Aerospace engineers work to develop and test planes and spacecraft. It's a field that many people predict will be booming in the next few decades, as flight is refined and new technologies are applied to airplanes. If you want to become an aerospace engineer, look for a college that offers such a program.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Master's degree in aerospace engineering
- Bachelor's degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering
Study aerospace engineering during college. There are many universities, both public and private, that offer these types of degrees. The program doesn't exist at all schools, but most mechanical engineering curriculums offer some upper level aerospace electives.
Start doing undergraduate research with the aerospace professors. This industry is notoriously hard to break into, so you'll need to start making connections as soon as possible. If you don't have any aerospace engineers in your mechanical engineering program, try to find a teacher whose research could be applied to aircraft.
Search for a summer co-op or internship in the aerospace industry. The vast majority of aerospace testing is done in the western and southwestern parts of the United States. If you don't want to relocate, you may be able to find a local company that does some of the manufacturing for planes.
Think about going straight to graduate school after you get your bachelor's degree. Unless you've been offered a job from your internship sponsors, you may find it very difficult to become an entry-level aerospace engineer. A graduate program gives you the chance to make more industry connections and become eligible for research and development work.
Network with people in the Air Force or Department of Defense. These groups are two of the largest employers of aerospace engineers for contract work. Even speaking with officials at local airports might be a good way to help you make connections that could lead to a job.
Tips and warnings
- You may want to become an aerospace engineer by studying engineering management. A minor or second degree in management could help set you apart from other recent graduates.
- You should think about getting a mechanical engineering degree with some coursework in the aerospace field. This variety can help you get an engineering-related job while you continue to look of employment in the aerospace industry.
- Some aerospace engineers have their pilot's license, but it is not required for most jobs.
- A computer engineer could work in the aerospace industry by developing air traffic control software.