Aeronautics professionals focus on the design and development of airborne vehicles. The field also includes aviation students, who train for careers as aircraft maintenance technicians, dispatchers, air traffic controllers, and pilots. Other learners may pursue aerospace engineering studies to prepare for careers as flight engineers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for aerospace engineers will increase 6% from 2016 to 2026, which is on par with the national average for all occupations. The aerospace industry needs engineers to solve industry problems, such as reducing emissions and improving fuel use. Over the same time period, the BLS projects 4% growth for pilots, with new aircraft models and systems scheduling affecting demand.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Aeronautics?
Graduates with an aviation degree work in areas such as aircraft design, flight, business, and management. When choosing a program, students must first decide whether online or on-campus learning best fits their needs. Both types of programs offer benefits. Online programs offer flexible scheduling options and are ideal for working professionals. On the other hand, on-campus programs provide opportunities to interact and network in person.
Students earning an aeronautics or aviation degree gain skills in areas including math, problem solving, critical thinking, decision-making, and communication. Concentrations emphasize areas such as technical expertise, innovation and creativity, and project management. Curricula are typically similar for both online and on-campus bachelor's in aviation science programs. However, on-campus students have more program options. On-campus learners also have access to in-person instruction and campus facilities, such as libraries.
On-campus students often have opportunities to network and attend recruitment events. Learners may also use campus connections to secure internships. After graduation, these professional connections can lead to job opportunities.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Aeronautics?
A bachelor's in aeronautics prepares students for careers in areas including aviation design, flight engineering, and aeronautical maintenance. Earning a bachelor's in aviation science readies students to become pilots, air traffic controllers, and operations managers. The aerospace field is expansive; students who concentrate in airport management find positions as airport managers, operations officers, inspectors, and quality assurance specialists. Airlines hire professionals in areas including research and development, construction, maintenance, and piloting.
- Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers design and create aircraft and spacecraft. These professionals test and analyze prototypes and assist in manufacturing. This position requires at least a bachelor's degree in aviation engineering, aerospace engineering, or another field related to aerodynamics or the science of flight and propulsion.
Median Annual Salary: $113,030
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Aircraft Pilot
In addition to flying and navigating air transportation, such as airplanes and helicopters, pilots perform quality assurance before and after flights. Pilots must be able to identify whether an aircraft is safe to fly. Pilots also need a solid understanding of meteorology to anticipate and address weather-related problems.
Median Annual Salary: $111,930
Projected Growth Rate: 4%
- Postsecondary Teacher
Educators at the college level must hold a Ph.D. in the subject they intend to teach. For example, aerospace professors often have academic backgrounds in engineering. Professors in the aeronautics field lead courses in engineering, design, theory, and implementation. They teach students fundamental principles of aerospace and systems related to flight.
Median Annual Salary: $124,540
Projected Growth Rate: 3%
- Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers ensure the safety of aircraft by monitoring operations in the air and on land. These professionals help aircraft stay on course and maintain safe distances during flight and landings. Many aspiring air traffic controllers complete the AT-CTI program, which is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Median Annual Salary: $61,260
Projected Growth Rate: 5%
- Avionics Technician
Avionics technicians help maintain the safety of all aircraft. Daily tasks often include diagnostic testing, wing repair, and interpreting flight data. These technicians analyze data to identify the cause of performance issues or malfunctions. Most avionics technicians hold certification from FAA.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
How to Choose a Bachelor's Program in Aeronautics
When choosing an aeronautics or aviation program, students should consider factors such as program length and concentration options. Students should also consider how their enrollment status will affect cost and degree completion time. Part-time students typically take longer to graduate, while full-time learners graduate and enter the workforce more quickly. Although part-time students may pay more, distributing costs across more years can make them more manageable.
Students should ensure any prospective school holds accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). A school's accreditation status impacts students' financial aid eligibility and the transferability of earned credits. Prospective students should also consider each school's location, which can affect employment opportunities and cost of living. Additionally, although curricula are generally similar, students should ensure the program offers any specific courses or concentrations they need to meet their career aspirations.
