Being an aerospace engineer is a technically challenging, but professionally and personally rewarding career. You can determine if you have what it takes to be an aerospace engineer by reviewing the education and employment requirements below.
See our ranking of the 30 Best Values for Aerospace Engineering.
Can You Cultivate these Skills?
Aerospace engineers are expected to have critical, strategic, technical and policy orientated thinking skills. They may need strong communication, public presentation, persuasive writing skills. Aerospace engineers must be effective at providing direction, training, and coaching to others. This type of work requires them to keep themselves organized and focused in environments with many priorities, distractions, and safety concerns. Aerospace engineers should excel at quickly adopting new technologies as well as working easily with technical peers and non-technical stakeholders.
Can You Earn an Engineering Degree?
If you want to know if you can succeed as an aerospace engineer, first consider if you can successfully earn a four-year bachelor's degree in professional engineering from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). The curriculum of these challenging degrees may include advanced physics and chemistry as well as differential and integral calculus. Engineering sciences will involve concepts like dynamics, hydraulics, fluid mechanics, electrical fields, soil mechanics thermodynamics and stress-strain relationships.
Can You Perform These Basic Duties?
Junior aerospace engineers will likely perform similar duties. For example, they may help determine test definitions, specifications, and variables. They may review and discuss test plans, proposed changes and preparation activities. Junior aerospace engineers may monitor live data, prepare briefings, identify non-conformances, make assessments and document design problems for long-term solutions. Junior aerospace engineers may apply applicable standards, project requirements and FAA regulations. Some will help senior engineers identify and evaluate interface performance using standard experiments and methodologies.
Can You Earn a Graduate Degree?
Anyone who wants to be an aerospace engineer leader and advance their aerospace engineering career should consider earning a graduate degree. This degree program may include classes in Aeroelasticity, Aerospace Propulsion, Planetary Entry, Applied Aerodynamics, and Orbital Mechanics. To illustrate, an Aerospace Propulsion class will explore the basics of rocket, electric and jet propulsion devices. This will include concepts like aerothermodynamics, electromagnetic thrusters and specific fuel consumption. A class in Planetary Entry may cover topics like aerobraking, landing systems, vehicle design, and navigation controls.
Will You Excel in this Position?
A competent aerospace engineer may conduct research to discover facts, performs research, investigate problems and apply standard engineering theories and principles. They usually plan and oversee personnel performing experiments that test, prove or modify theoretical proposals. This means that they will evaluate the findings to develop new concepts, tools, products, equipment, processes, and applications. They may be asked to design procedures and establish research methodology to solve problems. They provide scientific direction and interpretation to non-technical staff.
If you can successfully earn the degree and perform the job duties, then an aerospace engineer career may be the perfect job for you. NASA offers an overview of their aerospace engineering jobs here.