Aerospace Engineer Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of an aerospace engineer. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as an aerospace engineer.
Who is an Aerospace Engineer?
Aerospace engineers are in charge of creating incredible machineries, such as planes that weigh more than half a million pounds and spaceships that travel at speeds of over 17,000 miles per hour. They plan, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles, as well as manage their production. Aeronautical engineers work on planes, while astronautical engineers work on spaceships. Engineers in the aerospace industry create innovative technology for use in aviation, defense, and space exploration. Computer-Aided Design (CAD), robotics, lasers, and advanced electronic optics are frequently used to aid them. Aerospace engineers are usually found working in the aerospace industry.
Between aeronautical and aerospace engineering, there isn’t much of a distinction. Aeronautical engineering is more of a subset of aeronautical engineering than it is a separate discipline. Aeronautical engineers work on airplanes that fly within the atmosphere of the earth. They receive a fundamental education in arithmetic, physics, and chemistry, as well as advanced studies in propulsion, aerodynamics, sensors, power generation, and other scientific subjects. Aeronautical engineers and general aerospace engineers both study these issues, but aerospace engineers may work on spacecraft that travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Aerospace engineers study the areas described above, while astronautical engineers have different jobs. Their task is to design and build spacecraft that can operate both inside and outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. This encompasses bachelor’s-level topics like thermodynamics and quantum physics, as well as graduate-level topics like space navigation, rocket propulsion, and orbital mechanics.
To push the boundaries of what is possible, the human intellect has always looked to the sky. In this sense, these early visionaries could be considered the first aeronautical engineers, but they were likely substantially different from the ones we know today. Brilliant minds have planned and sketched several flying vehicles since the time of Da Vinci, but none have ever come to completion.
With the invention of the hot air balloon in the 1780s, the first humans went to the air. Since then, a crop of inventors have tried to develop a propulsion system for hot air balloons, and scientists and inventors have begun to study gliders to understand more about aerodynamics.
The Wright brothers made their first famous flight in 1903, and things only got better from there. During World War I, airplanes were largely employed for military objectives, but with advancements in aerospace engineering, the commercial air transport sector boomed. Since then, every aspect of air travel has progressed dramatically, from the creation of larger and more powerful engines to remarkable navigation systems and manufacturing materials.
Aerospace Engineer Job Description
Below are the aerospace engineer job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a job description for your employee. The employer can use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
As an aerospace engineer you are required to carry out all of the following tasks:
- Evaluate and enhance aircraft, system, and component performance.
- Assist with airplane assembling.
- Evaluate, change, and re-evaluate products.
- Determine the technical and financial viability of projects.
- Meet with clients to discuss budgets, timelines, and specifications.
- Investigate both theoretical and practical issues.
- Examine designs to ensure that they adhere to engineering principles.
- Ensure that designs fulfill client needs.
- Design, manufacture, and test methods are directed, coordinated, produced, and implemented.
- Determine if planned projects will result in aircraft and parts that are safe.
- Ensure that projects are up to par in terms of quality.
- Examine any products that are defective or damaged.
- Identify potential sources of problems and provide remedies.
- Conduct research and write reports, manuals, and documentation.
- Offer technical assistance.
- Evaluate proposals and design specifications.
- Perform data analysis and interpretation.
- – Strive to meet deadlines and completion dates.
Qualifications of an Aerospace Engineer
A bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related subject is often required for aerospace engineers. As a student interested in aeronautical engineering you should take chemistry, physics, advanced math, and computer programming, and computer languages in high school.
General engineering concepts, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics, and aerodynamics, which is the study of how air interacts with moving things, are among the courses covered in bachelor’s degree programs.
Some schools and universities combine with local businesses to create cooperative programs that give students practical experience while they finish their studies. Internships and cooperative programs allow you as a student to obtain useful experience while also funding a portion of your school.
As a student, you can enroll in a 5-year program at select colleges that leads to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree upon completion. As an engineer with a graduate degree, you can work as a university instructor or in research and development. The American Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits the aeronautical engineering programs in the United States.
Registrations, certifications, and licenses
Aerospace engineering licenses are not as widespread as other engineering professions, and they are not required for entry-level work. Later in your career, a Professional Engineering (PE) license can be obtained, allowing for higher levels of leadership and independence. Professional engineers are licensed engineers (PEs). As a professional engineer, you can supervise other engineers’ work, sign off on projects, and give direct services to the public. In most cases, state licensing is required for this job description, requirements for licensing includes the following:
- An ABET-accredited engineering degree
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
- At least four years of relevant professional experience
- A passing grade on the PE test (Professional Engineering).
