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Aerospace Engineer


How to become an Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace Engineer Job Duties
Skills and Qualities needed to become an Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace Engineer Salaries
Influential Aerospace Engineering Professionals
Leading Aerospace Engineering Organizations
Top Cities for Aerospace Engineering Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Aerospace Engineer

For an entry level aerospace position, an engineering undergraduate degree is usually required, preferably in the area or with an emphasis in aerospace. Sometimes, an applicant with a natural sciences or mathematics degree may get an entry level job, but that is not nearly as common. The curriculum for engineers at colleges and universities tends to be a highly regimented one with requirements not only for what courses must be taken, but what sequence they must be taken in and in specific combinations. The curriculum emphasis is on math, the specific engineer field and other hard sciences. Students often take an extra year to complete their degrees due to the rigor of the programs, and like other engineering programs, there are always a few areas that pose consistent and high levels of difficulty for students.

Although a person could become a part of an engineering firm or work in a corporate department and be considered an aerospace engineer in general, the formal engineering designation is Professional Engineer (PE), which means that one is licensed by a particular state to offer their services directly to the public. In other words, the role of an engineer is broad, but the title of "engineer" is specific. To become a PE, there are a number of requirements, including graduating with an undergraduate degree from a specially program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), four years of experience, and an exam. There are two stages of becoming a PE, each categorized by passing exams. Upon completion of the first exam, (Fundamentals of Engineering), the PE candidate is called an "engineer in training" or "engineer intern". The second exam (Principles and Practice of Engineering) is usually only able to be taken after some years of work experience. Site licensing varies and some states require continuing education while others do not. Independent from state and other governmental regulators, there are other professional organizations that offer certification in special areas of engineering.

What does an Aerospace Engineer do?

Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different and some of them overlap quite a bit.

Aerospace engineers work with technology related to airplanes, spacecraft and rockets/missiles. This area of engineering can be more specifically defined, as an aeronautical engineer works specifically with aircraft and an astronautical engineer works with spacecraft. These sub divisions can be even further specified as a aeronautical engineer could focus on helicopters or military aircraft, etc. Aerospace engineer research is used for development of the physical and structural parts of various craft, navigation and guidance systems, communication technologies and craft/vessel manufacturing. Since engineering is all about applied science, there can be a heavy emphasis on testing, production and maintenance as well as performing design work and general research, as it is a part of the job to find and implement more efficient or safer manufacturing techniques.

What skills or qualities are needed to excel in Aerospace Engineering?

Engineers must, of course, be able to complete all the necessary educational and professional requirements to become engineers at all. This indicates an intelligence type that is analytical, detail oriented and inquisitive. Creativity is also a necessary trait. Interpersonal skills are also highly necessary, as aerospace engineers almost always work with teams and other departments. Language - spoken and written - are also necessary due to not only the teaming aspect of an aerospace engineer's job but also because of the necessity to communicate findings, present recommendations, etc. in written form.

Aerospace engineers must also be highly informed about their particular industry, industry trends (especially nowadays with troubles besetting the aerospace industry from all angles) how it works, how every part of the manufacturing, testing and design processes work and also how all of these affect the environment and the safety of workers and/or individual people.

How much do Aerospace Engineers make?

As of May 2007, the average wage for an aerospace engineer was about $90,000. The annual salary ranged from $60,000 - $129,000. With regard to industry variations, aerospace product and parts manufacturing companies tended to employ the largest numbers of aerospace engineers and research and development facilities employed the fewest. Consultants in this area made the most money per year, while, again, the research and development engineers made the least.


Who are some influential Professionals in this field?

For a good picture on who is leading the industry today, a good place to start is to review the biographies of the leadership, board members and advisors to the organizations below and other leading aerospace companies, like Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Without a doubt, the most influential individuals with regards to airplanes and flight have to be the Wright brothers. Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited with inventing the airplane.

Who are some leading Aerospace organizations?

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics - US professional organization for aerospace engineering

National Academy of Engineering - US organization that aims to promote knowledge and synergy in the engineering community

International Academy of Astronautics - international organization that focuses on fostering astronautical development for peaceful purposes

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

ABET - Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Oversees accreditation of college and university engineering programs.

National Society of Professional Engineers - Primary national professional organization for PEs across all disciplines.

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying - national organization composed of licensing boards from all US states and territories.

For a lists of state boards, visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's website.

What are the top cities for Aerospace Engineering Jobs?

By and large, the Seattle Washington, area is a major employment location for aerospace engineers, with major Boeing presence and some Lockheed astronautical facilities there. As a state, California employed a very large number of aerospace engineers, partly due to three separate NASA facilities. Houston Texas and Wichita Kansas are large employers of Aerospace Engineering professionals as well.

Other Careers of Interest

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