Although a career in aeronautics may not be the most common career goal, it’s definitely a lucrative one. People who choose to pursue a career in aeronautics are choosing a field with an average income of six figures. This is true even if your focus isn’t on being a pilot. There are many careers, on the ground, that still pay quite well. However, as a person interested in pursuing an education in aeronautics with the hopes of finding a career in this field, finding and focusing on schools and programs that fit your career aspirations are very important. This is why some schools may be a better choice than others. However, as a potential student, it’s still a good idea to find out which schools are the best of the best for a career in aeronautics and why.
What is the Field of Aeronautics?
People who hold careers in aeronautics play some role in the design, development, maintenance, or operation of airborne vehicles. This field houses many professions because a lot is required to maintain develop and even operate aircraft.
What Can You Do with an Aeronautics Degree?
Careers in the aeronautics field are quite diverse. Most people think of commercial airline pilots or other types of pilots when it comes to aeronautics. However, the field has many other careers that won’t take you off the ground. This includes careers like aircraft maintenance technicians, dispatchers, and air traffic controllers. Of course, most people are familiar with aeronautics careers like pilots and aircraft technicians, however, there are still more professions that fall within the aeronautics category. These careers include:
- Flight engineer
- Aircraft technician
- Aviation and aeronautic design
- Aviation and aeronautic maintenance inspections
- Defense industry design
- Aircraft and spacecraft designers
- Military aerospace engineers
- Inspector and compliance officers
- Aerospace technicians
- Private or commercial pilots
- Flight controller
- Avionics maintenance technician
Finding The Right School and Curriculum
If you’re someone who’s decided that you’d like to pursue an education and career in the field of aeronautics, you’re going to need to find a school that supports your career aspirations and focuses. You will also need to find a school that has a reputation for producing aeronautics professionals. This requires a little soul searching in terms of determining what you’d like to do with your aeronautics education. Is it your dream to fly commercial airlines or would you rather work on or maintain aircraft? Perhaps, none of those career aspirations reflect your interest. Maybe you’d like to direct air traffic and wish to be an air traffic controller. Whatever your interest is, there’s a career within the field of aeronautics that you can pursue educationally.
Regardless of where you decide to focus your intent as a student interested in a career in aeronautics, you will find that the field of aeronautics is a lucrative field with plenty of career growth potential. In fact, Boeing projects another half a million jobs available to job seekers within the next few years. Regardless of the career, you will need to find a school, degree program, and curriculum that has a recognized proven record for success among its students and recent graduates. IN other words, you need to know which schools rank highest for aeronautics and why.
Best 5 Aeronautics Degree Programs
1. (MIT) Massachusetts Institute of Technology/ Cambridge, MA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research-based land grant university. MIT was founded to help grow the nation’s industrial revolution through technology. The school offers polytechnic and STEM degrees. MIT’s motto “mind and hand” symbolizes the desire to fuse academic knowledge and pursuits with practical purpose and application. Students who wish to get a degree in aeronautics can pursue a BS in Aerospace Engineering or take the broader engineering path. Both programs allow students to explore Fluids and Aerodynamics, Electronic Signals and Systems, Thermodynamics, and Physics and Dynamics.
Students who wish to pursue an aeronautics degree from MIT should know that it is ranked among the top 5 best schools worldwide. It also boasts 30K alumni based companies.
In particular, MIT became a space-grant institute of technology to support its aeronautics program. MIT is a school with worldwide recognition and many solid accolades.
Avg cost: $73,160
Graduation rate: 93%
Acceptance rate: 7%
Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1929
2. Georgia Institute of Technology/ Atlanta, GA
The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university and institute of technology as well as a member of the University System of Georgia. It has six separate colleges that offer degrees in engineering, business, and the sciences. Georgia Tech’s Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering provides students interested in aeronautics with an opportunity to attain a BS in Aerospace Engineering. This degree combines coursework and lab and research opportunities. Students have the opportunity to learn about subject matter that includes everything from structural analysis to jet propulsion. The curriculum also includes classes in Aerodynamics, Introduction to Avionics Integration, and Mechanical Behavior of Composites. Seniors also take part in a capstone project with focus areas that include:
Georgia Tech is ranked among the best universities worldwide. It is one of the top 10 best public schools in the US. The engineering and aerospace programs are ranked among the top five best in the nation. From an aeronautics standpoint, the engineering and aerospace programs are also the top five in the nation.
