Not everyone is fascinated with space and galaxies but those who do will find fulfillment in being an aerospace engineer. This is a dream job for some people. Having the ability to design space vehicles and develop them surely is a dream come true. You will never know, you might end up having a space craft named after you someday.
Aerospace engineers do not only work on space vehicles, they can also develop aircraft, missiles, rockets, helicopters and commercial airplanes. There are times when they also have to work with deep-sea diving vessels and high-speed trains. Under aerospace engineering, there is aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering which means that you will learn how to work with aircraft and spacecrafts.
What Does An Aerospace Engineer Do?
Engineers specializing in aerospace engineering mostly work in the aircraft industry so they are busy in designing and developing engines, electronic devices, communication systems and the other parts used in aircrafts. There are aerospace engineers that work in government agencies particularly the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense (DOD). Aerospace engineers who do not work under government agencies can work for companies with government contracts. They are tasked to produce equipment for missiles, rockets and spacecraft. There are those that work in commercial airline companies, consulting firms and research and development institutes.
Engineers focusing on aerospace engineering do not work alone. Often, they have to work with physicists and metallurgists to be able to come up with new and better materials to use. The team studies the materials and how the materials will react to different processes or conditions particularly intense speed and heat. After doing tremendous research work, aerospace engineers use the research material to create designs and develop it. This will be a long process of designing, developing and testing until the team finally gets it right.
Aerospace engineering overlaps with other engineering disciplines like electrical, mechanical and chemical so you can expect to learn these in your degree program. Moreover, there are specializations in aerospace engineering that you can choose. There are aerospace engineers that focus on structure design and framework. They merely focus on developing durable and strong framework and test it before other aerospace engineers can use it. There are aerospace engineers who are more interested in control systems including the automatic navigation equipment in submarines and the automated instrumentation landing systems in aircraft. Other specialization fields include thermodynamics, propulsion, celestial mechanics, acoustics, thermodynamics and fluid dynamics.
Becoming An Aerospace Engineer
To become an engineer specializing in aerospace engineering, you will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical, aerospace or astronautical engineering. The choice will depend on the major you prefer more. The bachelor’s degree will be completed in 4 to 5 years. However, aerospace engineers who want to specialize in specific aerospace engineering fields will have to pursue a master’s degree. This degree program will help engineers to be updated with the latest developments in aerospace engineering. In addition, the advanced training and education will boost your career opportunities and earning potential.
Once you earned your educational degree, it is time to work on your engineering license. The first license you can get is the Engineer In Training license. You can get this by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. After four years of work experience, you are eligible to apply for the Professional Engineer License. You must pass the examination to get the license. This license is very important in allowing engineers to render its services to the public. Also, there are employers that will only accept aerospace engineers with the professional engineer title.
The Career Of An Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers who have the experience and education can apply for managerial positions and as administrators. There are those that become sales engineers while some choose the teaching path. Your job will totally depend on what you want to be. However, it will pay to do some research on which aerospace engineering jobs are in demand are paid highly.
The employment outlook for aerospace engineers will grow a bit slower compared to the other occupations until 2014. There will be a decrease in demand for aerospace engineers working in the commercial aircraft industry. On the other hand, there will be an increase in new jobs thanks to military aerospace projects. Further, the slow growth in employment should not be a concern at all. By 2014, there will be aerospace engineers retiring which needs new aerospace engineers as replacement. Just a tip though, keeping up with the broad developments will be helpful in landing jobs compared to those who specialize in only one area of technology.
The work conditions of these engineers vary. Some work in quiet laboratories to do research, tests and studies while there are those that work in manufacturing plants and airfield. The work environment will depend on the job assigned to you. This is a full-time job, which means that you will be working 40 hours a week. However, you may be required to work longer if a project has a tight deadline.
The salary of aerospace engineers highly varies due to the education and experience. The location and type of job are other important salary factors too. Aerospace engineers earn as much as other engineers. The average starting salary for a bachelor degree holder is $50,993 a year. Aerospace engineers with a master’s degree can have a starting salary of $62,930 while those with a doctorate earn $72,529 a year as a starting salary.
The median salary is $79,100. The top 10% percent were earning more than $105,060 while the lower 10% only earns $49,640 or less. Most of the salaries are between $59,520 and $88,310. Aerospace engineers working for the federal government earns $81,830 a year. Those working in engineering related services earn $74,890 while those working in aerospace product and parts manufacturing earns $70,920 on the average.
Engineers of aerospace engineering receive great benefits too. Benefits include pension plans, paid holidays, paid vacations and health insurance. Compensation and benefits will vary from one employer to another.