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Become An Aerodynamics Engineer

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Working As An Aerodynamics Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $86,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Aerodynamics Engineer Do

Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Duties

Aerospace engineers typically do the following:

  • Direct and coordinate the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
  • Assess proposals for projects to determine if they are technically and financially feasible
  • Determine if proposed projects will result in safe aircraft and parts
  • Evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental challenges
  • Develop acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, sustainment after delivery, and completion dates
  • Ensure that projects meet quality standards
  • Inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions

Aerospace engineers may develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft. They often specialize in areas such as aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation, and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; and propulsion and combustion.

Aerospace engineers can specialize in designing different types of aerospace products, such as commercial and military airplanes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, including launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets.

Aerospace engineers often become experts in one or more related fields: aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.

Aerospace engineers typically specialize in one of two types of engineering: aeronautical or astronautical.

Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. They work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the earth’s atmosphere.

Astronautical engineers work with the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the earth’s atmosphere.

Aeronautical and astronautical engineers face different environmental and operational issues in designing aircraft and spacecraft. However, the two fields overlap a great deal because they both depend on the basic principles of physics.

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How To Become An Aerodynamics Engineer

Aerospace engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another field of engineering or science related to aerospace systems. Aerospace engineers who work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearances.

Education

Entry-level aerospace engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree. High school students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take courses in chemistry, physics, and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Bachelor’s degree programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies in subjects such as general engineering principles, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics, and aerodynamics, which is the study of how air interacts with moving objects.

Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in partnership with regional businesses, which give students practical experience while they complete their education. Cooperative programs and internships enable students to gain valuable experience and to finance part of their education.

At some universities, a student can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree upon completion. A graduate degree will allow an engineer to work as an instructor at a university or to do research and development. Programs in aerospace engineering are accredited by ABET.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to identify design elements that may not meet requirements and then must formulate alternatives to improve the performance of those elements.

Business skills. Much of the work done by aerospace engineers involves meeting federal government standards. Meeting these standards often requires knowledge of standard business practices, as well as knowledge of commercial law.

Critical-thinking skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to translate a set of issues into requirements and to figure out why a particular design does not work. They must be able to ask the right question, then find an acceptable answer.

Math skills. Aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Aerospace engineers use their education and experience to upgrade designs and troubleshoot problems when meeting new demands for aircraft, such as increased fuel efficiency or improved safety.

Writing skills. Aerospace engineers must be able both to write papers that explain their designs clearly and to create documentation for future reference.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an aerospace engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Advancement

Eventually, aerospace engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may even become engineering managers or move into executive positions, such as program managers.

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Aerodynamics Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

72.0%

Unknown

16.8%

Female

11.2%
Ethnicity

White

53.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Asian

15.5%

Black or African American

7.8%

Unknown

6.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

35.3%

French

17.6%

Chinese

11.8%

Mandarin

11.8%

German

5.9%

Japanese

5.9%

Korean

5.9%

Italian

5.9%
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Aerodynamics Engineer Education

Schools

Purdue University

9.4%

University of Texas at Austin

9.4%

University of California - Davis

7.5%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

7.5%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

5.7%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

5.7%

North Carolina State University

5.7%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

5.7%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.8%

University of Florida

3.8%

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

3.8%

San Jose State University

3.8%

Brigham Young University

3.8%

Texas A&M University

3.8%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.8%

University of Illinois University Administration

3.8%

University of New Mexico

3.8%

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

3.8%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.8%

University of Texas at Arlington

1.9%
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Majors

Aerospace Engineering

45.7%

Mechanical Engineering

26.7%

Engineering

6.0%

Business

5.2%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

1.7%

Automotive Technology

1.7%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.7%

Systems Engineering

0.9%

Science, Technology, And Society

0.9%

Statistics

0.9%

Mathematics

0.9%

Finance

0.9%

Surveying, Mapping, And Hydraulic Technologies

0.9%

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, And Research

0.9%

Physical Therapy

0.9%

Meteorology

0.9%

Theology

0.9%

Chemical Engineering

0.9%

Aviation

0.9%

Chemistry

0.9%
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Degrees

Masters

39.8%

Bachelors

38.1%

Doctorate

14.4%

Other

6.8%

Diploma

0.8%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$86,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$61,000
Min 10%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$123,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Air Products & Chemicals
Highest Paying City
Mountain View, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does an Aerodynamics Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Aerodynamics Engineer in the United States is $86,966 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $61,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $123,000.

