The Future Looks Bright
Best Jobs for Aerospace Engineering Graduates
If you have an aerospace engineering degree, you have a fascinating career waiting for you. You might be designing a new spacecraft, for example, or testing flight systems in fighter jets. This list goes through some of your career options as an aerospace engineering graduate. Salaries are accurate as of March 2021.
1. Commercial Aerospace Engineer
As the global population grows, more aircraft are needed to move people and cargo than ever before. People want to be comfortable, and cargo needs to stay secure. More aircraft means more fuel consumption, meaning more CO2 emissions that need to be managed. Aerospace engineers can solve all these problems. Commercial aerospace engineers work at major aerospace companies like Airbus and Boeing designing, testing, and manufacturing aircraft and their associated systems. This could involve designing aircraft prototypes and subjecting them to stress tests, for example, or investigating failed components on an aircraft. Whether you’re interested in design, research and development, inspection, or project management, there’s plenty of opportunity for you as a commercial aerospace engineer.
American aerospace engineers earn an average of $116,500 per year and have an expected job growth of 3% between 2019 and 2029.
2. Military Aerospace Engineer
The capability of any military is limited without planes. Militaries around the world need aerospace engineering graduates to maintain and manage military aircraft and its support equipment. If you’re interested in serving your country and are an aerospace engineering graduate, joining the military might very well be for you. As a military aerospace engineer, you might be responsible for designing, developing, and testing systems to be used on military aircraft, or maybe you’ll be supervising those who service, inspect, and repair these aircraft. If you choose to start a career as a military aerospace engineer, you’ll gain engineering experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
In the United States, an O-1 second lieutenant (the lowest rank on the officer monthly payment table) earns a minimum of $39,445 per year, which increases with experience and rank. O-6 colonels (the highest rank on the officer monthly payment table) earns a minimum of $83,174 per year. The military is also always looking for new members, especially for those with engineering degrees, meaning that there is plenty of opportunity and job security for aerospace engineering graduates.
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3. Spacecraft Engineer
Humanity’s exploration of space (the final frontier), is reliant on increasingly powerful spacecraft and equipment. Engineering challenges are quite different in space than they are on Earth, so it takes a special kind of engineer to solve these issues. Spacecraft engineers must have an exceptional ability to think outside the box and to design spacecraft that can withstand tough conditions. It can be very difficult to repair spacecraft while they are in space, after all!
If you become a spacecraft engineer, you could work on a project known by people the world over. Just think of the Mars Perseverance Rover, which landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, which will be used to look for signs of past life on Mars. What an incredible project to have your name attached to! As a spacecraft engineer, you might be working for a government agency such as NASA or the European Space Agency, or in the private sector for a company such as SpaceX. Because of the work that spacecraft engineers do, many spacecraft engineering jobs require you to be able to get a security clearance.
In the United States, spacecraft engineers earn an average of $73,710 per year and have an expected job growth of 3% between 2019 and 2029.
4. Aerospace Inspector
Because there is so much opportunity for something to go catastrophically wrong on an aircraft or spacecraft, anything an aerospace engineer designs must go through rigorous testing and inspection to make sure that it is safe to use. That is the role of the aerospace inspector. Aerospace inspectors go through blueprints and models to understand the inner workings of what they inspect, and they have to inspect and test equipment for quality control purposes. They must be competent in nondestructive testing, blueprint reading, mathematics, and physics to carry out their work.
Aerospace inspectors earn an average of $67,010 per year in the United States.
5. Design Engineer
When designing something in the aerospace industry, there comes a time when modelling on paper is no longer sufficient. It must be developed on a computer and then made into a prototype.
This kind of work is what design engineers specialize in. They are experts at computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). CAD and CAM programs take a lot of practice to master, and for some engineers, working with these programs is all they do. A design engineer can design a part or an airplane wingusing such programs from a drawing on paper. They can design something as small as a bolt or fastener, or something as large as an entire section of an aircraft. Design engineers are essential to the aerospace engineering industry. Sound interesting?
6. Technical Writer
Everything in the aerospace engineering industry is documented meticulously. Someone needs to write all the testing and inspection reports and the instructional guides needed when producing and operating aerospace equipment. An aerospace engineering graduate with a penchant for writing is well suited to being a technical writer in the this industry.
Technical writers specialize in distilling complex, technical information into something that is accessible to a wider audience. They write anything and everything technical such as instruction manuals, reports, standard operating procedures, and journal articles. This could include instructions on what to do if part of an aircraft fails in midair, or an inspection report for a government agency.
In the United States, technical writers earn an average of $72,850 per year. Their profession has an expected job growth of 7% between 2019 and 2029.
Aerospace engineers don’t just design airplanes. They also test, manufacture, and streamline airplanes and their associated systems. They work with anything required to become and remain airborne, including satellites, spacecraft, and missiles. Any aerospace engineering graduate has a fascinating career ahead of them, plane and simple.
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