Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering Degree

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What is Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering?

Aeronautical and aerospace engineering is a field of study focused on the design and functionality of spacecraft, aircraft, satellites, and military applications.  Aerospace engineering can include a variety of engineering specialties such as:

  • Avionics
  • Aerodynamics
  • Materials Science
  • Propulsion
  • Manufacturing
  • Fabrication
  • Structural Analysis

An aerospace engineering major will gain academic knowledge and hands-on experience to understand many of the following: fluid mechanics, astrodynamics, engineering mechanics, mathematics, electrotechnology, propulsion, control engineering, solid mechanics, aircraft structures, aeroelasticity, aerospace computer software, noise mitigation, flight test, aeroacoustics, computational fluid dynamics, wind tunnels, and hydrodynamics.

The study of Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering also includes the vital facet of component integration and its related subsystems aligned with its useful lifecycle.

Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

Students seeking to enter the field of aerospace have a wide variety of options to consider.  Learning a specific trade in aerospace has never been more accessible proving ample opportunities for students to become experts in a defined niche.

Examples of degree and certificate programs in aerospace include: ultrasonic technician, industrial radiographer, thermographer, oil analyst, vibration analyst, reliability technician, composite technology, electronics technology, metallurgist, paint technology, sheet metal assembly, airframe maintenance, powerplant technology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, structural engineering, and aeronautical engineering.

Certificate Programs in Aerospace Technology

A certificate program in aerospace technology will teach students the fundamentals of the aerospace industry.  Certificate programs are typically shorter than degree programs with an emphasis on career development and skill building.

Students completing a certificate program can expect to be equipped for entry-level positions in the field or go on to earn a degree in the field.  Core classes in aerospace technology will vary by college but will generally cover similar essential principles.

Examples of core classes include: quality control concepts, precision instruments, blueprint reading, foundations of aerospace manufacturing, safety, introduction to sealing, hand tools, bonding and grounding, math, statistics, aircraft structures, aerostructure assemblies, power island, tolerances, and introduction to tolerances.

Associate Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

Associate’s degrees in aerospace engineering and aerospace technology are conferred as an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS).  On-site or online associate degrees are 2-year programs for full-time students.  Associate programs blend liberal arts education with core aerospace curriculum to provide students with a well-rounded education.  General education classes will typically include psychology, creative writing, philosophy, communications, and history.

Curriculum found in the core program will generally include science and technical information to prepare students for work in aerospace.  Core programs will include variations of the following: algebra, statistics, physics, aerospace manufacturing, lean operations, quality control, tooling, assemblies, plumbing, electricity, airframe basics, powerplant basics, fiber optics, tolerancing, HVAC, geometric dimensioning, technical writing, composite basics, and power island.

Bachelor Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

Bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering and technology are most frequently conferred as a Bachelor of Science or B.S.  A bachelor’s degree will take students approximately 4-years of full-time matriculation to complete.  Part-time students in the program will take longer as a function of program pace and course load.

Much like the associate’s degree, bachelor degrees meld liberal arts education with core curricula.  Students have the opportunity to develop critical thinking and communication skills requisite for success after graduation.  Developing an integrative set of thinking skills helps with employability and upward growth in the aerospace industry.

Students interested in pursuing a degree in aerospace will have the opportunity to select a number of different pathways.  The sheer complexity of an aircraft provides a variety of trades to co-exist within the field.   Degree options at the bachelor level can include a general aerospace engineering, aeronautical technology, civil engineering, industrial technology, architectural engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing engineering.

Master Degrees in Aerospace Engineering

A master’s degree in aerospace engineering is a graduate level program conferred as a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Engineering (MEng).  Master degrees will take 2-3 years to complete based on full-time matriculation after all lower level classes are attained.  Graduate degrees will provide students the opportunity to customize curriculum in conjunction with an academic advisor.

Clustering classes with the greatest interest will help ensure engagement in the program and the opportunity to significantly contribute to industry after graduation.  Master degrees in the field can include tracks that emphasize aerospace with an emphasis on power systems, airframes, electricity, mechanical systems, computers, manufacturing, HVAC, design, fabrication, and aeronautics.

Aerospace Engineer Requirements

In terms of educational requirements, Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:

Employment & Aerospace Engineering Jobs

For students that earn a college degree in Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from aerospace engineer, operations technician, engineering manager, electrical engineering, electrician, industrial engineer, materials engineer, mechanical engineer, and project manager.  Employers may be private entities, public corporations, or government organizations.

Largest Employers of Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace Manufacturers 26,370
Architectural and Engineering Firms 10,930
Federal Government 9,210
Measurement & Instrumentation Firms 6,680
Research & Development Centers 6,180

Top Paying States for Aerospace Engineers

Virginia $130,580
Colorado $129,550
District of Columbia $128,250
Maryland $124,200
California $119,400

Aerospace Engineering Careers

Employment looks bright for aerospace engineers.  In fact, engineering studies reveal a job growth on par with the greater United States economy.  The niche industry of aerospace engineering will see an additional 4,600 jobs in the near term.  Similarly, electrical and mechanical engineers are expected to see an additional 7% and 9% growth.  These two job types will contribute nearly 50,000 new jobs in the next ten year timeframe.

Income for aerospace engineers is currently $113,030 on a median annual basis.  This wage translates to $54.34 an hour or nearly three times the national average income.  The combination between a stable industry requiring specialized knowledge and above average pay is a formidable combination.  Qualifying students will be well positioned to take advantage of these converging employment trends.

Given the broad nature of the Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location.  Related fields include industrial mechanics, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, industrial engineer, and project manager.

Aerospace Engineering Resources

The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) may be a useful organizations to research.  With 100 years of history, the AIA has become a powerhouse for aerospace and defense professionals across the country.  Likewise, the AIAA offers courses, workshops, and conferences to bring the best and brightest in the industry together to share knowledge about the aerospace industry.

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Career Summary: Aerospace aeronautical engineering Major




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