Students in aeronautical engineering programs gain the practical experience needed to understand aerodynamics, engine design, heat transfer and control systems design. They attend lectures, engage in class discussions, and spend a significant amount of time experimenting with design, construction and prototype testing. Those enrolled in master's degree programs also conduct advanced research.
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Individuals looking for a career in aerospace engineering can benefit from the educational foundation offered by a bachelor's in aerospace engineering. Aerospace engineering students learn basic scientific, mathematics and engineering principles and applications, and they learn to apply these to the design, testing and operation of aircraft, spacecraft, missiles and other vehicles of flight. Students can expect aerospace engineering coursework such as:
- Engine design
- Fluid mechanics
- Aircraft design
Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Applicants for a master's degree in aerospace engineering generally need a bachelor's degree in a related discipline and GRE test scores. Students working toward this master's degree continue to study the theories and principles of aerospace engineering at an advanced level. Curriculum emphasis is on improved understanding of design technologies and the science behind the engineering, and it takes between one and two years to complete. Course topics may include:
- Mechanics of materials
- Heat transfer
- Mechanical design
- Control systems design
- Structural dynamics
Students may also complete and defend a thesis project to graduate from this program.
Popular Career Options
Those who earn bachelor's degrees may go on to become engineers. Graduates generally find employment in the federal government, aerospace manufacturing or aerospace research. Individuals may find entry-level employment in a number of roles in the industry, like:
- Design research
- Engineering services
- Aerospace product and part manufacturing
Many also choose to continue their education by earning graduate degrees. A master's in aerospace engineering can lead to upper level positions, solving more abstract problems. For example, advanced positions with NASA often require at least a master's degree.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for an aerospace engineer was $110,570 (www.bls.gov) per year, as of May 2015. The industry with the highest number of aerospace engineers was aerospace product and parts manufacturing and professionals in this industry earned slightly less than the average, at $107,960 per year. The highest paying industry was miscellaneous professional, scientific and technical services, which paid an average salary of $150,340 per year.
While salaries are relatively high, employment outlook is projected to be bleak in the coming years. As the BLS reports, job opportunities for aerospace engineers was expected to drop 2% between 2014 and 2024.
In an aerospace engineering degree program, you'll learn about aerodynamics, engine design, heat transfer, and control systems design as you prepare for a career as an aerospace engineer.