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Engineering Careers: How to Become an Aerospace Engineer

While many people dream of exploring space and becoming an astronaut, few will ever get the chance to leave the Earth's atmosphere. However, those with the desire to make a difference in the world of aerospace exploration and aviation can do so by finding careers as aerospace engineers.

Quick Facts: Aerospace Engineer Industry
Median Pay:   $105,380 per year | $51 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Bachelor's degree
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   72,000

Aerospace Engineer Occupations:

  • Aerospace engineers$105,380

Becoming an aerospace engineer requires specific skills and knowledge. Discover how you can make a difference in space exploration and aviation with a degree in this specialized field of engineering.

What Do Aerospace Engineers Do?

Before you start on the path toward becoming an engineer in the space or aviation industry, it is important that you fully understand what this career entails and what tasks might be part of your job. Essentially, aerospace engineers use their knowledge of physics, engineering and what we know about different atmospheres to design and manufacture items such as missiles, satellites and even spacecraft for the use of astronauts.

Since designing these items is an important job, many engineers spend years or even decades perfecting models and testing them repeatedly until they are ready to be used in the real world. Like many engineers, employees in this field may rely heavily on the use of computers to design spacecraft or aircraft. At the side of these aerospace engineers are technicians who assist with the process and add valuable input to designs.

What Degrees Are Required To Work in This Field?

If you are serious about becoming an engineer in the aerospace field, then you will almost certainly need to have some kind of formal education in order to secure a career.

The very minimum that you can have in order to find work as an aerospace or operations technician is an associate degree. This takes an average of just two years to complete, and your major should be either aerospace or a branch of engineering. However, most careers will require applicants to have a four-year bachelor's degree.

Beyond this level, there is the option of earning a master's degree, which can take an additional one to two years to complete. With this advanced degree, you will have a variety of career options open to you in the future. Remember that before you can earn any college degrees, you will need to have a high school diploma or the equivalent of a general education degree.

What Salary Perks and Career Potential is There For Aerospace Engineers?

Anyone considering this career for their future might be interested in learning exactly how much aerospace engineers can earn annually as well as what kind of career potential and projected growth there is in the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2012, aerospace engineers with a bachelor's degree were earning a median salary of $97,480 per year each year. Aerospace technicians with just an associate degree, on the other hand, were earning median salaries of $58,080 per year. This salary difference clearly indicates that those with more advanced degrees will have greater earning potential in the field.

The demand for aerospace engineers is predicted to grow through the year 2020, and the BLS estimates that an additional 4,000 jobs will be created in the field in the coming years.

Is This The Right Career For You?

If this career sounds appealing, you should give some thought to whether it is the right fit for your natural abilities. The best aerospace engineers will have strong math and science backgrounds in order to put scientific principles to work in their designs. In addition, having great spatial awareness and vision can help when using software to design entire missiles, aircraft and spacecraft.

Becoming an engineer in the aerospace world isn't easy, but tools such as an online degree can help you get there in less time. This career is fascinating and at the forefront of scientific discovery, which makes it appealing to a vast range of knowledge-hungry individuals from around the world.

Is There a Difference Between Online and Traditional Science Degrees?

For busy students, the appeal of an online degree is a definite factor to consider. However, some aspiring aerospace professionals are worried that employers won't be receptive to the idea of an online degree.

One option might be to complete some of your basic courses online before getting into the specialized areas of aerospace engineering. You also want to make sure that any coursework you complete online is with an accredited college or university so that you can transfer your credits to the school of your choice when you are ready to pursue more hands-on courses of engineering technology.

Many online schools offer courses in engineering to help you gain the foundation you will need to pursue a more advanced degree. Online courses offer working professionals a great opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills while maintaining a job and raising a family.