What Does An Aerospace Engineer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace Engineers 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.

Salary
$121110
Becoming One
Hard
Education
Bachelor's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Aerospace Engineers 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.

  • Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify the 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.
  • Formulate conceptual design of aeronautical or aerospace products or systems to meet customer requirements or conform to environmental regulations.
  • Plan or coordinate investigation and resolution of customers’ reports of technical problems with aircraft or aerospace vehicles.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Aerospace Engineers direct or coordinate activities of engineering or technical personnel involved in designing, fabricating, modifying, or testing aircraft or aerospace products. They diagnose performance problems by reviewing reports or documentation from customers or field engineers or by inspecting malfunctioning or damaged products.

A typical day for an Aerospace Engineer will also include:

  • Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify design, according to customer engineering requirements.
  • Direct aerospace research and development programs.
  • Evaluate product data or design from inspections or reports for conformance to engineering principles, customer requirements, environmental regulations, or quality standards.
  • Analyze project requests, proposals, or engineering data to determine feasibility, productibility, cost, or production time of aerospace or aeronautical products.
  • Formulate conceptual design of aeronautical or aerospace products or systems to meet customer requirements or conform to environmental regulations.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Aerospace Engineers also plan or coordinate investigation and resolution of customers’ reports of technical problems with aircraft or aerospace vehicles. They may also develop design criteria for aeronautical or aerospace products or systems, including testing methods, production costs, quality standards, environmental standards, or completion dates.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Aerospace Engineers evaluate product data or design from inspections or reports for conformance to engineering principles, customer requirements, environmental regulations, or quality standards. They might also design new or modify existing aerospace systems to reduce polluting emissions, such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, or smoke emissions.

In addition, they write technical reports or other documentation, such as handbooks or bulletins, for use by engineering staff, management, or customers.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them maintain records of performance reports for future reference.

To some Aerospace Engineers, it is also their responsibility to review aerospace engineering designs to determine how to reduce negative environmental impacts.

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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

High

Is this job meaningful

High

71% said they were satisfied with their job and 64% said they found their job meaningful.


Ludovic Chung-Sao
An aircraft engine manufacturer

I worked as an Aeronautic Engineer for 7 years. I was Mechanical Design and Certification Engineer for parts on Engines for Civil Aircrafts such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

My typical workday was full of meetings. I oversaw a large scope of engine parts. It required me to attend any meetings that were directly or indirectly related to my scope of parts. Those meetings were generally addressing issues in fleets or projects on new parts.

Daily, to solve those potential issues encountered in the fleet or to improve an existing design in terms of cost or weight, I managed the design of new parts. The design phase is very interactive as I had to discuss with part manufacturers, the design team, the material department. During this design phase, it’s important that the part is manufacturable, optimized in terms of weight and material choice, and that it fulfills specific requirements coming from the Aviation Authorities. Those specific requirements sometimes lead to specific part testing. In that case, I was planning the test, the facilities, the budget, the planning.

Another important aspect of part design was the mechanical sizing. Almost every day I was managing that all our new designs were compatible with the mechanical and thermal loads seen in operations. For example, I had to make sure a part would withstand vibration loads and temperatures seen during a flight.

Pros

  • The diversity of interlocutors. Throughout the design development, my role was very interactive. I could discuss with other designers, material specialists, mechanical specialists, manufacturers, the quality department, certification authorities, and the assembly teams.
  • Learning every day. As said above, I had the chance to be in contact with so many different profiles. On a daily basis and with enough curiosity you can learn their job. In return, it can open new job opportunities if you want to switch to a new path in the future.
  • Aeronautic is fulfilling. Most of the people working in the field of Aeronautics are passionate about aviation. It’s a very nice environment to evolve if you also share this passion for the sky.
  • Moreover, if you’re lucky to work on an end product, it’s very gratifying to be able to see the part produced and eventually installed on an aircraft.

Cons

  • The environment can be very stressful. The ever-growing number of aircrafts is giving manufacturers a lot more pressure to answer short deadline questions. When during an inspection an airline observes something about a part and awaits the response from the design engineers to say if it’s acceptable, it can be stressful for the design team to give an answer in such a short amount of time.
  • Aeronautic is a big industry. Like Automotive, Aeronautic is an industry that involves very big companies. This leads to big organizations with a lot of inertia. High inertia is very inherent to big organizations. It can be seen as a con. But I think it’s a necessity to ensure all processes are respected and parts produced are safe for operation.

