Want to build a rocket ship? There’s a major for that. Read on to find out what else you can do with an aerospace engineering degree.

When you think about aerospace engineers, the term “rocket scientist” doubtless springs to mind. And this likely conjures thoughts of a highly technical career involving math, physics and, yes, building rockets (or Iron Man suits if you believe some of the wilder corners of the internet).

In truth, aerospace engineering is highly technical, but it’s also a discipline that can open many doors. Here’s the scoop on careers in aerospace engineering and how to make the most of your degree.

is aerospace engineering a good major?

Because it’s so specialized, it’s natural to wonder about the job prospects of an aerospace engineering degree and whether it’s a “good” major. The short answer is yes. Individuals with degrees in aerospace engineering possess highly transferable skills, including business acumen, critical thinking, high-level math and written communication.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for aerospace engineers in May 2021 was $122,270. The BLS also projects employment for aerospace engineers will grow six percent from 2021 to 2031, on pace with the average for all other occupations. Additionally, the field is expected to have around 3,800 job openings yearly. These openings are being driven primarily by factors like retirement, but demand for engineers is also increasing due to the need for improved fuel efficiency and the emergence of new technologies.

aerospace engineering career paths

Generally speaking, the first step to a career in aerospace engineering is earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering. However, you can also enter the field with a degree in a related specialty like math or physics.

Most employers will also require a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (MSAE). Certain schools offer a BS-MSAE program that combines the bachelor’s and master’s degrees into five years.

Aerospace engineers usually specialize in either aeronautical engineering (working with aircraft) or astronautical engineering (working with spacecraft and satellites).

aerospace engineering careers

In broad terms, aerospace engineers have several duties, ranging from overseeing the design of planes and spacecraft to evaluating project proposals and ensuring the quality of manufactured products.

Still, there are several careers available in the aerospace field. Some of the most prominent include:

  • Aircraft/spacecraft engineer. Like the name implies, these professionals help design and build spacecraft and aircraft for government agencies or private companies. And yes, NASA hires aerospace engineers — they’re just one of 20 types of engineers the organization employs.
  • Mechanical engineer. These specialists design the parts and equipment used to make spacecraft, planes and even missiles. They help ensure these parts operate efficiently and work to develop new technologies.
  • Drafter. Drafters are responsible for the blueprints used to build various types of planes and spacecraft. Using software programs, they create technical schematics that help engineers build and perfect their designs.
  • College professor. Excited by the idea of grooming the next generation of aerospace engineers? College professors teach courses related to the field and may also conduct research projects.

Everyone can use a little help advancing their career — even people with the skills to send a rocket to Mars. Find out how Randstad USA can help you start or develop your aerospace engineering career.