Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they create and test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design. They develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration, often specializing in areas like structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods. They also may specialize in a particular type of aerospace product, such as commercial transports, military fighter jets, helicopters, spacecraft, or missiles and rockets. Aerospace engineers may be experts in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, or guidance and control systems.
Most aerospace engineers work a standard 40-hour week. At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job. When this happens, engineers may work long hours and experience considerable stress.
Most Aerospace Engineers work indoors, in an office setting. Depending in the exact nature of the product or project, some outdoors work may be required. An example if this may be traveling to the test site to perform live product tests such as firing a rocket engine.
Since the aerospace industry is subject to intense international competition, engineers need to be continuously updating their skills. To be successful, they must be self-motivated, highly skilled professionals who thrive in a multiple priority environment.
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.
Students can prepare themselves for an engineering degree in high school by taking physics, electronics, and computers classes. For post-secondary education, it’s recommended that students attend universities which offer degrees in aerospace engineering or aeronautics engineering. Some schools offer aerospace as a subspecialty within mechanical, industrial or systems engineering programs.
With engineering degree in hand, as well as some work experience, students may consider registering as professional engineers with a state association.
The median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $113,030 in May 2017.
Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Aircraft are being redesigned to cause less noise pollution and have better fuel efficiency, which will help sustain demand for research and development. In addition, as international governments refocus their space exploration efforts, new companies are emerging to provide access to space beyond the access afforded by standard governmental space agencies.