What does an Aerospace Engineer do?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: July 14, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Engineer
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Are you curious to find out what an aerospace engineer does? It sounds like an exciting career with that word “space” thrown in there. So, if space excites you and makes you curious, a career as an aerospace engineer might be a good fit.

As an aerospace engineer, you will spend time working on spacecraft and aircraft. This can be rather exciting. You can be a part of space travel and flight with this type of career. Let’s look at a more in-depth description to answer the question, what does an aerospace engineer do, along with some of the qualifications for this job title.

What does an Aerospace Engineer do?

So, What Do Aerospace Engineers do?

The main job of an aerospace engineer is directing, testing, and manufacturing the prototype designs for spacecraft and aircraft. In addition, you’ll often work to improve existing crafts with new technology and equipment. Throughout the process, you will decide if the project is safe, evaluate the designs, create manufacturing methods, and inspect any malfunctioning products.

The most common tasks of an aerospace engineer include:

These are just some of the many duties of an aerospace engineer. If this sounds exciting to you, learning how to become an aerospace engineer is an important step.

Becoming an Aerospace Engineer

Finish High School

Since you will need to go on to college, finishing high school is a must. You want to take AP science and math classes during your years in high school. This is very important to ensure you can get into a good university or college program.

Maintain a high GPA and make sure you score high on the SAT or ACT. With the right test prep course, you can score very high on the ACT or the SAT. This will help to ensure you get accepted into a good university or college program.

Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

You will need at least a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering to enter into this career field. During your time in college, you will likely study the following subjects:

Plenty of mathematics and science courses can be expected. You will also take courses in mechanics and electromagnetism.

Getting accepted to one of the top colleges or universities for aerospace engineering can help ensure you have plenty of job opportunities. The top options across the country include:

If you get accepted into one of these aerospace engineering programs, you will likely gain more job prospects than other programs.

Get a Master’s Degree (optional)

You don’t need a master’s degree to work as an aerospace engineer. However, it can be rather helpful to open up opportunities. Some of the top employers prefer a master’s degree.

With a graduate-level degree, you will have better advancement opportunities. It’s also an opportunity to specialize if you prefer. For example, if you want to teach aerospace engineering, this is a good step to take.

Gain Additional Training

Entry-level aerospace engineering positions won’t require licensing. However, if you want to grow your career, more training is necessary. You can get training in many different areas. Working to earn a Professional Engineering license is a good place to start.

With a PE (Professional Engineering) license, you can manage and lead other engineers. This will require you to pass two exams, have about four years of experience, and hold a bachelor’s degree.

Common Aerospace Engineer Specialties

If you decide you want to specialize in a specific area of aerospace engineering, there are a few options. Usually, the two main areas include aeronautical and astronautical engineering. You might also decide to study thermodynamics, aerodynamics, flight mechanics, or celestial mechanics.

The astronautical engineer side of things works specifically with spacecraft carriers. They work to make these vehicles more efficient and help large and small satellites.

If you choose to become an aeronautical engineer, you will work to improve and design aircraft systems. In addition, you will research aerodynamics and apply your research to design and test new systems for aircraft.

With the right experience and specialty, you can earn a very high salary as an aerospace engineer. Therefore, it’s important to gain experience in the area you plan to specialize in. If possible, complete an internship in this area during college.

Frequently Asked Questions About Aerospace Engineers

What type of salary does an aerospace engineer earn?

As an aerospace engineer, you can earn a very nice salary. Entry-level positions usually start around $68K per year, while higher-level positions can pay more than $110K per year. The highest-paying positions in this field can pay more than $150K.

Your actual salary will depend on your education, experience, position, employer, and location. Some areas of the country tend to pay more than others.

The highest paying states for aerospace engineers include:

All of these states have an average salary of $120K or higher. Many other states have an average salary above $100K, too.

How long does it take to become an aerospace engineer?

You will need at least a bachelor’s degree to become an aerospace engineer. This will take four or five years to complete. It’s also necessary to gain some work experience. However, you can start in an entry-level position with just a degree.

If you want to manage or lead engineers, you will also need four years of experience. It will commonly take between four and six years to become an aerospace engineer.

Where do aerospace engineers work?

It’s common for aerospace engineers to work in manufacturing facilities, offices, and laboratories. Anywhere aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft are created, you will find aerospace engineers. You may work for private companies or the government.

It’s common for an aerospace engineer to spend quite a bit of time working with computers. Sophisticated software programs are a common part of the job, along with building virtual models.

Who hires aerospace engineers?

Many different types of companies hire aerospace engineers, including:

All of these types of companies employ aerospace engineers.

Is this type of career growing?

Aerospace engineering is a growing career, but it’s not growing very fast. Experts predict the growth for this job to be about 3% over the next ten years.

What type of schedule do aerospace engineers keep?

Most aerospace engineers will keep a regular 9-to-5 type of schedule. However, they will likely work at least 40 hours per week, often more.

Is it important to get a master’s degree to become an aerospace engineer?

It’s not required, but about one-third of aerospace engineers hold a master’s degree. With a master’s degree, you can earn a larger salary and advance faster to a higher-level position. Some employers require a master’s degree. If you decide to teach, you will need at least a master’s degree to teach at the university or college level.

Still Thinking of Becoming an Aerospace Engineer?

If you want to work on aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft as your career, this is the right field for you. The job of an aerospace engineer can be rather exciting, and it’s a high-paying career. As a result, many aerospace engineers are very happy with their career choice.

Joining this type of field will put you in high demand. If you want to enjoy your career and you love the idea of working on machines that fly, becoming an aerospace engineer is for you. Just make sure you do enough research to answer the questions fully; what does an aerospace engineer do?

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.