Aircraft engineering apprenticeships

You know when people say, ‘It’s not rocket science’? What if you could prove them wrong and actually do rocket science?

Apply your interest in the world of aviation to the engineering industry with an aircraft engineering apprenticeship. Let’s look at where you can find one and how to apply.  

Jobs in aircraft engineering

Aircraft/aerospace engineer

As an aircraft engineer, you’ll use your technical expertise to design, construct and maintain aircraft systems like helicopters, planes and spacecraft.

Sometimes called an aerospace engineer, this job involves an expert awareness of safety regulations to make sure the aircraft is ready to fly. You can also specialise as a military aerospace engineer, working on complex airborne machinery like drones and missiles for the navy, air force and army. 

CAD technician 

Of course, you can’t build a plane from memory! CAD (computer-aided design) technicians use specialist software to create technical drawings of aircraft, parts, and other machinery. After drafting up the blueprints, you’ll visit production lines and factories to ensure everything is running smoothly and the construction matches your designs.

Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers deal with – you guessed it – mechanical components of aircraft. You’ll be in charge of designing, manufacturing and installing all the moving parts in an aircraft, no matter how big or small. Other responsibilities include developing new manufacturing and engineering techniques and working closely with CAD technicians to check everything fits the specifications. 

Electrical engineer

Similarly to mechanical engineers, electrical engineers design, build and maintain aircraft components. The only difference is that electrical engineers work mostly with the aircraft’s electrical parts. You’ll know how to diagnose issues with the aircraft, test and install new equipment and, most importantly, check that everything is super reliable. 

Air accident investigator 

The aerospace industry is extremely safe. However, incidents can still occur, so air accident investigators are very important. In the unlikely event of a crash, air accident investigators swoop in with the emergency services to gather evidence and determine the cause of the crash. Then, you’ll use the findings to create new safety recommendations and legislation, which will help make the industry even safer in the future.

Apprenticeships in aircraft engineering

BAE Systems

Defence and security company BAE Systems is a highly rated apprenticeship provider, offering positions in their aerospace departments in November and February each year. Places are limited, and competition is hot, so keep a close eye on the opening dates. 


Why stay in the UK when you could do an apprenticeship in France, Poland or Germany instead? Airbus is the second-largest aerospace and defence company in the world, and its international footprint is ideal for students who want to learn while exploring the world. You’ll have the opportunity to work on A320 aircraft, helicopters, satellites and more, but be quick – apprenticeships fill up fast. 


Boeing is one of the biggest names in aviation. Boeing’s current apprenticeships include Aircraft Maintenance and Aircraft Fabrication, during which you will earn respected qualifications and the opportunity to work at one of Boeing’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centres across the UK. 


Leonardo is an Italian multinational company specialising in aerospace and defence. Aircraft engineering apprenticeships at Leonardo last 2-4 years, and the course curriculum focuses on the importance of cybersecurity in the aerospace industry.  


British defence company Oinetiq runs its own apprentice training school, helping you pair technical expertise with real-life workplace skills. With over 6,000 employees, Qinetiq is full of the aircraft industry’s top talent, so you know you’re learning from the best. 


French company Thales provides services in the aerospace, defence, transportation and security industries. Thales’ apprenticeship options range from Level 2 to Level 7, usually lasting 2-4 years. 


Want to specialise in the military industry? Look no further than the RAF’s Aircraft Technician Apprenticeship and the Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering. You’ll earn £18,600 plus benefits, and this figure jumps to £27,200 when you qualify! 

Entry requirements

Most aircraft engineering apprenticeships require GCSEs in English, maths and science at grades 9 to 4. Aircraft engineering is all about your manual skills on top of your academic prowess, so it’s good to show your interest in building and fixing things to potential employees. For example, have you helped your grandad fix up his car? Take pictures of your handiwork and bring them to your interview!

Extra tips

Remember when we talked about rocket science? Well, an aircraft engineering apprenticeship provides you with all the skills, knowledge and experience you need to work in the space industry, too! 

You can specialise in providing engineering expertise for spacecraft like satellites and rockets. You’ll work on the conceptual design, manufacturing and maintenance of these vessels when they launch into the atmosphere. Plus, this job could take you all around the world and give you the opportunity to work in countries with advanced private and commercial space programmes, like the USA. 

When people ask if you’re a rocket scientist, you can say, ‘Kind of, yeah!’. 

Fly high in your career with an aircraft engineering apprenticeship

You’ll find plenty of degree apprenticeships available at the above companies, putting you one step ahead of other applicants when it’s time to get a job in aircraft engineering. 

Want to do a degree but not sure what industry to pursue? Take a look at our ultimate guide to degree apprenticeships and see where you could take your career.  

Relax. We’ll send the jobs to you.

Reckon you know what you want to do, but can’t find the perfect role? Most companies hire their apprentices in a ‘recruitment window’. This means many great jobs are only available for a short time once or twice each year.

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