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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

  • $100,449

    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.


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.


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.


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 jobs

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Aerospace Engineer Career Paths

Aerospace Engineer
Senior Design Engineer Chief Engineer Executive Officer
Assistant Director Of Operations
5 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Program Manager Deputy Program Manager
Branch Chief
9 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer Chief Engineer Executive Officer
Chief Of Planning
8 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Consulting Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Project Manager
Director, Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Chief Operating Officer Deputy Commander
Division Chief
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Senior Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Quality Assurance Quality Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Lead Technician Operation Supervisor
Operations Officer
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Project Manager Program Manager
Operations Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Engineering Director Consulting Engineer
Senior Electrical Engineer
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Systems Engineer Systems Administrator Project Engineer
Senior Manufacturing Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Mechanical Engineer
Senior Mechanical Engineer
11 Yearsyrs
Systems Engineer Project Engineer
Senior Project Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Quality Engineer
Senior Quality Engineer
11 Yearsyrs
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Aerospace Engineer Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • French

  • Chinese

  • Russian

  • Mandarin

  • Portuguese

  • German

  • Arabic

  • Italian

  • Greek

  • Albanian

  • Cantonese

  • Malay

  • Hindi

  • Polish

  • Korean

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Aerospace Engineer

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Aerospace Engineer Education

Aerospace Engineer

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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 -
Aerospace Engineers Recaro Aircraft Seating, Inc. Fort Worth, TX Jan 09, 2013 $88,192
Aerospace Engineers Recaro Aircraft Seating, Inc. Fort Worth, TX Jul 08, 2013 $88,192
Aerospace Engineers Aerometals El Dorado Hills, CA Jun 04, 2013 $88,109
Aerospace Engineer Cascade Engineering Services, Inc. Redmond, WA Jan 10, 2016 $88,006
Assistant Professor-Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Syracuse University Syracuse, NY Jan 04, 2016 $88,000
Aerospace Engineers SGT, Inc. Fieldbrook, CA May 09, 2013 $87,901
Aerospace Engineer Planet Labs Inc. San Francisco, CA Jan 20, 2016 $87,500
Aerospace Engineer Planet Labs Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 15, 2016 $87,500

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Top Skills for An Aerospace Engineer


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Top Aerospace Engineer Skills

  1. Launch Vehicle
  2. Safety
  3. Engineering Support
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).
  • Worked on active filtering for RF Transmitter/Receiver design of airborne safety equipment.
  • Provide engineering support during inspection, repair, modification and operation of aircraft propulsion systems.
  • Developed radiator that was tested by NASA and demonstrated advanced performance in extreme conditions.
  • Reviewed test procedures and plans for systems and software to ensure compliance with appropriate lab configurations and that corrections were performed.

Top Aerospace Engineer Employers

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