what is an aerospace engineer?

Have you ever dreamed of helping mankind soar through the stars or fly across the world in hours? An aerospace engineer job lets you turn this dream into a career. As an aerospace engineer, you are responsible for the products used for spacecraft or aircraft. This complex job allows you to create the systems and equipment people use for flight. Depending on your job, you may do things like design, test, or build aerospace equipment. Aerospace engineers work on items such as satellites, aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. They also make and use the systems and software used to guide these items.

industries that employ aerospace engineers

This job is in demand in several different industries. Some aerospace engineers work for manufacturers who make aircraft. Others work for government agencies involved in space exploration. You can find jobs at companies that produce weapons, or you could even end up with a job in the military.

astronautical engineering vs. aeronautical engineering

The aerospace engineering field is divided into two subcategories. Astronautical engineering is engineering that focuses on spacecraft. Meanwhile, aeronautical engineering focuses on flights that take place inside the atmosphere. Many aerospace engineers participate in both categories, but some may specialize in a single field.

Would working as an aerospace engineer suit your interest? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an aerospace engineer role.

aerospace engineer jobs

average aerospace engineer salary

Due to the high amount of training required to perform this job, it pays a fairly high amount of money. Aerospace engineers earn an average of $100,000 per year. There is some variation in salary, so some people make as low as $70,000 or as high as $150,000. Even if you're one of the lowest-paid aerospace engineers, you still end up making well above the national average.

factors that impact your salary

If you're interested in earning a higher salary, there are several things you can do. First of all, pay close attention to who is offering the job. Large corporations tend to pay quite a lot. You earn more if you have the extra training and education needed to take on larger projects. Aerospace engineers also earn a higher salary when they work in these fields:

  • research and development
  • aerospace product manufacturing
  • federal government service
download our salary guide

types of aerospace engineer

Different aerospace engineers specialize in different fields. The field you work in will have an impact on the type of job you can get and the industry you work in. Some common specializations for aerospace engineers include:

  • aerodynamics and fluid mechanics
  • aircraft control
  • aircraft propulsion
  • composite materials
  • spacecraft engineer
  • structural dynamics and aeroelasticity
  • thermodynamics

People also categorize aerospace engineers based on whether they're junior or senior employees. Senior engineers often lead projects or work independently. Meanwhile, junior employees are aerospace engineers who work under a supervising engineer.

 aerospace engineer
 aerospace engineer

working as an aerospace engineer

This career can be both challenging and rewarding. Discover what you could expect if you work as an aerospace engineer.


aerospace engineer skills and education

To become an aerospace engineer in Canada, you typically need to follow these steps:

  • bachelor's degree: pursue a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related field. This typically takes four years to complete. Ensure that the program is accredited by a recognized accreditation body, such as the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB).
  • co-op or internship experience (optional but recommended): many aerospace engineering programs offer co-op or internship opportunities. Participating in these programs can provide valuable hands-on experience and enhance your employability.
  • professional engineering license: while not always mandatory, obtaining a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) license can be beneficial for career advancement. This typically involves gaining a few years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer and passing a professional engineering exam.
  • continuing education (optional): aerospace engineering is a dynamic field, and staying updated on the latest developments is crucial. Consider pursuing further education, certifications, or attending workshops to enhance your skills and knowledge.
  • networking and job search: connect with professionals in the aerospace industry, attend industry events, and join relevant associations or societies.

skills and competencies

Being an aerospace engineer involves a lot of mathematical, scientific, and technical skills. Depending on the job, your employer will need you to be skilled at several of these tasks:

  • computer coding: many employers request proficiency with computer programs like Python or Java.
  • CAD software: computer-assisted design programs, like AutoCAD, are essential tools for aerospace engineers.
  • mathematics: engineers use a lot of complex math, including differential equations, trigonometry, and calculus.
  • physics: as an aerospace engineer, your employer may need you to do tasks that involve computational fluid dynamics or other types of physics and mechanics.
  • team communication: aerospace engineers usually work as a team, so you need to be able to communicate well with others. Good engineers explain their ideas to coworkers clearly, and they treat fellow employees in a polite and professional manner.
  • problem-solving: troubleshooting and bug-fixing are common tasks, so you need to be able to solve problems. Good aerospace engineers can stay calm, identify issues, and propose fixes.
  • analysis: strong analytical skills are essential for aerospace engineers. You need to be able to think conceptually and consider things logically.

FAQs about working as an aerospace engineer

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about aerospace engineers.


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