Aeronautical or aerospace engineers plan, develop, test and manage the production of missiles, aircraft, spacecraft and other air vehicles. They can specialise in specific types such as helicopters or combat jets, or in certain systems such as guidance, instrumentation, communication or structural design. A bachelor's degree is typical for entering the field, though higher degrees may be required for research and management positions. Starting salaries are some of the highest for all graduates.
As of May 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the median compensation of the 70,570 aeronautical engineers is £29.6 hourly or £61,607 yearly. The lowest 10 per cent make £18.6 or £38,675 per year, while the highest 10 per cent receive £43.0 or £89,524 per year. Those in the bottom 25 per cent earn £23.30 or £48,522, while those in the top 25 per cent receive £36.2 or £75,491.
The top-paying industries for this job belong to professional, scientific, and technical services with compensation at £36.5 per hour or £76,037 per year, and scientific research and development at £33.9 per hour or £70,694 per year. However, this differs from the industries offering the most jobs, which are aerospace product and parts manufacturing, in which compensation is at £27.4 per hour or £57,024 per year, and architectural, engineering, and related services, at £30.5 per hour or £63,440 per year. The federal government offers both excellent employment opportunities as well as one of highest-paying incomes at £34.0 hourly or £70,733 per year.
Salaries differ by state and city, with the best-paying employers located in Maryland, where rates are £36.0 per hour or £74,951 per year, and the District of Columbia at £34.7 per hour or £72,332 per year. The top cities for pay are both in California: Riverside, with compensation at £39.8 hourly or £82,855 per year, and San Jose, at £37.6 per hour or £78,299 per year.
These locations differ from the ones with the best job opportunities. The states with the biggest concentration of aeronautical engineers are Kansas, with pay at £27.4 or £57,057, and Washington at £28.8 or £59,936. The cities with the most engineers per capita are Huntsville, Alabama, with income at £32.50 or £67,749, and Wichita, Kansas at £27.5 or £57,226.
The BLS predicts job growth of 10 per cent for the years 2008 to 2018. An equivalent average increase in salaries is also predicted. Fuelling this growth are new technologies and designs for civilian and military aircraft, as well as the rapidly expanding field of spacecraft. New graduates are also needed to replace those who retire or leave the field.