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Career profile Aerospace Engineer

Also known as Aeronautical Engineer, Aerospace Engineer, Aerospace Stress Engineer, Avionics Engineer, Design Engineer, Flight Controls Engineer, Flight Test Engineer, Structural Analysis Engineer, Systems Engineer, Test Engineer

Aerospace Engineer

Also known as Aeronautical Engineer, Aerospace Engineer, Aerospace Stress Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$72,770 - $171,220 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Science
Knowledge Areas
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Design
Core tasks
  • Design or engineer filtration systems that reduce harmful emissions.
  • Evaluate biofuel performance specifications to determine feasibility for aerospace applications.
  • Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify design, according to customer engineering requirements.
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What does an Aerospace Engineer do?

Aerospace Engineers perform engineering duties in designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft.

In addition, Aerospace Engineers

  • 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.

What kind of tasks does an Aerospace Engineer perform regularly?

Aerospace Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify 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.
  • Plan or coordinate investigation and resolution of customers' reports of technical problems with aircraft or aerospace vehicles.
  • Formulate conceptual design of aeronautical or aerospace products or systems to meet customer requirements or conform to environmental regulations.
  • Write technical reports or other documentation, such as handbooks or bulletins, for use by engineering staff, management, or customers.
  • Direct or coordinate activities of engineering or technical personnel involved in designing, fabricating, modifying, or testing of aircraft or aerospace products.
  • Evaluate product data or design from inspections or reports for conformance to engineering principles, customer requirements, environmental regulations, or quality standards.
  • Develop design criteria for aeronautical or aerospace products or systems, including testing methods, production costs, quality standards, environmental standards, or completion dates.
  • Analyze project requests, proposals, or engineering data to determine feasibility, productibility, cost, or production time of aerospace or aeronautical products.
  • Maintain records of performance reports for future reference.

The above responsibilities are specific to Aerospace Engineers. More generally, Aerospace Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

What is an Aerospace Engineer salary?

The median salary for an Aerospace Engineer is $118,610, and the average salary is $121,110. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Aerospace Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Aerospace Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Aerospace Engineers earn less than $72,770 per year, 25% earn less than $91,480, 75% earn less than $148,570, and 90% earn less than $171,220.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Aerospace Engineers is expected to change by 8.3%, and there should be roughly 4,000 open positions for Aerospace Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$72,770 - $171,220
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Aerospace Engineers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Aerospace Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Aerospace Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Aerospace Engineers typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Aerospace Engineer tend to value Working Conditions, Recognition, and Independence.

Most importantly, Aerospace Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Second, Aerospace Engineers strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Lastly, Aerospace Engineers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Aerospace Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Aerospace Engineers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Aerospace Engineers need?

Many Aerospace Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Aerospace Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Aerospace Engineers

  • 0.4% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 1.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 5.2% completed some college coursework
  • 3.7% earned a Associate's degree
  • 49.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 32.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 6.7% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as engineering and technology, mathematics, or design knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Aerospace Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Important Abilities needed by Aerospace Engineers

Aerospace Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Aerospace Engineers need abilities such as written comprehension, problem sensitivity, and deductive reasoning in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Aerospace Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Information Ordering
The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

Critical Skills needed by Aerospace Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Aerospace Engineers frequently use skills like critical thinking, reading comprehension, and science to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Aerospace Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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