Aerospace engineers work with all kinds of aircraft - from gliders to space shuttles. They can design, develop, or help manufacture aircraft - including rockets and spacecraft. Many engineers specialize in one area, like structural design, navigation systems, or manufacturing techniques. Others choose to specialize in a particular kind of air or space craft. Two types of aerospace engineers include aeronautical engineers (They work with aircraft that stay within the earth's atmosphere such as airplanes and helicopters.) and astronautical engineers (They work with aircraft that operate outside of the earth's atmosphere such as rockets, satellites, and other and spacecraft.)
Aerospace engineering can be taken for a bachelors degree or more advanced degrees such as a masters or Ph. D. Many universities have aerospace engineering departments but the degree may be a specialty of the mechanical engineering department in others. Some engineers with a mechanical engineering degree may also specialize in aerospace work.
Aerospace engineers work in industries directly related to aircraft. Some work in labs testing aircraft, while others investigate crashes and systems failures to determine the cause and prevent future accidents.
The starting salary for an aerospace engineer (2009):
- Improve the safety of the space shuttles
- Build a more spacious airliner
- Create satellites that detect drought around the world
- Design robots that collect samples on other planets, revealing insights about our galaxy
- Develop parachutes, using new materials to improve their performance