Aerospace Engineering vs Aeronautical Engineering: Salary, Similarities, Difference & Job Outlook

A degree in aerospace or aeronautical engineering prepares students for a career in both the engineering and aviation industry. To be more specific, aeronautical engineering is one of the major branches of aerospace engineering; the other being astronautical. Regardless of their overlapping functions, they have their differences. So, in this aerospace vs aeronautical engineering debate, you will get to know their similarities and differences to help you determine which career path is best for you.

Both aerospace and aeronautical engineering covers the design of aircraft, from airplanes to missiles and space shuttles.

However, despite their similarities and overlapping functions, they differ in their own unique ways. The major difference being that while aerospace engineering covers the design of aircraft and spacecraft both within and outside the atmosphere, aeronautical engineering deals only with those within the atmosphere.

So, this article on aerospace engineering vs aeronautical engineering has been written in a bid to give you a better understanding of these aviation engineers. Here, you get to what they do, the similarities and differences between an aerospace engineer and an aeronautical engineer.

You also get to know their job outlooks, salaries, cost of becoming one as well as the best aerospace and aeronautical engineering schools.

Here is a table of what to expect:

Before we go on, let’s get an overview of what aerospace and aeronautical engineering are.

What is Aerospace Engineering?

Aerospace engineering is an engineering field that covers the development of aircraft and spacecraft. It is one of the fastest-growing, dynamic disciplines that focuses on the design, maintenance, and improvement of all types of aircraft, from airplanes to missiles and space shuttles.

Basically, aerospace engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the research, design, development, construction, testing, science, and technology of aircraft and spacecraft within and outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Who is an Aerospace Engineer?

An aerospace engineer is one who designs primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles within and outside the atmosphere. Basically, aerospace engineers evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles.

Aerospace engineers may also develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft.

What Is Aeronautical Engineering?

Basically, aeronautics engineering is the science or art which covers the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight-capable machines. It also includes the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere. 

It is an engineering field that deals with the creation, design, and maintenance of travel machines, including airplanes missiles, helicopters, and satellites.

Who is an Aeronautical Engineer?

An aeronautical engineer is one who applies scientific, technological, and mathematical principles to research, design, develop, maintain and test the performance of civil and military aircraft, including weapons, satellites, and even space vehicles within the atmosphere.

Want to become an Aeronautical Engineer? See these Top 10 Universities Offering Aeronautical Engineering In the World

From the definitions above, you will notice that there are some overlapping functions between aerospace and aeronautical engineering.

So, let’s compare their functions.

What Are The Similarities Between Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering?

Despite the differences that may exist between these two, aerospace and aeronautical engineering are quite similar in some ways.

Firstly, with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, one can pursue a career in the both field. Also, aerospace and aeronautical students usually take some similar courses, like dynamics, propulsion, and fluid mechanics.

Secondly, both aerospace and aeronautical programs generally take four to five years to complete and must be approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

In addition, graduates of both aerospace and aeronautical engineering must take two examinations and accrue four years of work experience in order to become licensed professional engineers (PEs) in their state.

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They can however use the title of EIT (Engineer-in-Training), after passing the first NCEES  Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which can be taken any time after graduation.

Then, EITs must also complete a minimum of four years’ on-the-job training, after which they take the PE exam to become professional aeronautical engineers.

Aerospace Engineering vs Aeronautical Engineering: What Is The Difference Between Two?

The main difference between these two professions is that aeronautical engineering is a specialization within aerospace engineering. 

In fact, workers in aeronautical engineering often work exclusively with aircraft, while aerospace engineers may also work with weapons or spacecraft; and typically earn a higher salary than aeronautical engineers.

Apart from this major difference, there are also other distinctions between an aerospace engineer and an aeronautical engineer.

Now, we are going to be looking at these differences from the following areas:

  • Job/Duties
  • Education
  • Job Outlook
  • Pay
  • Cost

#1 Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering – Job/Duties

Basically, the main duties of an aeronautical engineer overlap with that of an aerospace engineer across several aspects except for the fact that the former only manufactures aircraft that operate within the earth’s atmosphere.

Now, let’s look at their functions independently.

What Do Aerospace Engineers Do?

Basically, aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

The duties of the aerospace engineers include:

  • Directing and coordinating the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products.
  • Assessing proposals for projects to determine if they are technically and financially feasible.
  • Determining if proposed projects will result in safe operations that meet the defined goals.
  • Evaluating designs to see that the products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental regulations.
  • Developing acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, sustainment after delivery, and completion dates.
  • Ensuring that projects meet quality standards.
  • Inspecting malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions.

What Do Aeronautical Engineers Do?

Basically, aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. Aeronautical engineers are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials.

They also work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Below are some major duties of an aeronautical engineer:

  • Designing, developing, testing, and helping manufacture commercial and military aircraft, missiles, and so on.
  • Developing and designing extraordinary technologies such as supersonic jets, helicopters, space shuttles, satellites, and rockets.
  • Improving flight safety, fuel efficiency, speed, and weight.
  • Reducing system costs.
  • Using advancing technologies to meet client and customer needs
  • Researching and developing design specifications
  • Addressing the environmental impact of air travel and the materials/systems, you will be designing.
  • You will need to be able to resolve any issues that arise during the design, development, and testing process, including investigating any aircraft accidents and project management.

#2 Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering – Education

Basically, a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering would likely include both specializations, whereas a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering would focus solely on those vehicles that fly within the Earth’s atmosphere.

However, both options usually require students to take some similar courses, like dynamics, propulsion, and fluid mechanics.

