An aerospace technologist ensures that spacecraft and aircraft are running efficiently and safely. These professionals typically hold an associate's degree or train through the military.
Aerospace technologists play a major part in the efficiency and safety of aircraft and spacecraft. They assemble, operate, service and repair air- and spacecraft and related ground support equipment. Technologists also test equipment and instruments that launch, position, track and evaluate these vehicles. Prospective aerospace technologists should seek an associate's degree or similar experience or training. Military training in aerospace technology can substitute for a degree.
|Required Training||2-year degree in aerospace technology; alternately, training through military services|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||4% projected growth|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$68,620 for all aerospace engineering and operations technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Aerospace Technologist Education Requirements
Although the primary focus of aerospace technology is aircraft and spacecraft, it is also used in other areas, including transportation systems, wind power and aerodynamics for such things as golf balls and race cars. Education requirements for all areas are the same.
SpaceTEC is the National Science Foundation's Center of Excellence for Aerospace Technical Education that gives a voluntary national certification for aerospace technologists. It has indicated that the aerospace technologist requires no more than a 2-year degree or similar training or experience (www.spacetec.org). This training is offered through vocational and technical colleges, community colleges and the military services.
An Associate of Applied Science in Aerospace Technology degree is the most common degree offered. In earning these degrees, students will study aerodynamics and propulsion, aircraft design and manufacture (including systems, control and stability) and commercial flight stipulations. Some programs also focus on helping students to develop the ability to adapt to changes in a continually developing field.
Although only an associate degree is necessary to work as an aerospace technologist, more colleges are offering bachelor's degrees in aerospace with a concentration in technology or engineering on aerospace technology. These degrees are generally for individuals who want more advanced education in engineering. However, this usually takes one out of the technologist role.
Aerospace technologists may find aerospace jobs as fabricators, machinists or welders. They may help assemble aerospace structures. The highest paying industries for aerospace technologists are computer systems design and scheduled air transportation. Scientific research and development is third. However, the most jobs are found in manufacturing products, parts and instruments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).
In 2015, the average annual salary for all aerospace engineering and operations technicians was about $68,620 per year, or $32.99 an hour. States with the highest concentration of aerospace technologist jobs were Washington, Arizona and Georgia. The BLS anticipated a 4% increase in terms of employment opportunities between 2014 and 2024. This is believed to be because design and testing computer simulations will be used more frequently.
If technologists want to broaden the focus of their career, they can earn aeronautical engineering degrees on both bachelor's and master's levels. Doctoral degrees are available to those who wish to specialize in research.
As an aspiring aerospace technologist, you'll need both formal education and on-the-job training. Once hired, you will be repairing, maintaining, and assembling aircraft and aviation equipment.