Is Aerospace Engineering a Good Career Path?
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When it comes to pursuing a career in engineering, there are numerous options, including aerospace engineering. However, a few stand out above the rest in terms of scope and endurance in this sea of options. A degree in engineering gives you a leg up in your career and the potential for a more promising future. It is estimated that the aerospace engineering industry is worth billions of dollars worldwide.
The scope and development of a career field are essential considerations when deciding on one’s future professional endeavors. It is the combination of skill and dedication that is required to achieve success in one’s career. In engineering, aerospace engineering is one of the newest and most exciting fields. Aeronautics, as well as other components of the sky-based economy, are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Engineers in the aerospace industry have to work around some of the most advanced technology in the industry. It necessitates a high level of expertise in engineering technology. The industrial aspect of the industry and the aspirational entities within it both have enormous growth potential.
This article is a comprehensive guide on everything you need to get started in aerospace engineering.
What do Aerospace Engineers Do?
Aeronautical and astronautical engineering are the two most common specializations for aerospace engineers.
The following is a typical list of tasks performed by aerospace engineers:
- In charge of all aspects of aircraft and aerospace product development, production, and inspection
- Determine if a proposed project is technically and financially viable.
- Examine proposed projects to see if they’ll lead to secure operations that achieve the predetermined objectives
- Products must meet engineering principles, customer needs, and environmental regulations when designed.
- Set up acceptance criteria for design methods, quality standards, and post-delivery sustainability.
- Ensure that projects are up to standard in terms of quality
- Inspect defective or damaged products to find out what’s wrong and what can be done to fix it
Aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft may benefit from new technologies developed by aerospace engineers. Aerospace engineers may specialize in aerodynamic fluid flow, structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, robotics, and propulsion and combustion.
Commercial and military planes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, such as launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets can all be designed by aerospace engineers.
In addition to their primary focus on aerodynamics and thermodynamics, aerospace engineers often specialize in various related fields, including materials science, celestial mechanics, flight dynamics, rocket propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems, among others.
Why Pursue a Degree in Aerospace Engineering?
To begin with, let’s talk about the aeronautics degree and why you’d want to get one.
Students who are fascinated by aircraft and their engineering are more likely to major in aeronautics or aerospace engineering. Students who pursue these degrees can either become commercial or other aircraft pilots or focus more on aerospace engineering, and they can learn a wide range of new skills in the process.
In terms of salary, aerospace engineers make an annual median of $116,500, according to Payscale, while airline and commercial pilots make an annual median of $112,430. As a result, a career in this field is both challenging and extremely rewarding. Employees in the aerospace sector make more money on average per year than in nearly every other industry in the country combined.
In Which Industries of Aeronautics Can You Work?
As a general rule, aerospace professionals are experts in developing and testing aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. Professionals in aerodynamics, structural design, guidance, navigation, control, propulsion, and information systems develop cutting-edge technologies for use in aviation, defense, and space exploration. They also use computer-aided design software, robotics, lasers, and advanced electronics to keep the industry going. Pilot training is available for those who want to work in the aviation or aerospace industries. You’ve got so many skills. Where do you think you’ll find work? There are a lot of excellent options, such as:
- Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
- Scientific Research and Development Services
- Federal Executive Branch
- Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services and
- Navigational, Measuring, Electrometrical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing.
The Best-paying Jobs In Aerospace Engineering
Engineers and scientists who work in the aerospace industry typically earn the highest wages. Aerospace engineers make and design products, while scientists look for ways to improve their creation and ensure that missions continue to be successful. A few high-paying positions in the aerospace industry include:
- #1 – Aerospace Stress Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $94,000
Aerospace stress engineers play an essential role in aircraft design. One of their primary responsibilities is ascertaining the stresses and strains that various materials and structures undergo when subjected to high loads. In the context of aircraft and rocket structures, this is relevant.
An aircraft or rocket’s design will not be complete without stress analysis. Engineers have to ensure that the structure can withstand a specific high pressure from a specific weight. As a result, the plane won’t be allowed to take to the air.
- #2 – Spacecraft Systems Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $76,000
Engineers in the aerospace industry specializing in spacecraft systems design, construction, and testing are known as spacecraft systems engineers. They ensure that all of a craft’s subsystems work together to achieve its goals and safety standards.
Engineers specializing in spacecraft systems are involved in every stage of a spacecraft’s life cycle, from conception to deployment. These highly-skilled professionals must all understand a spacecraft’s structural and electrical systems, thermal control, power, and communications.
- #3 – Flight Test Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $88,000
Flight test engineers oversee the testing of a prototype aircraft or aircraft system in the air. They must plan the specific flight test phase and supervise the aircraft’s buildup to the correct configuration. Sensors and recording systems are correctly installed with the help of the instrumentation engineer.
Depending on the conditions and goals, the flight test engineer may be required to fly in the test aircraft. They might also be asked to devise methods for monitoring specific variables or a particular system during flight tests. On the other hand, this person has a great deal of expertise and training in this area.
