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Master's in Aerospace Engineering: Career and Salary Facts

Read on to learn about the professional Master of Aerospace Engineering program as well as an option resulting in a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Get relevant career and salary info for program graduates, too.

What is Aerospace Engineering?

Aerospace engineering encompasses aeronautics (the science of flight) and astronautics, the study and construction of vehicles for working and traveling in space. Aerospace engineers research, design and develop aircraft and spacecraft. Although you can begin a career as an aerospace engineer with a bachelor's degree, a master's degree can likely help you further your career goals. The table below contains important details about becoming an aerospace engineer.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum, master's for additional career opportunities
Education Field of Study Aerospace engineering or related engineering discipline
Key Duties Design and construction of jets, rockets and other spacecrafts
Job Growth (2018-2028) 2%*
Mean Salary (2018) $117,100*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Type of Master's Degrees in Aerospace Engineering Are Available?

The Master of Aerospace Engineering is a professional degree that you should pursue if you do not plan on continuing your education, but want become more knowledgeable in a component of aerospace engineering. Some universities give you the option to complete this degree with a thesis, directed project or comprehensive exam.

If you plan to continue your studies, a more research-oriented degree may be right for you. The Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering program may require a thesis paper and additional research courses. Some schools offer this as a combined master's degree and Ph.D. program.

Many aerospace engineering programs allow you to concentrate on a component of aerospace engineering--such as fluids, controls or structures--and some universities even encourage you to design a program that fits your career interests. No matter the type of program you choose, you take courses in fluid mechanics, space technology, aerodynamics, propulsion, applied mathematics and material strengths.

What Are the Jobs Like?

Aerospace engineers typically work in teams, and each team member takes on a specific role. As an aerospace engineer, your role could be to design or build missiles, satellites, airplanes or rockets; or, you could take on a role testing these items to make sure they work properly. You could be the engineer that develops the software to communicate with the satellite or rocket or the systems engineer that makes sure that all systems corroborate.

Jobs in aerospace engineering can be found in government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the military or private aerospace companies. Because these employers develop and manufacture items for national security, special clearances may be required.

How Much Could I Earn?

In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average annual wage for an aerospace engineer in the U.S. was $117,100. BLS data showed that private industry paid more than the government, and the aerospace products and parts manufacturing industry employed the highest number of aerospace engineers (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are several related engineering jobs that require at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree would prove beneficial. A few of these positions include mechanical, industrial and computer hardware engineers. In general, mechanical engineers develop and test various mechanical devices. It is a broad field of engineering that allows many specializations. Industrial engineers improve the efficiency of different production processes. This could include modifying the actions of workers, adjusting machines and more. Computer hardware engineers test and develop computer systems and help advance technology.