Is becoming an aerospace engineer right for me?

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What do aerospace engineers do?
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How to become an Aerospace Engineer

Becoming an aerospace engineer involves a combination of education, gaining relevant experience, and possibly pursuing professional licensure. Here's a general guide:

  • Educational Requirements: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Aerospace Engineering or a related field, such as aeronautical engineering or mechanical engineering with an aerospace focus. Ensure that the program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Maintain a high GPA throughout your undergraduate studies, as academic performance is often considered by employers when hiring aerospace engineers.
  • Participate in Internships or Co-op Programs: Seek internships or co-op programs with aerospace companies or research institutions during your undergraduate studies. Practical experience is highly valuable and can enhance your employability.
  • Engage in Aerospace Projects: Participate in aerospace-related projects or research initiatives. This hands-on experience can provide practical insights and make you stand out to potential employers.
  • Pursue a Master's Degree (Optional): While a bachelor's degree is sufficient for entry-level positions, obtaining a Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering or a related field can open up advanced career opportunities and increase your expertise in a specific area.
  • Obtain Professional Licensure (Optional): While not always required, obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) license can enhance your credibility and open doors to certain career paths. To become licensed, you typically need a bachelor's degree, relevant work experience, and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineering (PE) exams.
  • Apply for Entry-Level Positions: Search for entry-level aerospace engineering positions or engineering roles with a focus on aerospace within companies or government agencies. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight relevant coursework, projects, and experiences.
  • Excel in Interviews: Prepare for interviews by showcasing your technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and passion for aerospace engineering. Be ready to discuss your academic and practical experiences.
  • Continuously Develop Skills: Aerospace engineering is a dynamic field, and continuous learning is essential. Stay updated on new technologies, attend workshops or training programs, and consider pursuing certifications relevant to your specific interests within aerospace engineering.

Aerospace engineers can benefit from certifications that enhance their skills, knowledge, and credibility in the field. Here are some relevant certifications for aerospace engineers:

  • Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam: Offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), the FE Exam is the first step towards becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). While not specific to aerospace engineering, passing the FE Exam is often a prerequisite for obtaining a PE license.
  • Professional Engineer (PE) License: A PE license is a crucial certification for aerospace engineers who want to take on leadership roles or provide engineering services directly to the public. To obtain a PE license, engineers typically need to pass the PE Exam, gain relevant work experience, and meet state-specific licensing requirements.
  • Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP): Offered by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE), the CSEP certification is suitable for aerospace engineers involved in systems engineering. It demonstrates expertise in integrating complex systems, a key aspect of aerospace engineering.
  • Certified Aerospace Technician (AET): Provided by the National Aerospace Technician Education Center (NATEC), the AET certification is designed for aerospace technicians and engineers. It covers a range of topics related to aerospace systems, maintenance, and technology.
  • Certified Aerospace Engineer (CAE): The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) offers the CAE certification, demonstrating a high level of expertise and knowledge in aerospace engineering. It is tailored for professionals with significant experience in the field.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP): While not specific to aerospace engineering, the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is valuable for aerospace engineers involved in project management roles. It demonstrates proficiency in project management principles and practices.
  • AS9100 Quality Management System (QMS) Auditor Certification: AS9100 is a quality management standard specific to the aerospace industry. Becoming a certified auditor for AS9100 can be beneficial for aerospace engineers involved in quality management and assurance.
  • Certified Flight Test Engineer (CFTE): Offered by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP), the CFTE certification is designed for engineers involved in flight testing. It validates expertise in the complex field of testing aircraft and aerospace systems.
  • Associate Value Specialist (AVS): The SAVE International offers the AVS certification for professionals involved in value engineering. Aerospace engineers engaged in cost-effective design and optimization may find this certification beneficial.