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Become A Flight Test Engineer

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Working As A Flight Test Engineer

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

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $90,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Flight Test 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 A Flight Test 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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Flight Test Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

79.2%

Unknown

10.9%

Female

9.9%
Ethnicity

White

62.1%

Hispanic or Latino

13.7%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

8.2%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

22.6%

German

9.7%

Korean

9.7%

Japanese

6.5%

French

6.5%

Carrier

6.5%

Italian

6.5%

Indonesian

3.2%

Vietnamese

3.2%

Chinese

3.2%

Turkish

3.2%

Sundanese

3.2%

Dutch

3.2%

Czech

3.2%

Mandarin

3.2%

Cantonese

3.2%

Hokkien

3.2%
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Flight Test Engineer Education

Schools

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

13.4%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

7.6%

University of Washington

7.6%

Villanova University

6.4%

Wichita State University

6.4%

Purdue University

5.7%

Air Force Institute of Technology

5.1%

Texas A&M University

4.5%

University of Central Florida

4.5%

University of Southern California

4.5%

Pennsylvania State University

3.8%

Johns Hopkins University

3.8%

University of Phoenix

3.8%

University of Dayton

3.8%

University of Alabama

3.2%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

3.2%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.2%

Florida Institute of Technology-Melbourne

3.2%

University of Colorado at Boulder

3.2%

Seattle University

3.2%
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Majors

Aerospace Engineering

24.0%

Electrical Engineering

13.6%

Mechanical Engineering

11.3%

Business

9.7%

Aviation

7.6%

Systems Engineering

4.3%

Management

3.5%

Computer Science

3.5%

Engineering And Industrial Management

3.5%

Engineering

3.3%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.5%

Project Management

2.3%

Computer Information Systems

1.9%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.6%

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, And Research

1.4%

Industrial Engineering

1.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.2%

Computer Engineering

1.2%

Automotive Technology

1.2%

Elementary Education

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.7%

Masters

39.8%

Other

11.5%

Certificate

3.8%

Associate

2.3%

Doctorate

1.6%

License

0.2%

Diploma

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$90,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$57,000
Min 10%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Median 50%
$141,000
Max 90%
Highest Paying City
Duluth, MN
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Flight Test Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Flight Test Engineer in the United States is $90,116 per year or $43 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $57,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $141,000.

Real Flight Test Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Flight Test Engineer Ingenium Technologies Corp. Everett, WA Dec 12, 2012 $150,800
Flight Test Engineer Ingenium Technologies Everett, WA Jun 02, 2012 $150,800
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters, Inc. Grand Prairie, TX Nov 16, 2016 $131,248
Senior Dual Qualified Flight Test Engineer Instruc National Test Pilot School Mojave, CA Dec 01, 2012 $130,000
Flying Qualities Flight Test Engineer (Tsiii) Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Savannah, GA Jan 09, 2016 $128,000
Flight Test Engineer Precision Personnel, Inc. Savannah, GA Jan 10, 2016 $121,338
Flight Test Engineer Instructor National Test Pilot School Mojave, CA Jun 11, 2015 $120,848
Systems Flight Test Engineer Ingenium Technologies Corp. Rockford, IL Oct 01, 2010 $120,003
Systems Flight Test Engineer Ingenium Technologies Corp. Everett, WA Oct 01, 2010 $120,003
Flight Test Engineer Precision Personnel, Inc. Savannah, GA Apr 25, 2016 $119,502
Flight Test Engineer Precision Personnel, Inc. Savannah, GA Jan 01, 2015 $119,356
Flight Test Engineer CTS Technical Services, Inc. Savannah, GA Sep 10, 2015 $116,872
Flight Test Engineer Pacific Aerospace Consulting, Inc. San Diego, CA Jan 09, 2012 $114,785
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters, Inc. Grand Prairie, TX Aug 23, 2016 $109,949
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters Inc. Columbus, MS Jan 19, 2016 $109,949
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters, Inc. Grand Prairie, TX Aug 12, 2014 $107,016
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters, Inc. Grand Prairie, TX Sep 01, 2015 $107,016
Flight Test Engineer Pacific Aerospace Consulting, Inc. Dallas, TX Sep 04, 2012 $103,085 -
$105,000
Senior Flight Test Engineer Westar Aerospace & Defense Group Fort Rucker, AL Aug 14, 2009 $93,900
Flight Test Engineer TS-I Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation Savannah, GA Jan 19, 2015 $91,000
Lead Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer General Electric Company Victorville, CA Sep 02, 2015 $91,000
Flight Test Engineer American Eurocopter Corporation Columbus, MS Sep 20, 2013 $90,189
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters Inc. Columbus, MS Sep 06, 2014 $90,000 -
$95,000
Flight Test Engineer Airbus Helicopters Inc. Columbus, MS Mar 24, 2014 $90,000 -
$95,000
SR. Flight Test Engineer Westar Aerospace and Defense Group Fort Rucker, AL Apr 27, 2009 $89,000
Lead Flight Test Engineer Cyient, Inc. Arlington, TX Oct 27, 2016 $88,213
Flight Test Engineer Rolls-Royce Corporation Seattle, WA May 16, 2016 $83,093

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Top Skills for A Flight Test Engineer

  1. Flight Test Plans
  2. Test Cases
  3. Service Aircraft
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Generated/executed flight test plans to evaluate new aircraft or modifications to existing aircraft.
  • Create and lead master test plans, test cases and test schedules.
  • Design, Coordinate and Integrate all avionics/electrical and dynamic system modifications and processes regarding the recapitalization program of OEM aircraft.
  • Evaluated the fully integrated glass-cockpit avionics operations and software modifications, pilot workload, and FAA certification requirements.
  • Worked within the Flight Test program, which was responsible for testing the reliability and safety of a newly developed airplane.

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Top 10 Best States for Flight Test Engineers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Virginia
  3. Texas
  4. Maryland
  5. Alabama
  6. Massachusetts
  7. California
  8. Minnesota
  9. Colorado
  10. Georgia
  • (212 jobs)
  • (1,191 jobs)
  • (1,085 jobs)
  • (635 jobs)
  • (234 jobs)
  • (590 jobs)
  • (3,202 jobs)
  • (263 jobs)
  • (533 jobs)
  • (399 jobs)

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