9 careers you can have with a degree in aeronautical engineering | Top Universities

9 careers you can have with a degree in aeronautical engineering

By Chloe Lane

Updated October 9, 2021 Updated October 9, 2021

Sponsored by Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) 

In an aeronautical engineering degree, you will learn how aircrafts are designed, constructed and powered, how they are used and how they are controlled for safe operation. 

Aeronautical engineering degrees are often taught through a combination of theory and practice. This is the case for Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Mainland China, which places a strong focus on integrated learning, research and practical application. 

After completing their aeronautical engineering undergraduate degree, graduates typically go on to a wide range of roles: from working in in the aerospace industry to taking on roles in other branches of engineering or continuing their education in the form of a master’s or a PhD. 

Read on to discover the many career options available to you with an aeronautical degree. 

Aerodynamics engineer 

Aerodynamics engineers focus on planning aircraft tests and analysing aero physics, exploring the suitability of different materials in aircrafts, testing designs and presenting research to their teams. Aerodynamics engineers work closely with the air safety, legal, marketing and customer service teams to ensure cohesion in their work. 

In addition to your degree, employers in this role often expect graduates to have experience in aerodynamic analysis. Although this can be learnt in your degree, it is best learnt in an internship or other work placement in the industry.  

Northwestern Polytechnical University’s School of Aeronautics provides extensive guidance and support for students looking to gain experience in industry. The school has strong connections with a variety of aircraft industry leaders, such as AVIC Changhe Aircraft Industry, and helps students find work placements in their chosen role. 

Design engineer 

If you’re looking to combine your engineering knowledge with creativity, design engineering might be the career for you. As a design engineer you will be developing ideas and doing research into new products to find out how they’re made. You will work to make the products cost effective to produce and ensure they are safe to use. Alongside this, you will be constantly working to improve existing products’ efficiency and their performance. 

Design engineers work on almost every consumer product out there, but many aeronautical engineering graduates choose to work on aircrafts. For example, several NPU aeronautics degree graduates have gone on to become chief and general designers of aircrafts. 

Aeronautical engineer 

As an aeronautical engineer, you will design and test products for aircrafts, spacecrafts, satellites and missiles. You will handle testing and creating prototypes, using software design tools for testing and training, alongside coordinating teams. 

To be successful in this role, you will need to be a good communicator, a good problem solver and be able to work well within a team. This role requires complex knowledge of aeronautical engineering that you will learn throughout your degree. 

Northwestern Polytechnical University’s School of Aeronautics offers various experimental classes focusing on fundamental knowledge and concepts, design and practice, and innovation in aeronautics, helping you build up the skills and experience needed to be successful in the industry. 

Engineering consultant 

Engineering consultants supply engineering advice to clients across the world about different projects. Day-to-day, you will be meeting clients, coordinating teams, and developing project plans. 

For this role you will need strong engineering knowledge, particularly in your specific field of engineering, as well as exceptional organisational skills and excellent problem-solving skills.  

At NPU, the School of Aeronautics has state of the art research areas to help students develop the transferrable skills needed in engineering careers. It teaches students through a combination of theory and practical elements. 

One NPU student said: “I learn theories and apply them in practice here at the School of Aeronautics. I can also learn a new language and experience the rich culture here”. 

Electrical engineer 

Electrical engineer design and develop electrical products to fit customer requirements and ensure they comply with the latest regulations. They should ensure the quality of the product by conducting thorough testing for different electrical systems and machinery. 

Electrical engineers are usually involved throughout the full process of projects, from the first design to the testing and handover stage. An engineering degree is essential for this role, due to the strong technical abilities needed. 

Buyers and procurement officers 

Buyers and procurement officers handle the purchasing goods or services from manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and other sources for internal use or wholesale distribution. You will negotiate the contract with the supplier and try to get the best price for the product or service. 

For this role you will need to be good at communicating and building interpersonal relationships, extremely organised and good at problem solving.  

CNC programmers for the aerospace industry 

As a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) programmer, you will be operating factory machines to turn materials into functional components for the aerospace industry. You will do this by reading technical blueprints and inputting the product design into the computer modelling software, adjusting the machine settings to meet the desired specifications. 

This is a very technical role which will be supported by your training in aeronautical engineering.  You will often be working to strict deadlines so working well under pressure is essential. Other required skills include effective communication, interpersonal and time management skills. 

CAD technician 

CAD technicians use CAD software to create and draw technical plans for products used in engineering industries. This role requires strong engineering, IT, and mathematical knowledge, as you will be using these skills to design machinery, products, and parts. 

You will work alongside architects and design engineers to turn their initial designs into detailed technical drawings which will be used throughout the project. 

Finance graduate schemes 

Although finance may not be a typical career path for engineering students, there are a vast number of finance graduate schemes across all sectors available to graduates of any discipline. Aeronautical engineering graduates will put their numerical and analytical skills to use in these roles.  

Finance roles are also looking for graduates with an eye for detail, who keep up with trends in the sector and are great problem solvers – all skills you will learn in an aeronautical engineering degree. You can either decide to pursue a traditional finance scheme, or go into banking, accounting, or insurance. 


If any of these careers interest you, you might be interested in completing a degree in aeronautical engineering. 

Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, Mainland China is one of the top universities to study an aeronautical engineering degree. At NPU’s School of Aeronautics there are three different degrees in aeronautical engineering available at undergraduate level and two at postgraduate level.  

Whether you’re interested in aircraft design, control engineering or aeronautical structure engineering, you’ll be able to find a programme at Northwestern Polytechnical University to suit you.  

This article was originally published in April 2021 . It was last updated in October 2021

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