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Become An Aerospace Engineer

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Working As An Aerospace Engineer

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

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $99,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Aerospace 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 Aerospace 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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Aerospace Engineer Career Paths

Aerospace Engineer
Systems Engineer Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Consultant Senior Software Engineer
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Superintendent
Operations Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Consultant Senior Systems Engineer
Manager, Systems Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Program Manager Executive Officer
Branch Chief
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Project Manager Engineering Director
Director Of Manufacturing Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Quality Manager
Quality Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Consultant/Project Manager Technical Manager
Technical Operations Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Engineer Senior Test Engineer
Test Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Team Leader Group Leader
Section Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Quality Assurance Engineer Quality Assurance Supervisor
Systems Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Liaison Engineer Product Engineer Project Lead Engineer
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Test Engineer Quality Assurance Lead Test Manager
Integration Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Design Engineer Project Engineering Manager Operations Project Manager
Deputy Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Aerospace Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Aerospace Engineer 5.0 years
Principal Engineer 4.9 years
Senior Engineer 4.3 years
Staff Engineer 4.2 years
Avionics Engineer 3.7 years
Engineer 3.3 years
Top Careers Before Aerospace Engineer
Internship 7.8%
Engineer 6.4%
Consultant 3.4%
Top Careers After Aerospace Engineer
Engineer 5.2%
Consultant 3.6%
Manager 2.8%

Do you work as an Aerospace Engineer?

Aerospace Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

80.1%

Female

11.8%

Unknown

8.1%
Ethnicity

White

59.4%

Hispanic or Latino

14.4%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

9.5%

Unknown

5.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

27.5%

French

20.0%

Russian

7.5%

Portuguese

5.0%

German

5.0%

Japanese

5.0%

Mandarin

5.0%

Arabic

5.0%

Chinese

2.5%

Romanian

2.5%

Cantonese

2.5%

Malay

2.5%

Hindi

2.5%

Polish

2.5%

Korean

2.5%

Italian

2.5%
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Aerospace Engineer Education

Schools

Georgia Institute of Technology -

12.0%

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

7.4%

University of Alabama at Huntsville

5.8%

University of Maryland - College Park

5.8%

Iowa State University

5.0%

Purdue University

5.0%

University of Texas at Austin

5.0%

University of Florida

4.5%

George Washington University

4.5%

San Diego State University

4.5%

University of Cincinnati

4.5%

Auburn University

4.5%

University of Washington

4.1%

Drexel University

4.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.1%

Johns Hopkins University

4.1%

North Carolina State University

3.7%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.7%

Texas A&M University

3.7%

University of Dayton

3.7%
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Majors

Aerospace Engineering

39.9%

Mechanical Engineering

23.4%

Business

6.5%

Engineering

4.4%

Electrical Engineering

4.2%

Systems Engineering

3.0%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.2%

Management

1.9%

Computer Science

1.4%

Aviation

1.4%

Mathematics

1.4%

Civil Engineering

1.3%

Finance

1.3%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.3%

Project Management

1.1%

Industrial Engineering

1.1%

Computer Engineering

1.1%

Supply Chain Management

1.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.0%

Computer Networking

1.0%
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Degrees

Masters

38.5%

Bachelors

38.3%

Other

10.0%

Doctorate

9.0%

Certificate

2.3%

Associate

1.5%

Diploma

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$99,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$71,000
Min 10%
$99,000
Median 50%
$99,000
Median 50%
$99,000
Median 50%
$99,000
Median 50%
$99,000
Median 50%
$99,000
Median 50%
$99,000
Median 50%
$137,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Torch Technologies
Highest Paying City
Palo Alto, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.6 years
How much does an Aerospace Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Aerospace Engineer in the United States is $99,171 per year or $48 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $71,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $137,000.

Real Aerospace Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Aerospace Engineer, Senior ADEX Aerospace, Inc. Anaheim, CA Nov 27, 2015 $159,224
Research Aerospace Engineer SGT, Inc. Fieldbrook, CA Jan 18, 2016 $155,002
Aerospace Engineer 559185 Ontario Limited Savannah, GA Jun 08, 2015 $149,760
Aerospace Engineer Zee.AERO Inc. Mountain View, CA Jan 08, 2016 $148,500
Aerospace Engineer Facebook, Inc. Menlo Park, CA Apr 07, 2016 $138,125
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. Bellingham, WA Jul 30, 2013 $136,802
Aerospace Engineer IV AAI Corporation Huntingtown, MD Mar 06, 2016 $130,000
Aerospace Engineer Zee.AERO Inc. Mountain View, CA Aug 01, 2013 $125,000
Aerospace Engineers Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Savannah, GA Sep 11, 2014 $124,426
Aerospace Engineers Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Savannah, GA Aug 19, 2014 $124,426
Aerospace Engineer Quest Global Services-Na, Inc. Riverside, CA Dec 03, 2016 $124,000
Aerospace Engineers Onward Technologies Inc. Rosemont, IL Aug 21, 2014 $123,011
Aerospace Engineer (Loads) CTS Technical Services, Inc. Savannah, GA Sep 01, 2014 $121,046
Aerospace Engineers Fastcol Inc. Miami, FL Aug 26, 2013 $120,931
Aerospace Engineer Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Dec 01, 2014 $105,477
Aerospace Engineer Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA May 01, 2013 $105,123
Aerospace Engineer Advanced Rotorcraft Technology, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 01, 2013 $105,123
Aerospace Engineers SGT, Inc. Fieldbrook, CA Oct 31, 2013 $105,123
Aerospace Engineers SGT, Inc. Fieldbrook, CA May 09, 2013 $105,123
Aerospace Engineers Volt Management Corp. Everett, WA Oct 25, 2013 $104,350
Aerospace Engineers Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO Aug 11, 2014 $104,000
Aerospace Engineers Advanced Technology Innovation Corporation Wrentham, MA Jun 21, 2016 $102,000 -
$115,000
Aerospace Engineers Cascade Engineering Services Inc. Redmond, WA Sep 13, 2013 $88,795
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. North Charleston, SC Jul 21, 2014 $88,421
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. North Charleston, SC Aug 04, 2014 $88,421
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. North Charleston, SC Jul 30, 2014 $88,421
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. North Charleston, SC Sep 05, 2014 $88,421
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. North Charleston, SC Aug 05, 2014 $88,421
Aerospace Engineers CTS Technical Services, Inc. North Charleston, SC Jul 31, 2014 $88,421

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Top Skills for An Aerospace Engineer

  1. Engineering Department
  2. Launch Vehicle
  3. Nasa
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participated on investigation panels for operational failures of launch vehicles (Challenger and Columbia).
  • Completed Preliminary Design Review and Critical Design Review with complete concurrence from NASA Engineering.
  • Validated an unstructured multiphysics solver on a variety of classic test cases.
  • Created Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) based engineering models of the F-35 main weapons bay.
  • Worked with team of civil servants, contractors, and academic resources to identify & reduce factors of error in measurements.

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Top 10 Best States for Aerospace Engineers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Virginia
  3. Georgia
  4. Maryland
  5. Louisiana
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Ohio
  8. Hawaii
  9. Colorado
  10. Alaska
  • (188 jobs)
  • (992 jobs)
  • (561 jobs)
  • (439 jobs)
  • (168 jobs)
  • (624 jobs)
  • (703 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)
  • (411 jobs)
  • (29 jobs)

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