Aeronautical engineer

Produces specifications for, designs, develops, manufactures and modifies military and civil aircraft, aeronautical components and associated systems.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Design/Systems/Test engineer


An aeronautical engineer designs, constructs and tests safer and more energy efficient aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Aeronautical engineers can specialise in: structural design; flight mechanics and control systems; aerodynamics; instrumentation and communication; and manufacturing and maintenance.

What the job involves

  • Design the body of aircraft, including shape testing, selecting the right materials for manufacturing and strength and structural modelling
  • Check the performance of an aircraft in terms of stability and control
  • Develop automated control systems for aircraft and test them
  • Improve the aerodynamics of moving aircraft through design and testing, ensuring the craft flies smoother and faster
  • Supervise the construction of aircraft in line with strict safety and design requirements

How your career can develop

Promotion to senior engineer level is possible and with more experience, you can be promoted to principal engineer level and beyond. Aeronautical engineers may often travel to different parts of the world to meet clients, suppliers and manufacturers as part of their work.

Why aeronautical engineering matters

University of Limerick graduate Pio Fitzgerald secured an internship with airline manufacturer Boeing and was recruited by the aviation giant afterwards. After he successfully fixed a problem with the aerodynamics of one of their aircraft, he was announced as Boeing’s ‘Engineer for the Year’.


  • Good mathematical and technical skills including physics
  • Ability to think methodically; to design, plan and manage projects
  • Ability to maintain an overview of entire projects while paying attention to detailed technical issues that might arise
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Negotiating, supervisory and leadership skills combined with the ability to delegate

Typical employers

  • Aircraft component manufacturing companies
  • Irish Air Corps
  • Airline operators
  • Defence industry

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting €30,000
  • Senior/Potential €55,000+

Typical qualifications

A very regulated industry, aeronautical engineering has strict entry requirements and requires continuous skills upgrades. At entry level, you will need a degree in aerospace engineering, but degrees in the following areas can also act as gateways to the industry:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electronic/electrical engineering
  • Manufacturing engineering
  • Product engineering
  • Physics and applied physics
  • Software engineering
  • Maths