How to Become an Aircraft Designer

How to Become an Aircraft Designer

What are the best aviation jobs?

While some people automatically think of pilots, there are other careers worth considering. These include air traffic controllers, airfield operations specialists, avionics technicians, etc.

Now, if you want to go beyond airports, one job that might suit you is an aircraft designer. This job involves designing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. There are also some construction and testing tasks because it’s under aerospace engineering.

Here’s what you need to know to become one as well as the usual career path for aircraft designers!

Becoming an Aircraft Designer: Educational Requirements

Studying aircraft design could mean going for a bachelor’s degree, or if you want to improve your career prospects, getting a master’s.

Some also transition to a job in aviation engineering by using their experience in a related field. For example, automotive designers can use their previous career experience to land a job in aviation or aeronautics. The same applies to structural and mechanical engineers.

If you haven’t chosen your major, though, it’s best to keep related careers in mind. Besides those already mentioned, consider degrees in materials science and electrical engineering. Training in air-vehicle integration, systems safety, aesthetic design, and so on will also be valuable.

Aircraft Design Training: Skills to Develop

How would you rate your CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/manufacturing) skills? What about your CNC(computer numerical control) training and capability? Many employers look for these skills.

Some practical abilities the industry highly values include collaboration and communication skills. Organizational and leadership skills are also essential if you get promoted to project engineer.

For new grads, it’s never too early to develop a network of industry contracts. Gain practical work experience through internships and research different players in the industry. Consider if you want to work for a smaller company with more involvement with every aircraft design or development aspect.

You can also work for a more prominent company, where you might specialize in specific parts (e.g., wings or brakes). Researching associated industries will also benefit you. To learn more about them, you can check out Shannahan Crane & Hoist’s feature on the aerospace industry.

Aircraft Designer Career Path

After a few years as an aircraft designer, you can get promoted to project engineer. As a project engineer, you’ll lead a team of aircraft designers. You’ll also plan and implement projects approved by the management.

Based on your performance, you might get promoted again to senior engineer.

Eventually, those who excel in their jobs become principal engineers in about a decade. Chief or principal engineers are industry leaders who oversee all research and development projects. They lead teams of experienced senior engineers, create budgets, and negotiate with vendors.

Are You Interested in Pursuing a Career in Aviation?

Now that you know more about becoming an aircraft designer, do you think it’s something you’ll want to pursue?

If you still have some questions, that’s okay. It would help if you learned as much as you can about what the job entails.

For more career options, you can check out our other posts.