Aerospace Structural Engineer: Job Description and Requirements

Jan 16, 2020

Learn about the education and training needed to become an aerospace structural engineer. Get a quick overview of the requirements as well as details about education, job responsibilities, and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Required Education Bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or related field
Additional Requirements Security clearance and drug test may be required
Certifcation/Licensure Optional Professional Engineer licensure
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 2% for all aerospace engineers*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $115,220 for all aerospace engineers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Aerospace structural engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, or missile structures. Engineers must have a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or a related field to obtain entry-level positions. Some employers require security clearance or drug testing. Optional certification is available to engineers with four or more years of job experience.

Job Description

Aerospace structural engineers research, analyze, and create structural engineering specifications using various metallic, non-metallic, and composite materials. These professionals frequently use computer-aided design, mathematical models, and other computer software to formulate, analyze, and modify airplane or missile prototypes. Engineers may also use these models to test damage tolerance, durability, and stability to determine structural configurations. Other duties may include documenting performance records, inspecting damaged or malfunctioning products, and writing technical reports or product manuals.

Entry-level workers typically perform routine tasks, such as checking calculations and entering inputs, under the supervision of an experienced engineer. New hires may also receive on-the-job, classroom training. As recruits advance, they may be assigned more complicated tasks, such as incorporating load calculations into models and evaluating the integrity of structural materials. Aerospace structural engineers may advance to become structural specialists, aerospace engineering managers, or chief engineering officers.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for aerospace engineers are expected to grow by two percent between 2018 and 2028. The median annual salary for aerospace engineers was $115,220 as of May 2018. Engineers might work in the aviation, defense, or space exploration industries. Additionally, because most engineering students take similar college courses, engineers have the flexibility to switch between industries or positions.


Entry-level engineers need a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering or related field. Advanced positions may require licensure. Licensure requirements generally include completing an accredited bachelor's degree program, accruing four years of work experience, and passing two examinations. Fundamentals of Engineering (FE), the first exam, may be taken after graduating from college. Engineers are eligible to take the second exam, Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE), after gaining the sufficient work experience.

Licensed engineers might need to participate in continuing education. Depending on the state, this might include completing college-level coursework, attending educational seminars, and publishing research papers. Additionally, employers might require applicants to go through a security clearance process that generally consists of a background investigation and drug test.

In summary, aerospace structural engineers design, develop, and test aircraft, spacecraft, or missile structures. They need a minimum of a bachelor's degree, with advanced positions sometimes requiring a master's degree and licensure.

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