Spacecraft Engineer: Job Description, Degree & Salary

Spacecraft engineers use a range of skills to produce satellites and other types of spacecraft. Continue reading to learn more about what they do, how to train for this career and what spacecraft engineers typically earn once employed in their field.

Career Definition of a Spacecraft Engineer

Spacecraft engineers, also known as astronautical engineers, combine their mechanical and creative talents to design and produce different types of spacecraft. In the early stages of a project, they meet with clients or other professionals involved with the development of the craft. They review the objectives of the project and proposed budget to determine if they can design and deliver the desired craft for the financing available. They also need to consider all technical and safety specifications.

The next phase involves producing design plans for the spacecraft. The spacecraft engineer sets specific production goals and oversees the production process to ensure that the design specifications are followed. They also ensure that the project stays on budget, and once a prototype is completed, they are responsible for testing it to determine if it works as expected. Their duties can also involve testing related computer software that will operate the craft. They may also monitor spacecraft that's been launched and evaluate its performance.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's degree
Job Skills Analytical skills, problem-solving skills, design skills, customer service skills, communication skills, teamwork skills
Median Salary (2017)* $81,822
Job Outlook (2016-2026)** 6% (aerospace engineers)

Sources: *; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Spacecraft engineers typically need to have a bachelor's degree in a discipline such as aerospace engineering. Those considering a career as a spacecraft engineer should take mathematics, science, and computer programming classes in high school.

Spacecraft engineers may be required to use drafting software such as CAD for their designs. They may also require national security clearance. A Professional Engineering (PE) license is not generally required for spacecraft engineers but can help them advance to leadership positions later in their careers.

Required Skills

Spacecraft engineers need to have strong mathematical skills to perform calculations in their work and to establish budgets for projects. Their work involves interacting with other designers, production staff and clients, so communication skills are also important in this profession. They must be able to use computer design software to produce schematics and technical materials, so computer skills are required. They may also need computer programming skills to develop and evaluate the computer software used to operate the spacecraft they design. They rely on analytical skills to evaluate designs and project proposals, and they need problem-solving skills to determine how to effectively correct issues that arise during the design and production process. Since they may be involved in communicating directly with clients, they should also have strong customer service skills.

Career Outlook and Salary

From 2016 to 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that the average rate of job growth for all occupations will be 7%. Spacecraft engineers, who are included with the BLS listing for aerospace engineers, are expected to see a slightly lower job growth rate of 6% during this same period. reported that as of 2017, spacecraft engineers earned a median annual salary of $81,822.

Related Careers

Prospective spacecraft engineers might be interested in other engineering professions that involve analytical and design skills. The links listed here lead to more information about industrial designers, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers:

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?