Logo: Launch into Aerospace

Choosing a Career in the Aerospace Industry



While there are hundreds of different occupations within the aerospace industry, they can be simplified into four categories:
  • Scientists and Engineers
  • Technicians
  • Production Workers
  • Administrative Employees
Scientists and Engineers: Scientists and engineers are essential to keeping the U.S. aerospace industry competitive and technologically advanced in the global marketplace.

Scientists are chiefly concerned with research and the practical application of research knowledge. Engineers, although similarly engaged in research and practical applications, are generally involved in work of a more specific nature, such as designing a specific piece of equipment.

Scientists and engineers work in one of three major areas:
  1. Research, design, and development.
  2. Production, operation, and control.
  3. Installation, maintenance, and sales.
Engineers of all types are in high demand because of the increasing complexity of systems and services. According to a 2006 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, engineering majors can expect, on average, to see the highest starting salaries.

Technicians: Technicians have substantial knowledge of engineering, mathematics, and life sciences. Some might have college degrees while others are graduates of technical institutes, junior colleges, or vocational schools. Still others earn technical status by promotion from lower-skilled jobs and on-the-job training.

Examples of technicians include computer programmers, communications technicians, drafting technicians, fabrication inspectors, science writers and technical illustrators, model makers, and assemblers.

Like scientists and engineers, technicians work in one of three major areas:
  1. Research, design, and development.
  2. Production, operation, and control.
  3. Installation, maintenance, and sales.
Production Workers: Production workers engage in product processing, fabrication, assembly, inspection, receiving, storing, packing, warehousing, shipping, plant maintenance, and plant security.

Some production positions are highly skilled, such as machinists, tool and die makers, mechanics, sheet metal workers, and electricians. Computer skills are required and higher-skilled craft jobs demand two to four years of experience. Some production workers get experience through apprenticeships along with a vocational or technical institute education.

Administrative Employees: Knowledge of engineering and technology is useful for anyone working in a high technology industry like aerospace. A college degree is essential for jobs like contract manager, budget administrator, or strategic planner. A Master of Business Administration degree, generally known as an MBA, is essential for promotion to the upper levels of the administrative workforce.