Aerospace Is the Place to Find Engineering Work

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One of the best places to find an engineering job is as an aerospace engineer. Aerospace engineers work with aerospace electronics and mechanical aerospace to make sure that aerospace vehicles function properly. Aerospace engineers work with space vehicles, missiles, and aircraft by testing, designing, and developing them. They also function as overseers when these types of vehicles are produced.

Aerospace engineers do not just limit their work to space production, either. They may also work with specialized vehicles like deep-diving vessels or high-speed trains that actually operate by ''floating'' several inches above the tracks. There are also specialized aerospace engineers including aeronautical engineers, who work specifically on aircraft, and astronautical engineers, who work specifically on spacecraft.

What Does Aerospace Engineering Entail?

For most aerospace engineers, their work occurs in the aircraft industry. Usually, these types of engineers work with companies that make the parts used in aircraft operation. These parts could include electronic devices, communications systems, or engines. In some cases, aerospace engineers work for the government and organizations like NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), or the Department of Defense.

Beyond that, engineers may also work for the government indirectly, in that they work for companies under government contract to produce needed equipment such as spacecraft or missile parts. Still other engineers work for commercial airlines, participate in research and development for the industry as a whole, or they may consult either independently or with consulting firms. They can also work for universities and colleges as professors.

Working as a Team

No matter what their job is, aerospace engineers almost always work closely with others who specialize in other areas that dovetail with what they do. For example, metallurgists or physicists work on creating new materials for spacecraft that can withstand extreme heat and cold and which can also stand up to the extreme speeds used in space travel. Using this research, aerospace engineers develop designs and test these materials, making changes as they go, during the course of production for new space vehicles and technology. They may also supervise engineering technicians and drafters as they develop blueprints and other technology to provide models for new equipment under development.


Because aerospace engineering itself is a very broad and diverse field, most aerospace engineers specialize in one particular area. For example, some concentrate on developing new frameworks and structures and work to ensure that these frameworks can withstand the stresses of space including intense heat, cold, and pressure. They do this by testing the vehicles in wind tunnels that simulate what happens in space. By doing so, they can make sure that these types of vehicles are strong and can withstand the stresses they are going to undergo so that the personnel within them are safe.

Another type of aerospace engineering specialization is for control and guidance systems. These engineers work on the automatic guidance and navigation systems used in aircraft and in vehicles such as submarines. There are also many other areas of specialization in the field of aerospace engineering such as thermodynamics, acoustics, and propulsion. As they advance in their careers, many aerospace engineers specialize specifically in one phase of a process during equipment development, such as design. They may also specialize in a particular type of aerospace vehicle, such as the military fighter jet, commercial aircraft, or rocket.

Education and Training

To begin, aerospace engineers need to get their bachelor's degree in engineering. In some cases, entry-level aerospace engineering jobs can go to those who have degrees in the natural sciences or mathematics. In addition, many schools will allow you to specialize in a particular type of engineering even at the undergraduate level such as astronautical, aeronautical, or aerospace engineering.

Many jobs require that you get an advanced degree, such as a master's degree or PhD, to move beyond entry-level jobs. In addition, your education will be continuing throughout your career, because there will be continual technological advances that you must keep up with.


In most cases, engineers will need to be licensed by the particular state they work in; licensing is required when the work you do affects the property, health, or life of the public, or if you work for the public. Licensing requires that you have a degree from an accredited school, four years of job experience as an engineer, and that you have passed a state examination. In addition, you may need security clearance and/or must have passed civil service examinations before you can begin to work in government-level jobs.

Getting a Job

Depending on where you want to work, you can contact private industry employers such as commercial airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and those companies that make aerospace tools and parts to get a job. If you specifically want to work for the space industry, you can contact NASA for more information.

If you want to work for the government, you are likely going to have to apply through a civil service agency. Other employers, such as consulting firms or universities, allow you to apply directly through them. Your placement office at your school can also give you more information and advice on finding a job. Internet job sites, newspaper classifieds, and employment agencies also sometimes list openings for aerospace engineers. Professional journals also list job openings.

Job Outlook and Compensation

This particular field is very competitive and job turnover is quite slow. However, there will be needed replacements for those who retire or leave the field. If you keep abreast of the field in a broad sense, you are likely to have a better chance of both getting a job and of advancing through your career than you do if you specialize in one small area.

On average, yearly compensation for engineers with bachelor's degrees was about $51,000, while those with master's degrees earned about $63,000 as of 2005. Those with doctorates earned about $73,000 as of 2005.
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