Aerospace engineers are divided into two groups: aeronautical engineers working with aviation and astronautical engineers working primarily with spacecraft. In both cases, this type of engineering involves designing, developing and testing aircrafts, aerospace components and parts.
Specialty areas can include commercial airlines, helicopters and military planes, but the scientific fields of thermodynamics, aerodynamics and guidance and control systems also offer professional possibilities.
Aerospace engineers must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering to get started in the field. Engineering design programs and certificates related to product development or specialized science studies can enhance the credibility of a resume. Within engineering fields, more education often translates to higher salaries and more job opportunities.
Depending on training and ability, an aerospace engineer may work with research and development, mechanics, instrumentation, production, teaching or management to design, build and evaluate aeronautic projects.
Common tasks completed by aerospace engineers include:
Aerospace engineers often work independently as consultants or with the federal government, including the military.
The Bureau of Labor statistics expects a 10 percent growth rate in this field over the next decade. In 2006, the salaries for aerospace engineers ranged from $59,000 to $124,000 annually. Higher level degrees increase yearly income by at least $10,000 with each advanced degree earned.