When choosing between an on-campus and online aviation degree, learners should consider personal and professional obligations. Online learning is ideal for working professionals and students with family commitments. Online programs also eliminate the need to relocate. Recent high school graduates often choose on-campus programs, which provide opportunities to interact with peers and professors in person.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Aeronautics
There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutions can receive regional and national accreditation, with regional being the older and the more highly regarded. All six regional accrediting agencies are recognized by the ED. Attending a regionally accredited school ensures other institutions and employers will recognize earned credits and degrees.
Programs can receive specialized accreditation from authorities in the field or industry. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology awards accreditation to aerospace engineering programs that meet set standards of quality.
Bachelor's in Aeronautics Program Admissions
After narrowing down prospective schools, students complete an application. Applicants must often submit standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. The application process is typically online for both online and on-campus programs. However, applicants to on-campus programs may also complete in-person interviews. To meet every deadline, applicants should begin requesting and gathering documents in advance.
- Minimum GPA: Minimum GPA requirements vary by program and may prioritize certain courses. For example, an engineering program may require applicants to have a certain GPA in mathematics courses. If the school does not specify a minimum GPA, applicants can review the profile of the previous freshman class.
- Application: Students submit an application to formally request a college or university consider them for enrollment. The Common App allows students to apply to more than 700 participating colleges and universities with a single application.
- Transcripts: Schools require official transcripts to verify the applicant's GPA and to review their course history. Sending transcripts may be free or may require a small fee. Applicants should request transcripts early to ensure they arrive on time.
- Letters of Recommendation: Programs specify how many letters of recommendation to submit. Most schools require at least two letters. Recommenders should be teachers, professors, or other individuals who are familiar with the student's academic work.
- Test Scores: Applicants to an aeronautics or aviation bachelor's degree program must typically submit SAT or ACT scores. Most schools set minimum score requirements.
- Application Fee: Most colleges and universities require non-refundable application fees. Students who demonstrate financial need can obtain application fee waivers. Students who receive SAT fee waivers automatically qualify for application fee waivers. Applicants can also request fee waivers through The Common App.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's Program in Aeronautics?
While curricula for aeronautics or aviation degree programs are typically similar, available concentrations vary. Students who plan to pursue a specific career path should ensure their school offers the necessary concentration. Below are common aeronautics concentrations and related careers.
|Professional Flight||This concentration is designed for aspiring pilots. Students learn the fundamentals of flight, safety, and emergency response. Students must attend class on campus and must complete a required number of flight training hours.||Commercial, Private, or Military Pilot; Transport Pilot; Flight Instructor|
|Aviation Management||This concentration prepares students for careers in business and operations. Students learn how to run an airport or airline. They receive training in the areas of dispatch, operations, and scheduling. After graduating with their aviation degree, individuals often work for private companies, corporations, and the government.||Airport Manager, Operations Specialist|
|Flight Technology||This concentration readies students for technical positions in the aerospace field. Students gain a foundation in aerospace management and build project-management skills. Graduates pursue careers in aviation and avionics.||Aviation Mechanic, Avionics Technician|
|Air Traffic Control||Students prepare for positions managing airplanes, flight plans, and runways. Students learn about safety and regulations, while gaining essential critical-thinking and decision-making skills.||Air Traffic Controller|
|Safety Science||This concentration focuses on the safety of passengers, personnel, and civilians during flight. Students explore all aspects of aviation safety, including manufacturing, occupational health, and airport security.||Aviation Data Scientist|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Aeronautics Program
While curricula of aeronautics and aviation degree programs vary by school, most programs require similar coursework. Students learn about aerodynamics and the science of propulsion. Those earning an aviation bachelor's degree may also take courses in aerospace computing, business and management, and aviation safety.
- Flight Dynamics
In this course, students study motion. Understanding how objects move through air or space is essential to those who design vehicles. Topics include Kepler's laws, orbital motion, and various equations related to motion.
Students explore the fundamentals of aerodynamics and review topics such as hypersonic flow and wind tunnels. This basic course is a prerequisite for upper-level studies in engineering.
- Aerospace Computing
Engineering students must master computing topics such as C++, branching, arrays, and data structures. Understanding the mathematics behind design enables engineers to create and develop air vehicles.
