Propulsion Engineer

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Career outlook for propulsion engineer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "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?

Aim for the stars with a career as a propulsion engineer. Picture yourself working on the rocket engines used to take spacecraft into orbit. That’s what a day in the life could look like in this career.

Propulsion systems include engines, fuel, energy or anything that helps objects move or take flight. You'd design, build and look after these.

You might work in the aerospace industry helping planes fly around the world. Or you could dive into a role working on vehicles used in underwater expeditions. You could also tackle carbon emissions by developing greener propulsion systems. Anything that needs propulsion technology to move would be your area of expertise.

Your tasks might include: 

  • designing and developing propulsion systems for vehicles or aircraft 
  • testing and evaluating propulsion systems 
  • working with other engineers, designers, and technicians to integrate the propulsion system  
  • meeting safety and performance standards 
  • looking after and fixing propulsion systems 
  • staying up to date with the latest developments in propulsion technology 
  • providing technical support and expertise to other team members 
  • communicating updates and findings from the work you do 
  • managing budgets and schedules for projects

Working conditions


You'd likely work 35 to 40 hours per week, from Monday to Friday. On some projects, you might work longer hours, or at irregular times to meet deadlines.


You'd work between different environments depending on the work you're carrying out. You'd spend time in the laboratory, an office and production and assembly sites like a factory.


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

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Building relationships
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Designing
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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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.


To work in this role, you must have a high standard of technical skills and knowledge. Studying towards qualifications at college or university is a great starting point. Employers will value qualifications in areas such as mechanical, civil and aerospace engineering.

A common route into the career is getting a degree in a relevant subject. Some roles will accept applicants who have a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND). You could also do an apprenticeship to build skills while getting experience on the job.   


You can start learning the skills you'll need in this career through a Foundation Apprenticeship. While you're in S5 or S6, you'll gain work experience while you study.

Have a look at this Engineering apprenticeship on It could set you up for further study or to get into a job where you can develop your skills. 

If you’re 16 or older, a Modern Apprenticeship will let you work and earn while you study for a qualification. After you qualify, you'd be able to study further or move into a role where you can build experience. has options where you'll learn relevant engineering principles and skills. Here are some you might find helpful:  

You could also earn a degree level qualification through a Graduate Apprenticeship. Check out these options:


Some jobs accept applicants with a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND). You could go to college after school to get one of these qualifications.

There are many subjects where you can learn useful practices. Some cover engineering from a general perspective and other offer more specialised knowledge. You could study:   

  • aircraft engineering
  • civil engineering
  • electrical engineering
  • engineering
  • engineering systems
  • mechanical engineering

Entry requirements will depend on the subject and the level you're studying. For HNC or HND courses, you'll likely need 1 or 2 Scottish Highers at Grade C. Courses value school qualifications in maths or physics.  

Search for courses relevant to this role.


You could go to university and get a degree in engineering. Degrees in aerospace engineering will be particularly valuable. Some subjects you could study include:  

  • aerospace systems
  • aircraft engineering
  • civil engineering
  • electrical engineering
  • engineering
  • mechanical engineering

The qualifications you need for degree courses will depend on the subject. You'd likely need either:  

  • an HNC or HND in a relevant subject
  • 4 Highers at BBBB or above

Courses value qualifications in maths, science and technology subjects.

Search for relevant undergraduate courses.

Useful subjects

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Engineering Science

Helpful to have

Experience or qualifications which show knowledge of the industry will be helpful. For example, Skills For Work: Engineering or relevant Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). 

You might be able to get volunteering experience in an engineering environment. This’ll help you build up the skills, knowledge and experience needed for a career in mechanical engineering.

Have a look for relevant opportunities using our search.

It will help to join a professional engineering institution. The Engineering Council has a list of recognised bodies you can become a member of.