What Education Is Needed to Become an Aerospace Engineer?

by George Lawrence J.D.; Updated September 26, 2017

Aerospace engineers build and design aeronautical machinery such as planes, spacecraft and missiles. They must understand physics and have a strong grasp of math. Through their work, satellites can be launched to orbit earth and airplanes can be made safer and more efficient. Becoming an aerospace engineer requires time and training.

High School Prep Classes

The road to becoming an aerospace engineer ideally starts in high school. Potential engineers should focus on advanced math classes such as trigonometry and calculus. Additionally, an early background in physics, chemistry and biology will help soon-to-be aerospace engineers in college. The better the student does in high school in these types of courses, the greater chances the student has to be admitted into a good aerospace engineering program.

Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering

After high school, the candidate must obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering. If the college or university offers coursework specific to aerospace engineering, the student should enroll and take those classes. Undergraduate coursework typically involves much more detailed work with math and science, including courses on linear algebra, calculus-based physics and thermal science. Additionally, there is coursework in research and writing. Students also typically participate in lab work testing flight concepts. A common competition in undergraduate aerospace engineering coursework is building and designing a model rocket.

Graduate Degree and ABET Certification

Aerospace engineers who want to be on the cutting edge of the industry must go further in their education by earning a graduate degree. Additionally, some states require engineers to be licensed. One condition of licensure is completing a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). To become licensed, the aerospace engineer must show proof that he completed his education and pass a test administered by the state.

2016 Salary Information for Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers earned a median annual salary of $102,220 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, nuclear engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $82,770, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $124,420, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 17,700 people were employed in the U.S. as nuclear engineers.

About the Author

Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.

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