A degree in aeronautical engineering provides career options in a wide range of industries. This article provides all details about the education, courses, and opportunities in aeronautical engineering.

Careers in Aeronautical Engineering

Aeronautical, or aerospace, engineering deals with the development of new technology in the field of aviation, space exploration, and defense systems. It specializes in the designing, construction, development, testing, operation, and maintenance of commercial and military aircraft, spacecrafts and their components, and satellites and missiles. The main trust in this area is on design and development, which extends to even space and satellite research. Specializations are offered in areas, like structural design, navigational guidance and control systems, instrumentation and communication, and production methods. Aeronautical engineering aspirants can also focus on a particular product, such as military aircrafts, passenger planes, helicopters, satellites, rockets etc.

Course Details
In India, courses in aeronautical engineering are offered at both undergraduate and post graduate levels. The basic eligibility criteria for BE/B.Tech program in aeronautical engineering is 10+2 with science subjects, (Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics), or equivalent examination, with at least 60% marks in aggregate. It is also mandatory to qualify in the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE), conducted by the IITs. Besides the IITs, there are other institutes which conduct their respective entrance examinations for offering admission to students. Plus, there are various national and state level entrance exams for admission in this course. But most institutes running engineering courses in aeronautics consider JEE score as the qualifying grade. Besides, diploma courses are also available in aeronautical engineering. BE/B.Tech is a four-year program, while Diplomas run for 2-3 years in duration. For M.Tech or PhD program in aeronautical engineering, one should obtain a bachelorís degree in aeronautical engineering, or any other equivalent branches of engineering.

Career Prospects
The sky is the limit for aeronautical engineers, in terms of job offers. Jobs are available with national, international, public and private airline services, aircraft-manufacturing units, defense services, and research and development organizations for aeronautical engineers. In Indian context, the defense service, particularly the Air Forces and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) happen to be two major employment providers for aeronautical engineers. Moreover, aeronautical engineers can seek employment in organizations, like Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd. (HAL), Defense Research and Development Laboratories (DRDO), National Aeronautical Lab (NAL), and Aeronautical Development Establishment. Employment opportunities can also be explored in civil aviation sectors, where they can be absorbed by public sector airlines, like Indian Airlines and Air India. However, the most lucrative and gratifying jobs are available in private sector airlines, like Kingfisher, Jet Airways, etc. due to handsome pay packets. Employment opportunities can be checked out in foreign countries, especially United States of America, France, UK, and Germany. A good percentage of Indians constitute the work force of engineers and technical professionals in NASA.

Top Colleges Offering UG/PG/Other Courses
Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) at Mumbai, Kharagpur, Chennai, and Kanpur; Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai; Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh; Hindustan Institute of Engineering Technology, Chennai; Nehru College of Aeronautics & Applied Science, Coimbatore; School of Aviation Science and Technology, New Delhi; Indian Institute of Aeronautical Engineering (IIAE), Dehradun; Institute of Aviation Technology, Bahadurgarh - Haryana; Hindustan Electronics Academy, Bangalore; Indian Institute of Aeronautics, Patna; and VSM Institute of Aerospace Engineering & Technology, Bangalore are some popular colleges in India which offer courses in aeronautical engineering.

Aeronautical engineering has become a remunerative and prestigious career option. Although salary of most aeronautical engineers depends on academic excellence and individual skills, but the average start-up pay in this field ranges from 3-5 lakhs per annum. A highly skilled and experienced aeronautical engineer may even be offered a package of Rs. 80,000 - 1.25 lakh per month. Generally, salary and perks are better in the private sector than the government sector. The approximate starting salaries in the government/public sectors, such as HAL and NAL, are Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 per month. Those working in research organizations, like ISRO and DRDO, are paid monthly remuneration of Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 45,000. Engineering graduates with management degrees are absorbed at starting salaries of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 per month plus perks.

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