Ludovic Chung-Sao
Ludovic has been an Aeronautic Engineer for 7 years and also runs ZenSoundproof.com.


Pros

Suitable for people who like to solve problems mentally.

Suitable for people who wants job security and a good working condition.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

One of the highest-paid careers in the world.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

How much do they make

Average salary

$121110 per year

Average hourly wage

$58 per hour

Entry-level Aerospace Engineers with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $72,770 to $91,480 per year or $35 to $44 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $171,220 $82
Senior (Top 25%) $148,570 $71
Median $118,610 $57
Junior (Bottom 25%) $91,480 $44
No experience (Bottom 10%) $72,770 $35

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Aerospace Engineers based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Technical and Trade Schools $134830 $64.82
Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing $129480 $62.25
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services $127570 $61.33
Scientific Research and Development Services $127090 $61.10
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing $125110 $60.15
Federal Executive Branch $124110 $59.67
Management of Companies and Enterprises $122840 $59.06
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services $120410 $57.89
Computer Systems Design and Related Services $119400 $57.40
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing $118860 $57.14

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Aerospace Engineers work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Aerospace Engineers including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing 21000 $118860 $57.14
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services 11430 $120410 $57.89
Federal Executive Branch 9460 $124110 $59.67
Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing 5360 $129480 $62.25
Scientific Research and Development Services 4740 $127090 $61.10
Management of Companies and Enterprises 1810 $122840 $59.06
Support Activities for Air Transportation 1740 $109050 $52.43
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 1150 $127570 $61.33
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 930 $119400 $57.40
Employment Services 820 $112500 $54.09

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
0%

40 hours
40%

More than 40 hours
60%

Working schedule

74%

25%

1%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
100%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
25%

Every day
64%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
5%

Every day
93%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
9%

Once a year
51%

Once a month
31%

Once a week
5%

Every day
3%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
16%

Slightly competitive
6%

Moderately competitive
58%

Highly competitive
20%

Extremely competitive
0%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
0%

Once a year or more
1%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
16%

Every day
82%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
30%

Once a year or more
25%

Once a month or more
2%

Once a week or more
29%

Every day
13%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
69%

Once a year or more
17%

Once a month or more
3%

Once a week or more
11%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
61%

Once a year or more
14%

Once a month or more
13%

Once a week or more
12%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Hard
You will need a considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require a Bachelor’s degree and several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training. Similar careers include Database Administrators, Chemists, Art Directors, and Accountants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
8%

Bachelor’s Degree
59%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
33%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Mechanical Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of physical systems used in manufacturing and end-product systems used for specific uses, including machine tools, jigs and other manufacturing equipment; stationary power units and appliances; engines; self-propelled vehicles; housings and containers; hydraulic and electric systems for controlling movement; and the integration of computers and remote control with operating systems.

Electrical and Electronics Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of electrical and electronic systems and their components, including electrical power generation systems; and the analysis of problems such as superconductor, wave propagation, energy storage and retrieval, and reception and amplification.

Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical/Space Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of aircraft, missiles, space vehicles, and their systems; applied research on flight and orbital characteristics; and the development of systems and procedures for the launching, guidance, and control of air and space vehicles.


Astronautical Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development, and operational evaluation of aircraft and space vehicles. Includes instruction in control systems, fluid dynamics, electrical circuits systems, orbital mechanics, propulsion, remote sensing, satellites, spacecraft centers, spacecraft systems engineering, and space exploration.

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
7%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
7%

1 to 2 years
9%

2 to 4 years
32%

4 to 6 years
20%

6 to 8 years
8%

8 to 10 years
10%

Over 10 years
7%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
0%

1 month
26%

1 to 3 months
8%

3 to 6 months
8%

6 months to 1 year
34%

1 to 2 years
17%

2 to 4 years
0%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
7%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Thinker

People with this personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.

The Builder
81%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
100%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
52%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
19%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
33%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
43%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
71%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
79%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
76%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
62%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
71%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
76%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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