications (SCQF Level 11) usually requires a relevant degree and experience.

If you have a degree related to engineering, for example maths, science or technologies, HNC/D and extensive aerospace experience you may be eligible to apply to the Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme for funding towards a postgraduate degree in aerospace engineering. 

Useful subjects

  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employers)
  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • English (required by many courses and employers)
  • Engineering science
  • Design and manufacturing


You will also need

Once in the job you need to work towards the Part-66 engineering licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It has three categories, A, B and C, with Category B the standard licence for many engineers.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show an understanding of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCQF Level 4), Energy (SCQF Level 5) or Construction Crafts (SCQF Level 4/5) may be helpful.