What Can You Do With a PhD IN Aerospace Engineering?

Aug 07, 2019

What are your options after earning a PhD in aerospace engineering? Discover what you can do after defending your dissertation, including job options and different fields of engineering that you can enter.

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Earning a PhD in aerospace engineering puts you in an elite category of qualified candidates for many industries. A doctorate allows you to teach engineering courses in a college or university. You could also pursue research and development in various areas of engineering, as well as management positions.

Careers Related to a PhD in Aerospace Engineering

Job Title Median Salary (May 2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Postsecondary Engineering Teacher $101,720 15%
Aerospace Engineer $115,220 6%
Architectural and Engineering Manager $140,760 6%
Mechanical Engineer $87,370 9%
Industrial Engineer $87,040 10%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Overview of Careers Related to a PhD in Aerospace Engineering

Postsecondary Engineering Teacher

One of the best ways to utilize your PhD is to share your knowledge with others and become an engineering teacher of college or university courses. You'll lead discussions and conduct seminars with undergraduate and graduate students while grading their assignments and exams. When you aren't in a classroom, you'll work on creating lesson plans and providing feedback for student papers and answering their questions in person or through email. Students who are majoring in aerospace engineering may receive your name as an advisor, which allows you to help them select the best courses for their plan of study. Outside of the school environment, you'll attend academic conferences where you can share your research with colleagues from around the world.

Aerospace Engineer

A PhD in aerospace engineering is usually required to work in research and development. These engineers not only come up with the schematics for a potential product, they have to figure out if it's financially and technically possible. You'll need to meet the standards of your company/client, and ensure that the final product is good enough to pass the requirements of environmental and consumer law. Depending on your personal interests, you could also choose to become an astronautical engineer, which involves the design of technology and aircraft that operate outside of the Earth's atmosphere.

Architectural and Engineering Manager

After some time in the field and sharing your doctoral work in academic journals or industry trade publications, you could use your work experience and education to transition into a management position as an architectural or engineering manager. You'll use what you have learned to create plans for new products within your company or organization and hire the right people to continue successful product design. When a new product enters the testing phase, you'll need to spot any potential issues before it hits the market. Your design philosophy will extend to the rest of your staff, and you'll need to reach across departments and coordinate your plans with those in other branches of your company.

Mechanical Engineer

Your engineering expertise and research from your PhD may lend well to designing some of the components that an aircraft uses. Mechanical engineers design thermal devices, as well as update them when new technology or design practices become available. During the prototype phase, you'll test new devices and provide feedback to the rest of your company or clients to update them on the development process. When you determine the correct changes to make, you'll make notes of them for the future, keeping a detailed log of each redesign and update. If something happens and the equipment fails, the investigation might be your responsibility. Many research and development programs in this field require a PhD, which could also help with staying abreast of new technologies.

Industrial Engineer

You could also choose to focus on the production side of aerospace engineering and take a position as an industrial engineer. This career involves plenty of review during the manufacturing process, ensuring that every piece of equipment is designed as efficiently and effectively as possible. Quality control is a major component of your job, and you'll create standards to ensure that cost is minimized while production ramps up. You'll discuss the details of your clients' purchases, including specifications and any changes in cost. A PhD is typically required to work in research and development.

A PhD in aerospace engineering may open the door to several different fields as an engineer. You could design something yourself, or you might use your doctorate to focus on research and teaching.

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