- Aerospace Engineering
This introductory course provides an overview of the field. Students gain foundational skills and explore ethical issues related to intellectual property.
- Aviation Meteorology
A background in meteorology is useful for aircraft designers and essential for pilots. On a daily basis, pilots read weather reports, analyze weather patterns, and forecast the weather.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Aeronautics?
The length of a bachelor's degree in aviation or aeronautics depends on the program format and the student's enrollment status. Full-time students typically graduate in four years, while part-time students generally require up to two years longer.
Students who transfer from community colleges typically earn their bachelor's in two additional years. Learners can also choose accelerated programs, which allow students to graduate more quickly. Students may choose to complete their degree more quickly in order to enter the workforce sooner; shortening completion time can also reduce the overall cost of the degree.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Aeronautics?
A college degree is an investment, and many students take out loans to obtain their degree. Factors that impact cost include degree completion time, whether the student attends a public or private school, and financial aid. According to the College Board, tuition at public four-year schools costs about 27% less than that at private four-year schools.
In addition to tuition, students must consider other education-related costs. Students must pay for books and supplies, which the College Board estimates cost an average of $1,298 per year. Online learners often save money in costs such as campus housing, food, and transportation. Students pursuing an aeronautics or aviation degree must also consider costs associated with in-person training and flight time.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Aeronautics Prepares For
- Airmen Certification
FAA awards this certification to flight school graduates who pass a written exam. The required number of flight hours vary based on the level at which the candidate intends to fly. For example, to fly privately, candidates must have at least 40 hours of flight time. After completing all requirements, candidates can take the FAA Practical Test and obtain a pilot license.
- Aircraft Mechanic Certification
Candidates for this certification must meet age, experience, and education requirements. After graduating from an FAA-approved maintenance school program, candidates must pass a written examination, an oral test, and a practical test. Candidates may take these tests locally. The oral and practice tests cover 43 subjects and typically take eight hours to complete.
- Control Tower Operator Certification
FAA has not required this certificate since 2015, but the credential can help air traffic controllers advance their careers. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, must undergo simulation training, and must take a practical examination.
Resources for Aeronautics Students
This resource helps individuals understand fundamental concepts related to aeronautics, such as propulsion and how airplanes work. The page also includes tutorials that explain aeronautics concepts with sports examples. Visitors can learn about hypersonic technology and wind tunnels.
This resource provides data and basic information about airlines, aircraft, and airports. Available information includes a national airport summary, airline employment data, and airport snapshots. Visitors can access aircraft profiles and learn which airlines have certain aircraft on order.
The Library of Congress provides a curated list of resources. This page links to industry leaders in aerospace, including the Johnson Space Center, the NASA Ames Research Center, and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
Created in 1961, FAA's Aviation and Space Education program educates the next generation of flight engineers, pilots, and innovators. The program focuses on STEM education for young students.
This resource from the U.S. National Park Service is ideal for educators and students. The page includes instructional tools, lesson plans, and activity ideas focused on the science, math, and technology behind flight.
Professional Organizations in Aeronautics
Joining a professional organization can benefit students, entry-level professionals, and veterans in the field. Many organizations provide access to networking opportunities, resume services, workshops, continuing education classes, and industry events and conferences. Members often make professional connections that lead to internships and jobs. Professional organizations often provide resources such as journals, industry data and exclusive scholarships.
Founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society, the Vertical Flight Society is the world's oldest technical society for vertical technology professionals. Members have access to the latest vertical technology information, including advancements in vertical flight aircraft.
EAA comprises aviators and innovators in the field. Members have access to flying opportunities across the nation. The organization also offers resources for researchers, hobbyists, and designers.
Founded in 1919, AIA advocates for increased aerospace and defense budgets. AIA members includes more than 340 companies, which work with the government on contracts, research and development, and defense systems.
A society for test engineers, SFTE focuses on flight testing and connects members around the world. The society welcomes professionals in flight operations, analysis, instrumentation, and data systems.
Founded in 1954, AAS provides members with opportunities to improve their professional profile, collaborate with leaders in the field, and exchange ideas at annual meetings.