- #4 – Astronomer
Average Annual Salary: N/A
Astronomers are specialists in the study of the cosmos and its inhabitants. The vastness of our universe necessitates that many astronomers specialize in a particular galaxy, star, planet, star-forming region, the Sun, or the search for life.
Astronomers play an important role in the aerospace industry’s overall mission of a spacecraft. These scientists can gather data and make observations from the ground, which they can then inform the rest of the team about the best way to carry out the mission. Researchers’ findings could lead to new inventions and processes in the future.
- #5 – Computer Scientist
Average Annual Salary: $104,000
Computer science is an essential part of aerospace. A computer science degree is required for the vast majority of NASA positions. As computer simulations and programming become the new standard for designing and testing aircraft, aerospace computer scientists can work in both fields.
Additionally, the military is looking for people with solid computer science skills. With GPS technology, homing and missile guidance systems, and earth-orbiting satellites that broadcast military information, computer scientists are in high demand.
- #6 – Thermodynamics Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $72,000
It is the job of a thermodynamics engineer to use one’s knowledge of thermodynamics to create new products or enhance existing systems. Thermodynamics is the study of how heat and energy interact. There is a wide range of responsibilities in this career path in aerospace.
If you’re working on a plane or a spacecraft, you’ll likely be doing a lot of thermal analysis to figure out when things are changing physically. That’s critical to ensuring everyone’s safety on board. Additionally, they may be in charge of developing and analyzing thermal management systems.
- #7 – Aircraft Design Engineer
Average Annual Salary: $84,000
Design engineers for aircraft interiors, primary or secondary structures, or mechanical systems are responsible for creating complex designs that satisfy safety criteria, ensure quality standards, meet FAA requirements, and keep projects on budget and on time.
Aircraft design engineers are responsible for drawing up plans and adhering to industry standards while working on aircraft designs. Depending on your client, you may need an eye for design to succeed in this position. Commercial, military, or cargo aircraft are all viable options, as is interior aircraft design.
- Mission Specialist
Average Annual Salary: N/A
Mission specialists are NASA astronauts who hold this position. All their training and knowledge are focused on a specific mission area, such as medical experiments or technical quests. All three of them work closely together as they travel through the air.
Mission specialists are one of the two categories of astronauts in the United States space program that were first established in 1978. Space shuttle or station crew work together to carry out the mission’s flight plan as efficiently as possible.
How to Get Started in Aerospace Engineering
Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree is typically required for entry-level engineering positions. To be eligible for bachelor’s degree programs, you must have a high school diploma or an equivalent. You may want to take algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus while still in high school because aeronautical engineering is math-heavy. Courses in chemistry, physics, and computer science are also relevant. In addition, English, history, and other humanities courses can help you prepare for college-level general education requirements.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering
Most aerospace engineers have a bachelor’s degree, according to O*Net Online. For example, BLS data shows that engineers can be trained in one branch and work in related fields. The first two years of bachelor’s programs in aerospace engineering are devoted to general education in science and engineering, while the final two years focus on aerospace theory and design. Courses in aerodynamics, advanced materials, control systems, and propulsion systems are all possible.
Step 3: Get a Job as an Intern
When possible, you should participate in an internship or a co-op program. They give you a chance to meet and interact with aerospace engineering professionals, as well as to observe the practice of the discipline in a real-world context. Some colleges have established relationships with aerospace and engineering companies, making it easier for students to land internships.
Step 4: Get a Job as an Aeronautical Engineer
Manufacturing companies, engineering services firms, and federal agencies are among the places where you can find employment. Aerospace engineers were projected to increase their workforce by 8% from 2020 to 2030. A combination of improving the design, technological advancements, retirements, and employee turnover was expected to drive the demand for engineers. But many of the manufacturing industries engineers work in are experiencing a decline.
Step 5: Obtain a License
You’ll need to get your license if you want to work as an engineer for the general public. Alternatively, you can apply for a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Each state sets its requirements, but they generally follow a four-step process. Completing an Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited undergraduate program, the FE exam, four years of supervised work experience, and the PE exam are prerequisites.
There are 110 questions on the FE exam. Engineers take the PE exam to demonstrate their mastery of various engineering specialties, such as civil, agricultural, or nuclear. Mechanical or electrical engineering could be a good fit for you. The National Council of Examiners gives the FE and PE exams for Engineering and Surveying.
The evolution of the aerospace industry is defining technology. A better and more advanced lifestyle for future generations, as well as an evaluation of our daily lives, will result from this new technology.
Demand for job openings in aerospace engineering is increasing in the global and cross-border market. There are also endless possibilities for technological advancements that will lead to even more job opportunities in this sector. It’s a great starting point for a digital enterprise that will change the aerospace industry and the world.
If you’re interested in a career in the aerospace industry, aerospace engineering offers various options. Degrees in Aerospace Engineering allow students to explore the frontiers of air, sea, and space travel.