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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnxcib-8S4s.
Quick Facts: Aerospace Engineers
2022 Median Pay $126,880 per year
$61.00 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 63,800
Job Outlook, 2022-32 6% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 3,900

What Aerospace Engineers Do

Aerospace engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles.

Work Environment

Aerospace engineers typically work in an office setting, often using a computer. Most work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related field to enter the occupation. Aerospace engineers who work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance.

Pay

The median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $126,880 in May 2022.

Job Outlook

Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,800 openings for aerospace engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for aerospace engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of aerospace engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about aerospace engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Aerospace Engineers Do About this section

Aerospace engineers
Aerospace engineers evaluate designs to see that the products meet engineering principles.

Aerospace engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they create and test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Duties

Aerospace engineers typically do the following:

  • Coordinate and direct the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft and aerospace products
  • Assess project proposals to determine whether they are technically and financially feasible
  • Determine whether proposed projects will be safe and meet defined goals
  • Evaluate designs to ensure that products meet engineering principles, customer requirements, and environmental regulations
  • Develop criteria for design, quality, completion, and sustainment after delivery
  • Ensure that projects meet required standards
  • Inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to identify sources of problems and possible solutions

Aerospace engineers develop technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and spacecraft. They may focus on areas such as aerodynamic fluid flow; structural design; guidance, navigation, and control; instrumentation and communication; robotics; or propulsion and combustion.

Aerospace engineers may design specific aerospace products, such as commercial and military airplanes and helicopters; remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft; spacecraft, including launch vehicles and satellites; and military missiles and rockets.

The following are the two common types of aerospace engineers:

Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They are involved primarily in designing aircraft and propulsion systems and in studying the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. They work with the theory, technology, and practice of flight within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Astronautical engineers work with the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere. This includes work on small satellites such as cubesats, and traditional large satellites.  

Work Environment About this section

Aerospace engineers
Aerospace engineers work in industries that build aircraft and often help oversee construction.

Aerospace engineers held about 63,800 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of aerospace engineers were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 34%
Engineering services 16
Federal government, excluding postal service 16
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 10
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 6

Aerospace engineers typically work in an office setting, often using a computer. They also may travel to meet with clients.

Work Schedules

Most aerospace engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Engineers may need to work extra hours to monitor progress and troubleshoot when problems arise.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineer About this section

Aerospace engineers
Aerospace engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Aerospace engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related field to enter the occupation. Aerospace engineers who work on projects that are related to national defense may need a security clearance. Some types and levels of clearance require U.S. citizenship.

Education

Aerospace engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field. High school students interested in studying aerospace engineering should take classes in chemistry, physics, and math.

Bachelor’s degree programs in engineering usually include classroom, laboratory, and field courses in subjects such as stability and control, structures, and mechanics.

College students may have an opportunity to participate in cooperative education programs or internships. Through partnership with local businesses, these programs allow students to gain practical experience while they complete their education.

Some colleges and universities offer a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree may allow an engineer to work as an instructor at a university or to do research and development.

Employers may prefer to hire graduates of aerospace engineering programs accredited by a professional association such as ABET. A degree from an accredited program is usually required to become licensed.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level aerospace engineer positions. Experienced engineers may obtain a Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows them to oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public.

State licensure generally requires a bachelor’s or higher degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, several years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on the PE exam.

Each state issues its own license. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Advancement

Aerospace engineers who gain experience or who have additional education or credentials may advance into technical or supervisory positions. Those with leadership skills also may become engineering managers or project management specialists.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to evaluate project design elements and propose improvements, if necessary.

Business skills. Meeting federal standards in aerospace engineering requires business knowledge, including commercial law. Project management or systems engineering skills also may be useful.

Communication skills. Aerospace engineers must be able to explain, both orally and in writing, the details of their designs. They may need to convey information to a variety of audiences, including nontechnical ones.

Interpersonal skills. Aerospace engineers often work on teams and must be able to interact with other types of engineers and with nontechnical team members.

Math skills. Aerospace engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other math in their analysis, design, and troubleshooting work.

Problem-solving skills. Aerospace engineers upgrade designs and troubleshoot problems to improve aircraft, such as for increased fuel efficiency or safety.

Pay About this section

Aerospace Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2022

Aerospace engineers

$126,880

Engineers

$100,030

Total, all occupations

$46,310

 

The median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $126,880 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $78,170, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $176,280.

In May 2022, the median annual wages for aerospace engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $141,730
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 129,890
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 128,550
Federal government, excluding postal service 127,150
Engineering services 122,480

Most aerospace engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Engineers may need to work extra hours to monitor progress and to troubleshoot when problems arise.

Job Outlook About this section

Aerospace Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Engineers

7%

Aerospace engineers

6%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of aerospace engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,800 openings for aerospace engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Aircraft are being redesigned for less noise pollution and better fuel efficiency, which should help drive demand for aerospace engineers.

Technological advancements have reduced the cost of launching satellites. Demand for aerospace engineers is expected to increase as space becomes more accessible, especially with developments in small satellites that have greater commercial viability. In addition, continued interest in drones for certain uses, such as forest fire detection, may help to drive employment growth for these engineers.

Employment projections data for aerospace engineers, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Aerospace engineers

17-2011 63,800 67,700 6 3,900 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of aerospace engineers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2022 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians run and maintain equipment used to develop, test, produce, and sustain aircraft and spacecraft.

Associate's degree $74,410
Architectural and engineering managers Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in the fields of architecture and engineering.

Bachelor's degree $159,920
Computer hardware engineers Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components.

Bachelor's degree $132,360
Electrical and electronic engineering technicians Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians help engineers design and develop equipment that is powered by electricity or electric current.

Associate's degree $66,390
Electrical and electronics engineers Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor's degree $104,610
Industrial engineers Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor's degree $96,350
Materials engineers Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Bachelor's degree $100,140
Mechanical engineers Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor's degree $96,310
project management specialists Project Management Specialists

Project management specialists coordinate the budget, schedule, staffing, and other details of a project.

Bachelor's degree $95,370

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Technology Student Association (TSA)

For more information about licensure as an aerospace engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

For more information about current developments in aeronautics, visit

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

CareerOneStop

For a career video on aerospace engineers, visit

Aerospace Engineers

O*NET

Aerospace Engineers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Aerospace Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/aerospace-engineers.htm (visited January 27, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.