After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can take the first FE test. Engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns are the terms used to describe engineers that pass this exam (EIs). EITs and EIs can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering test after satisfying the work experience criteria. Each state is in charge of issuing its own permits. Most states accept licensure from other states as long as the licensing state’s criteria are equal to or greater than their own. Several states require engineers to maintain their licenses by completing continuing education courses.
Advancement in your career
As an aerospace engineer, you may eventually rise to become a technical specialist or manage a team of engineers and technicians. You may even advance to the position of engineering manager or make a career change.
Skills in analysis
As an aerospace engineer, you must be able to recognize design elements that may fail to satisfy criteria and then develop alternatives to improve those elements’ performance.
Skills in handling Business
As an aerospace engineer meeting federal government criteria is a big part of what you perform as a duty and meeting these criteria frequently necessitates a thorough understanding of both regular business practices and commercial law. Project management and systems engineering expertise are also advantageous.
Skills in critical thinking and logical analysis
As an aeronautical engineer, you must be able to create designs that comply with government regulations and you must be able to determine why a design fails and this works by asking the correct questions and then coming up with a reasonable response.
Skills in mathematics
In your profession as an aerospace engineer, you employ calculus, trigonometry, and other complex math concepts for analysis, design, and troubleshooting.
Skills in problem-solving
As an aerospace engineer, you put your training to good use in solving problems encountered in the field.
Steps to Becoming an Aerospace Engineer
If you determined in high school that you want to pursue a career as an aeronautical engineer, there are measures you may take to get ready for this path. The following are some steps to follow after graduating from high school:
Senior High School
Concentrate extensively on advanced-level math and science studies, as these will serve as the foundation for the information you’ll need as an aerospace engineer. Along with those classes, you should look for advanced-level writing courses (good written communication is an undervalued talent in technical areas so work on earning one).
Also, concentrate on electives in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that will expand your expertise, such as computer science, engineering, robotics, and others. Getting an internship while still in high school may also be beneficial. It’s also critical that you start looking at the best engineering colleges in high school so you can figure out what you want to do with your life.
Once you’re in college, you’ll begin taking the fundamental subjects that every engineering degree requires. You will journey into technical writing and application-based learning by building on your math and scientific knowledge. Because engineering occupations are based on application and trial-and-error, you should expect to take college programs that will require you to solve problems and develop experiments. If you ever want to head a team of engineers, you might consider taking some management classes.
You’ll take more specialized classes in mechanical engineering or aeronautical engineering as you go through your program. Both aeronautical and astronautical fundamentals will be covered in these courses. Take this opportunity to consider the specialty you want to pursue. While declaring a specialization is not required for most programs, doing so allows you to focus on your field of study and obtain access to more niche opportunities, as all aerospace engineering programs are approved by ABET.
School for Graduate Students
You could pursue a master’s degree after completing your undergraduate degree. A more formal advanced education, more specialized courses, degree tracks, and more time to investigate an aerospace specialty are all advantages of these programs. This experience could help you prepare for a future in academics or set you apart from others applying for the same positions. In some situations, a graduate degree can help you get a higher-level job when you first start out in the area.
Relevant Work Experience
Some institutions will form partnerships with local firms to allow students to acquire hands-on experience while pursuing their degrees. While many aerospace engineering roles will demand years of experience, there will be entry-level opportunities available where you may get started and learn from others.
Most entry-level aerospace engineering careers do not require additional licensing. However, as your profession progresses, you may require extra training. For example, if you wish to advance your career as a leader in your company, you could pursue a Professional Engineering (PE) license. You have the foundational qualifications to lead and manage other engineers if you are a professional engineer. The following are the general conditions for obtaining a PE license:
- A bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
- A least four years of relevant work experience on the job
- Pass in the Fundamentals of Engineering test
- Pass in the Professional Engineering exam
- A bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
Note that the first exam, engineering fundamentals, can be taken soon after you graduate from college. Once you have the necessary job experience under your belt, you should take the professional engineering exam.
Where to Work
As an aerospace engineer you work in the following settings:
- Aircraft and components manufacturing businesses, as well as the guided-missile and space vehicle production industries.
- The Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Engineering and architectural service firms.
- Research and testing.
- Firms that make search and navigation devices.
An Aerospace Engineer Salary Scale
In May 2020, the median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $118,610. Half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount, while the other half earned less. The bottom ten percent made less than $72,770, while the top ten percent made more than $171,220.