Propulsion Engineer

Introduction

As a Propulsion Engineer, you will be responsible for the engine, controls, fuels and the power system in aircraft.

Also known as

  • Computational Fluid Dynamic Engineer
  • Design Aerospace Engineer
  • Manufacturing Aerospace Engineer
  • Materials Aerospace Engineer

Work Activities

As a Propulsion Engineer, you will be responsible for the engine, controls, fuel and the power systems operating within aircraft.

You could be working on:

  • commercial aeroplanes
  • defence systems
  • security systems
  • space aircraft

You will first receive a brief from the client which will have the specifications for the propulsion system that you will be working on. It will state the specifications for the engine, power system and the controls, which will have to fit into an airplane or maybe even a spacecraft.

Once you have designed these, you will then go back to the client and make any changes if needed.

Before production starts on the aircraft, you will start some testing procedures and simulation methods. This will help identify any problems when it is installed into the aircraft and also any improvements that could be made to the performance. The testing includes whether the weight, cost and the productivity of the systems could be improved.

If there any problems, then this will need to be fixed before it can be installed into the aircraft.

When the testing has been completed, you will then work with other Propulsion Engineers and Technicians to install the systems into the aircraft safely.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Propulsion Engineer, you need:

  • to work well on your own and as part of a team
  • strong communication skills to explain complex engineering information to people from non-technical backgrounds
  • to work within budgets
  • an understanding of engineering licence regulations
  • to be willing to keep up to date with advances in technology in this fast -changing field
  • an analytical, logical approach to solving problems, combined with creativity and imagination
  • to be flexible and able to compromise
  • excellent IT skills as a lot of engineering work involves using computers
  • to be good at maths
  • to read and interpret engineering diagrams
  • an interest in aviation

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £33,000 - £37,500
  • With experience: £40,000 - £47,000
  • Senior Propulsion Engineers earn £52,500 - £60,000

Hours of work

Most Propulsion Engineers work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, you may need to start early, finish late or do some weekend work, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Employers are:

  • aircraft manufacturers
  • defence companies
  • component manufacturers
  • airlines
  • the armed forces
  • the Ministry of Defence

Opportunities for Propulsion Engineers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for Propulsion Engineers to work independently as freelance Consultants.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Find a Job website.

Vacancies can also be found through specialist engineering recruitment agencies, internet job boards and the websites of professional engineering bodies.

GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers

www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/engineering/

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

To become a Propulsion Engineer you will usually need to complete a relevant engineering degree, foundation degree or HND.

You could also enter with degrees and HNDs in other engineering disciplines, especially mechanical and electronics engineering.

The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) can provide details of colleges and universities offering relevant courses.

It's essential to check college/university websites carefully to make sure the course you choose is appropriate to the branch of engineering you want to follow.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

An Advanced Level or Degree Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Training

Some graduates join graduate training schemes, which offer structured training and learning.

To become a Propulsion Engineer, you could gain status from Chartered Engineer or Incorporated Engineer professions. This could make you stand out from the crowd!

To register as a Chartered Engineer or an Incorporated Engineer, you must join a professional engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council. You will have to demonstrate commitment and competence to the course to register.

Routes to Chartered Engineering status include completing:

  • an accredited honours degree in engineering or technology, plus either an appropriate Masters degree or engineering Doctorate accredited by a professional Engineering institution, or appropriate further learning to Masters level
  • or, an accredited integrated MEng degree

Routes to Incorporated Engineering status include completing:

  • an accredited Bachelors or honours degree in engineering or technology
  • or, a HNC, HND or foundation degree in engineering or technology, plus appropriate further learning to degree level
  • or, a NVQ level 4, which has been approved by a licensed Engineering institution

Progression

Depending on their qualification, Propulsion Engineers can progress by taking on more responsibility for the management of engineering projects and teams of Engineers.

Some Propulsion Engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.

Qualifications

To enter a degree course in engineering, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels, usually in maths and physics
  • GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C/4 or above
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
  • English, maths and a science subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C/4 or above

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • a BTEC level 3 qualification
  • an Advanced Level Apprenticeship
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Semta

Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies

Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT

Tel: 0845 6439001

Email: customerservices@semta.org.uk

Website: www.semta.org.uk

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500

Website: www.engc.org.uk

Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)

Address: 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ

Tel: 020 7670 4300

Email: raes@aerosociety.com

Website: www.aerosociety.com

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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