Aerospace Engineer

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
High: $176,280.00
Average: $127,090.00
Average: $61.10

What they do:

Perform engineering duties in designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. May conduct basic and applied research to evaluate adaptability of materials and equipment to aircraft design and manufacture. May recommend improvements in testing equipment and techniques.

On the job, you would:

  • Direct aerospace research and development programs.
  • Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify design, according to customer engineering requirements.
  • Plan or conduct experimental, environmental, operational, or stress tests on models or prototypes of aircraft or aerospace systems or equipment.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to evaluate project design elements and propose improvements, if necessary.

Business skills. Meeting federal standards in aerospace engineering requires business knowledge, including commercial law. Project management or systems engineering skills also may be useful.

Communication skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to explain, both orally and in writing, the details of their designs. They may need to convey information to a variety of audiences, including nontechnical ones.

Interpersonal skills. Aerospace engineers often work on teams and must be able to interact with other types of engineers and with nontechnical team members.

Math skills. Aerospace engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other math in their analysis, design, and troubleshooting work.

Problem-solving skills. Aerospace engineers upgrade designs and troubleshoot problems to improve aircraft, such as for increased fuel efficiency or safety.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

92% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
88% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
79% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
78% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
78% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
77% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
77% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
76% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
74% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
72% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
72% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
69% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


100% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
78% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

75% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
72% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
72% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
67% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
67% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
72% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
72% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
72% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
72% Mathematical Reasoning  -  The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
69% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
66% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

73% Science  -  Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
71% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
71% Operations Analysis  -  Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
68% Mathematics  -  Using mathematics to solve problems.
66% Critical Thinking  -  Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Job Details

Direct design or development activities.
Test performance of electrical, electronic, mechanical, or integrated systems or equipment.
Create models of engineering designs or methods.
Prepare procedural documents.
Analyze design or requirements information for mechanical equipment or systems.
Direct quality control activities.
Maintain operational records or records systems.
Design systems to reduce harmful emissions.
Design systems to reduce harmful emissions.
Research design or application of green technologies.
Research engineering applications of emerging technologies.
Evaluate plans or specifications to determine technological or environmental implications.
Design electromechanical equipment or systems.
Evaluate designs or specifications to ensure quality.
Determine design criteria or specifications.
Investigate system, equipment, or product failures.
Inspect equipment or systems.
Direct design or development activities.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
98% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
95% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
87% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
85% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
84% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
81% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
81% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
77% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
75% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
73% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
80% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

97% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
89% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
88% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
87% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
84% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
84% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
84% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
83% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
83% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
82% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
76% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
75% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
75% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
70% Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People  -  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
66% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
65% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What Aerospace Engineers Do

Aerospace engineers
Aerospace engineers evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles.

Aerospace engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they create and test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.


Aerospace engineers typically do the following:

  • Coordinate and direct the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
  • Assess project proposals to determine whether they are technically and financially feasible
  • Determine whether proposed projects will be safe and meet defined goals
  • Evaluate designs to ensure that products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental regulations
  • Develop criteria for design, quality, completion, and sustainment after delivery
  • Ensure that projects meet required standards
  • Inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions

Aerospace engineers develop technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft. They may focus on areas such as aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation, and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; or propulsion and combustion.

Aerospace engineers may design specific aerospace products, such as commercial and military airplanes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, including launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets.

The following are the two common types of aerospace engineers:

Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. They work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Astronautical engineers work with the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere. This includes work on small satellites such as cubesats, and traditional large satellites.  

Work Environment

Aerospace engineers held about 63,800 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of aerospace engineers were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 34%
Engineering services 16
Federal government, excluding postal service 16
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 10
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 6

Aerospace engineers typically work in an office setting, often using a computer. They also may travel to meet with clients.

Work Schedules

Most aerospace engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Engineers may need to work extra hours to monitor progress and troubleshoot when problems arise.

Getting Started

Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree

How to Become an Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers
Aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Aerospace engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related field to enter the occupation. Aerospace engineers who work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance. Some types and levels of clearance require U.S. citizenship.


Aerospace engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field. High school students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take classes in chemistry, physics, and math.

Bachelor’s degree programs in engineering usually include classroom, laboratory, and field courses in subjects such as stability and control, structures, and mechanics.

College students may have an opportunity to participate in cooperative education programs or internships. Through partnership with local businesses, these programs allow students to gain practical experience while they complete their education.

Some colleges and universities offer a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree may allow an engineer to work as an instructor at a university or to do research and development.

Employers may prefer to hire graduates of aerospace engineering programs accredited by a professional association such as ABET. A degree from an accredited program is usually required to become licensed.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level aerospace engineer positions. Experienced engineers may obtain a Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows them to oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public.

State licensure generally requires a bachelor’s or higher degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, several years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on the PE exam.

Each state issues its own license. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.


Aerospace engineers who gain experience or who have additional education or credentials may advance into technical or supervisory positions. Those with leadership skills also may become engineering managers or project management specialists.

Job Outlook

Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,800 openings for aerospace engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Aircraft are being redesigned for less noise pollution and better fuel efficiency, which should help drive demand for aerospace engineers.

Technological advancements have reduced the cost of launching satellites. Demand for aerospace engineers is expected to increase as space becomes more accessible, especially with developments in small satellites that have greater commercial viability. In addition, continued interest in drones for certain uses, such as forest fire detection, may help to drive employment growth for these engineers.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Technology Student Association (TSA)

For more information about licensure as an aerospace engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit


For more information about current developments in aeronautics, visit

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of aerospace engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians run and maintain equipment used to develop, test, produce, and sustain aircraft and spacecraft.

Associate's degree $74,410
Architectural and engineering managers Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in the fields of architecture and engineering.

Bachelor's degree $159,920
Computer hardware engineers Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components.

Bachelor's degree $132,360
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians help engineers design and develop equipment that is powered by electricity or electric current.

Associate's degree $66,390
Electrical and electronics engineers Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor's degree $104,610
Industrial engineers Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $96,350
Materials engineers Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Bachelor's degree $100,140
Mechanical engineers Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor's degree $96,310
project management specialists Project Management Specialists

Project management specialists coordinate the budget, schedule, staffing, and other details of a project.

Bachelor's degree $95,370

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.