Flight simulation engineers work to design and create flight simulators used by government agencies or airlines. These engineers typically work within a team alongside designers and computer programmers. They need a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering and, depending on the employer, certification or a security clearance.
Flight simulation engineers design, create and maintain flight simulators for numerous United States government agencies as well as simulator manufacturers and airlines. Flight simulation engineers must be technologically competent and able to oversee complex projects to completion. A bachelor's degree is a requirement for flight simulation engineering positions.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Employer may require certification or security clearance|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||2% for aerospace engineers*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$115,220 for aerospace engineers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The main duty of a flight simulation engineer is to create interactive programs that mirror the experience of flying as closely as possible. Engineers are involved in every step of the process of creating a simulation, from analyzing the aerodynamic models to testing and troubleshooting the finished product. The process of producing simulators often requires a team of graphic designers, computer programmers and mechanics to put together the many components of the machine, and the engineer oversees the entire operation.
Much of an engineer's job revolves around making the simulation as accurate as possible, which involves hands-on testing to ensure that simulations are realistic. In addition to designing and creating flight simulators, engineers may be called upon to fix any problems with already existing machines, or to provide updates for any new technological advances in the field.
Education and Career Requirements
A Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering provides students with a basic understanding of the physics and mechanics of flight. Potential flight simulation engineers need a detailed knowledge of computer and mathematical models and the sensation of flying.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that aerospace engineers who are employed by government agencies typically are required to document citizenship and obtain security clearance. These prerequisites may also apply to engineers working for private firms on government contracts.
The Flight Simulation Engineer and Technician Association (FSETA) offers voluntary certification in the operation and technical maintenance of simulators. The FSETA certification has multiple levels that are based on work experience and education.
Salary and Employment Outlook
The BLS doesn't provide salary information or employment predictions specifically for flight simulation engineers; however, it indicated that the broader category of aerospace engineers was expected to show a two percent growth in employment between 2018 and 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that $115,220 was the median annual salary earned by aerospace engineers.
Aspiring flight simulation engineers can pursue a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering. They will also need knowledge of computer and mathematical models in order to design and create flight simulators. Typically flight simulator engineers work for government agencies or private companies, both of which may require U.S. citizenship.