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How to become an Aerospace Engineer in the UK 

Published: Friday 12th March 2021

The aerospace industry is a fast-growing sector in the UK. The UK Space Agency recently confirmed that the isle of Unst in the Shetland Isles will be home to the first UK spaceport by 2022, with more rocket launch sites being introduced across the British Isles in the next decade, and hundreds of small satellite launch companies are springing up alongside increased investment from industry giants like Lockheed Martin, Airbus, and BAE Systems. Right now, you could be in with a chance to have your CV sent into space to boost your job search! So, read on for more information about how to become an aerospace engineer in the UK in our career guide. 

What does an Aerospace Engineer do? 

Aerospace engineering is a subset of mechanical engineering concerned with the development of aircraft (aeronautical engineering) and spacecraft (astronautical engineering). Colloquially known as ‘rocket science’, aerospace engineers don’t just build rockets, but all sorts of aerodynamic craft for traversing the upper regions of our atmosphere and beyond. 

Aerospace engineers are involved at all stages of an airborne vehicle’s lifecycle. Whether modifying an existing design or creating a new craft from scratch, a solid understanding of physical systems and the behaviours of different materials and mechanisms are necessary. 

When it comes to manufacturing, aerospace engineers not only make decisions about materials and design but also about the logistics of the manufacturing process. Designing an efficient production line can save millions for the manufacturer.  Moreover, the work doesn’t end once the craft takes off. Maintaining operational craft is vital to maximise their lifespan and make the most of resources. With satellites and space-bound craft, maintenance can be a huge operational challenge. Consequently, this means that future-proofing craft and creating innovative methods for machines to maintain and repair themselves is an exciting challenge for those in the aerospace industry. 

Through design, manufacturing, and testing, aerospace engineers take airborne craft from concept to functional vessel for use in transport satellites, goods, or people, conduct scientific research that expands our understanding of our universe, and push the boundaries of human achievement. 

The skills and traits of an Aerospace Engineer 

Aerospace engineers are usually highly methodical, analytical, and logically minded. Therefore, they like to solve problems and put their knowledge to use. They tend to be people with drive who pursue learning throughout their lives and in their spare time. As building aircraft and spacecraft is a hugely complex operation involving the input of many hundreds of engineers across different teams and departments, good interpersonal communications skills are valuable, as is a keen understanding of how each task contributes to the wider goals of the organisation. 

What qualifications do you need? 

A degree in an engineering-related subject is required for most positions in the aerospace industry. At a minimum, candidates will need A levels in maths and physics or an equivalent Level 3 vocational qualification in Engineering. As a highly technical job, excellent numeracy and IT skills will be required, as well as impeccable attention to detail.  

Aerospace Engineer And Apprentice Working On Helicopter In Hangar Looking At Digital Tablet

Alternative routes into aerospace engineering 

If you’re just starting out and want to get a foothold in the aerospace industry, vocational apprenticeships are an increasingly common route into an aerospace engineering career. For instance, the Royal Aeronautical Society offers free 1-2-1 career guidance sessions to help write CVs, cover letters, prep for interviews, and find relevant apprenticeship opportunities.  

A third route into becoming an aerospace engineer is a degree apprenticeship. If you can find employment with a business that does engineering work, you can complete a degree course that brings you up to a Level 6 standard alongside your existing responsibilities. This approach is only possible with support from an existing employer. But if you can find non-engineering work with an engineering firm, you’ll be in a great position to upskill and take advantage of internal opportunities to advance. 

Salaries and career development 

Aerospace engineering positions are competitive, but the salaries on offer can be very rewarding. Entry-level aerospace engineering positions can net you £20K-£24,000 per annum, with the average aerospace engineer in the UK earning upwards of £36,000 per year. At a large firm, you can expect annual salary increases. Furthermore, advancement opportunities might rely on you growing your skillset with further training in specialist fields. This could mean learning on the job or taking time out to return to formal education for a Masters degree or PhD.  

Want to be an aerospace engineer? Make sure your CV reflects the right skills and qualifications with a free professional review from TopCV, and apply today for a chance to have your CV sent into space! 

Get started with a free CV review on Top CV

Having a quality CV can make all the difference when looking for that aerospace engineer job. Make sure your CV maximises your skills and experience by having a free professional review from TopCV.

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