Aerospace and Astronautical Engineering

If you have ever wanted to design and build airplanes, spaceships or missiles, then perhaps you might be interested in becoming and aerospace or astronautical engineer. Keep reading to learn about the career options and requirements for these fields.

Is Aerospace and Astronautical Engineering for Me?

Career Overview

Aerospace engineers create, modify and analyze airplanes, space shuttles and missiles. Astronautical engineers design and revise plans for spacecraft only. A strong background in mathematics is needed for both types of engineers. Aerospace and astronautical engineers usually have strong communication skills to make sure that plans are followed and modifications are properly implemented.

Employment Information

Aerospace engineers were projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to see a seven percent increase in job opportunities from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Aerospace engineers made a median annual income of $103,720 in 2012. Aerospace and astronautical engineers can advance to supervisor positions with enough experience. Although openings are usually limited, aerospace and astronautical engineers can work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

How Can I Become an Aerospace or Astronautical Engineer?

Undergraduate Education

Most engineering positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Engineering degree programs will prepare you for either graduate school or give you practical application skills, depending on what your goals are. A bachelor's degree program in aerospace engineering will give you the opportunity to take courses in aircraft stability, aerodynamics and engineering space systems. Astronautical engineering programs offer courses such as spacecraft propulsion systems, space mission design and space environment. Aerospace and astronautical engineering programs both include advanced math courses such as calculus.

Graduate Education

Some advanced engineering positions are only filled by applicants who have at least a master's degree in engineering. A master's degree in astronautical engineering gives you advanced training in rocket propulsion, space sensors and space navigation. Aerospace graduate degrees include course options including advance fluid dynamics and turbine engines. Master's programs prepare you to work in research positions for the government and development sectors of the space industry. Sometimes a graduate degree in business administration is useful if you want to become an executive in the aerospace or astronautical sector of the engineering industry.

Licensing and Certification

If you hope to work directly with the public, then it would be helpful for you to explore the requirements to become a licensed engineer. Most states require you to have relevant engineering experience, a degree in engineering and completion of a state-issued exam. Engineering certifications can also be helpful and give you additional job options or advancement opportunities.

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