Typical Coursework in an Aeronautical Engineering Program

Basically, students earning a degree in aeronautical engineering take classes such as:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Heat Transfer
  • Aircraft Structures
  • Flight Mechanics
  • Aircraft Stability and Control

Typical Coursework in an Aerospace Engineering Program

In addition to the aeronautical engineering courses listed above, students earning a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering will also take astronautical courses like:

#3 Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering – Job Outlook

According to the US BLS, the employment of aerospace engineers is expected to increase by 2% from 2018 to 2028.

For this reason, growth in research and development activities will be tempered by a projected decline in the employment of aerospace engineers in the manufacturing industry.

As part of aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering has the same projection and job outlook with it.

#4 Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering – Pay/Salary

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for aerospace engineers is $116,500. That is to say, aerospace engineers earn $56.01 per hour.

On the other hand, Glassdoor, the national average salary for an Aeronautical Engineer is $80,000 in the United States. However, on payscale, the average salary an aeronautical engineer earns is $78,442 per year.

#5 Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering – Cost

The annual cost of tuition for a bachelor’s degree in aerospace or aeronautical engineering varies greatly depending on the kind of college or university you’ll be attending. That is, whether you’ll be attending it in-state or out-of-state.

What is the Cost of an Aerospace Engineering Program?

The tuition for an aerospace engineering program can go as low as a little over $8,000 in public institutions to over $45,000 in private universities for in-state students.

However, for those studying out-of-state, tuition ranges from about $27,000 for public schools to more than $45,000 for private institutions.

Notwithstanding, on average, the tuition fee for an in-state aerospace engineering degree would run around $10,500 a year while for someone studying out-of-state the tuition average would be in the vicinity of $36,500.

What is the Cost of an Aeronautical Engineering Program?

At Georgia Tech the cost for a 4-year bachelor could range between $180,000 USD (out of state including housing) to $0 USD (of you qualify for the HOPE scholarship, work for housing to get a free room, and get a side job to pay for food).

On the other hand, including all costs over four years, it will cost around $280,000 to attend MIT or as little as $200,000 to attend Purdue University or the University of Maryland. This cost also includes several round trips from your country to the US college.

These costs are however before any financial aid. With financial aids, will pay lower than that.

In summary, if you come up with $200,000 then you can get a fine astronautical engineering training in the USA and earn a bachelor’s degree.

Now, you know the accrediting body, programs, and cost of becoming either an aerospace or an aeronautical engineer, let’s look at some of their best schools.

What are the Best Aerospace Engineering Schools?

Here is a list of some of the schools that offer the best aerospace engineering programs in the USA.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
  • Purdue University–West Lafayette
  • Stanford University
  • University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Texas–Austin
  • Texas A&M University–College Station
  • University of Colorado–Boulder
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • University of Maryland–College Park

Get detailed information on the schools above. See the Best Aerospace Engineering Schools in the World 

What Are The Best Schools For Aeronautical Engineers?

Various universities all over the world offer programs or specializations in aeronautical engineering . However, if you want to the USA, here are some schools that offer programs for students who want to become aeronautical engineers.

Which is Best For Me Between Becoming An Aerospace or Aeronautical Engineer?

Generally, these two engineering professionals are unique and distinct to each other. However, knowing what to pursue depends on your individual and career goals.

If you really want to concentrate on the manufacture and design of aircraft within the atmosphere, then, you can become an aeronautical engineer. However, if you want to design both aircraft and spacecraft within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, you can pursue a career as an aerospace engineer.

Furthermore, if you want to don’t mind doing any but just want to do your job and also earn more, you can compare the salaries of the two and go for the higher on.

FAQs On Aerospace Engineering vs Aeronautical Engineering: Salary, Similarities, Difference & Job Outlook

What is Aerospace Engineering?

Aerospace engineering is an engineering field that covers the development of aircraft and spacecraft.

What is Aeronautical Engineering?

Aeronautics engineering is the science or art which covers the study, design, and manufacturing of air flight-capable machines. It also includes the techniques of operating aircraft and rockets within the atmosphere.

Who is an Aerospace Engineer?

An aerospace engineer is one who designs primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles within and outside the atmosphere.

Who is an Aeronautical Engineer?

An aeronautical engineer is one who applies scientific, technological, and mathematical principles to research, design, develop, maintain and test the performance of civil and military aircraft, including weapons, satellites and even space vehicles within the atmosphere.

Which body accredits Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering programs?

Both aerospace and aeronautical programs generally take four to five years to complete and must be approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

What is the difference between aerospace and aeronautical engineering?

The main difference between these two professions is that aeronautical engineering is a specialization within aerospace engineering.

Conclusion

Both aerospace and aeronautical engineering covers the design of aircraft, from airplanes to missiles and space shuttles. However, despite the fact that a degree in any of them will lead to a career in aviation and engineering, they have their differences.

The major difference being that aeronautical engineering is a specialization within aerospace engineering. While the aerospace engineer focuses on both aircraft and spacecraft within and outside the atmosphere, the aeronautical engineer focuses on those within.

Nevertheless, if you want to pursue a career in this engineering field, knowing your career and individual goals will help you decide on what is better for you between becoming an aerospace or an aeronautical engineer.

I hope this article on Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering helps you in your decision making.

Good Luck And Success!!!

References

  • US BLS – Occupational Outlook Handbook of Aerospace Engineers
  • Learn.org – What Is the Difference Between Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering Degrees?
  • Study – Difference Between Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering
  • CareerIgniter – How Much Does Aerospace Engineering School Cost?
  • QuoraHow much will it cost me to study aeronautical engineering?

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