Avg cost: $29,632
Graduation rate: 86%
Acceptance rate: 22%
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
3. United States Naval Academy/ Annapolis, MD
The United States Naval Academy is one of the oldest federal service academies in the US and the second oldest of the five U.S. service academies. It was established under Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. The Naval academy offers an array of STEM-based degree programs, including programs in aeronautics. The school of aerospace engineering offers two education paths which include astronautics and aeronautics. Astronautics introduces students to rocket propulsion and astrodynamics. However, the aeronautics path highlights airplane stability and control, as well as design. Both education paths cover core classes like the Principles of Aerospace Engineering and Structural Mechanics for Aerospace Engineers. Other relevant courses include Mechanics and Materials for Aerospace Engineers and Fundamentals of Aerospace Engineering.
Students interested in pursuing an education at the United States Naval Academy should note that the academy is ranked as one of the top public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report and is considered one of the best schools in the US.
Avg cost: 100% of the tuition is paid by the Navy (Full scholarship in return for 5 years of active duty service after graduation)
Graduation rate: 88%
Acceptance rate: 9%
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
4. The United States Air Force Academy/ El Paso County of Colorado
The United States Air Force Academy is a military academy. It is the youngest out of all five of the service academies. Students who graduate from the academy receive a Bachelor of Science degree. They are also commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force. This program is a good choice for students who aspire to fly for the Air Force. Students who graduate can find jobs within the military and beyond in fields and professions as aeronautical R&D engineers, defense contractors, and project managers. Students can expect a curriculum comprised of in-flight mechanics and aircraft design as well as:
Aircraft Engine Design
Flight Test Techniques
Aircraft Dynamic Stability and Control
Aircraft Feedback Control Systems
Students interested in attending The United States Air Force Academy should note that this academy was rated number six of the top Top 25 STEM Colleges. (2019)
Avg cost: Free for cadets (Commitment to military service after graduation)
Graduation rate: 79%
Acceptance rate: 11%
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission/ Regionally Accredited
5. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/ Troy, NY
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private, research-based university made up of six colleges. It was founded in 1824 and has additional campuses in Hartford and Groton, Connecticut. Students seeking a BS in Aeronautical Engineering program will study fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and aerospace technology. However, students also have the option to study across disciplines. Study disciplines include wind-turbine technology and hydrodynamic environments. Other core classes will cover the Fundamentals of Flight, as well as the Introduction to Engineering Analysis. The curriculum includes Strength of Materials and Engineering Processes. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is considered one of the 50 best universities in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report.
Avg cost: $73,816
Graduation rate: 83%
Acceptance rate: 43%
Accreditation: The Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Many schools offer several programs in aeronautics. There are a wide variety of curriculums and focus areas that students can choose to focus on. However, some schools are better suited for some careers than others. Students who wish to fly airplanes and have an interest in the military may benefit from attending a military academy and pursuing their aeronautics program. This will give them greater access to doing exactly what they want after graduation. Many people who choose to focus their career aspirations on becoming a pilot will benefit from programs that offer a Bachelors’s degree in aviation. Every degree program and school will have some differences, if not many. This is why it’s a good idea to fine-tune your interest and look at schools from the standpoint of your career aspirations.
Students should focus their attention on schools that have a reputation for graduating their students, in addition to other focal areas. A high graduation rate shows continued interest and dedication on the part of both the instructors, the curriculum, and the students. Some institutions of higher education offer a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree. Students can determine which degree would serve their career aspirations best. Careers in the field of aeronautics are lucrative, with many paying six-figure salaries. Pilots are among some of the professionals in this field that typically earn six figures annually. However, there are other professions on the ground that also pay well. For example, the average aerospace engineering salary was 107,830 USD in 2015. Students should look for schools with a history of graduating students in their field of interest as well as a curriculum that reflects their career aspirations.