Real Aerodynamics Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Aerodynamics Engineer Zee.AERO Inc. Mountain View, CA Sep 23, 2016 $156,000
Aerodynamics Engineer Kitty Hawk Corporation Mountain View, CA Sep 27, 2016 $156,000
Aerodynamics Engineer Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Hawthorne, CA Aug 29, 2016 $138,000
Turbomachinery Aerodynamics Engineer Sulzer Turbo Services Houston Inc. La Porte, TX Apr 22, 2016 $126,381
Aerodynamics Engineer Tesla Motors, Inc. Hawthorne, CA Sep 22, 2010 $120,000
Aerodynamics Engineer Tesla Motors, Inc. Hawthorne, CA Aug 15, 2009 $120,000
Aerodynamics Engineer The Boeing Company Renton, WA Sep 19, 2010 $113,900
Turbomachinery Aerodynamic Engineer Sulzer Turbo Services Houston Inc. La Porte, TX Oct 01, 2014 $102,000
Steam Turbine Lead Aerodynamic Engineer General Electric Company-Infrastructure Schenectady, NY Apr 05, 2010 $96,000
Turbomachinery Aerodynamics Engineer Sulzer Turbo Services Houston Inc. La Porte, TX Oct 01, 2011 $95,000
Aerodynamics Engineer Zee.AERO Inc. Mountain View, CA Sep 09, 2016 $94,992
Aerodynamic Engineer Siemens Energy, Inc. Orlando, FL Oct 20, 2016 $88,941
Aerodynamic Engineer Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Allentown, PA Sep 02, 2012 $88,600
Aerodynamic Engineer Siemens Energy, Inc. Jupiter, FL Aug 20, 2015 $85,836
Aerodynamics Engineer Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Allentown, PA Jan 09, 2016 $83,970 -
$120,800
Aerodynamics Engineer Quest Global Services-Na, Inc. Jeannette, PA Feb 15, 2010 $83,000
Aerodynamic Engineer Honeywell International Inc. Torrance, CA Oct 07, 2013 $80,000
Aerodynamic Engineer Atlas Copco Comptec LLC Voorheesville, NY Nov 23, 2015 $75,965 -
$80,000
Aerodynamics Engineer Tesla Motors, Inc. Hawthorne, CA Sep 01, 2015 $75,000 -
$90,000
Aerodynamics Engineer 2 NMB Technologies Corporation CA Jun 01, 2013 $75,000 -
$78,000
Aerodynamic Engineer Siemens Energy, Inc. Charlotte, NC Oct 10, 2011 $71,386 -
$75,000
Motorsports Aerodynamics Engineer Ford Motor Company Allen Park, MI Sep 08, 2015 $68,557 -
$111,360
Aerodynamic Engineer (Engineer III) Elliott Company Jeannette, PA May 02, 2011 $68,198
Aerodynamics Engineer The Boeing Company Renton, WA Sep 16, 2012 $68,000 -
$122,000
Engineer, Aerodynamics and Aeroelasticity Ming Yang Wind Power USA Inc. Raleigh, NC Sep 06, 2013 $67,850 -
$83,000
Aerodynamic Engineer Siemens Energy, Inc. Jupiter, FL Nov 14, 2011 $65,770 -
$75,000

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Top Skills for An Aerodynamics Engineer

  1. Wind Tunnel
  2. Computational Fluid Dynamics
  3. Flight Test Data
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Wind tunnel testing: help prepare and conduct missile free-stream and separation wind tunnel tests as test engineer and data analyst.
  • Worked on aerodynamic performance and ice accretion analysis using computational fluid dynamics as well as analyzing aircraft performance.
  • Designed simplified data formats to enable photographic flight test data to be compiled and plotted by computer.
  • Presented data analysis and recommendations for aircraft/missile changes to upper level management and government agencies on this classified secret missile program.
  • Conducted X-31 wind tunnel and water tunnel tests and coordinated joint AF/NASA/Navy/Industry high angle of attack research efforts.

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Top 10 Best States for Aerodynamics Engineers

  1. California
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Virginia
  4. Texas
  5. Alabama
  6. Maryland
  7. Alaska
  8. Massachusetts
  9. New York
  10. Georgia
  • (1,748 jobs)
  • (146 jobs)
  • (687 jobs)
  • (775 jobs)
  • (133 jobs)
  • (307 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (303 jobs)
  • (493 jobs)
  • (298 jobs)

Top Aerodynamics Engineer Employers

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