Aerospace engineers design machines that fly, from missiles and airplanes to space shuttles and satellites. They do not, however, travel to space. Instead, they use computer models to simulate space flight. Computer modeling helps aerospace engineers to design better spacecraft because they cannot go to space in order to test their designs.
Where Do Aerospace Engineers Work?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, aerospace engineers work primarily in office settings. There, they use computers to design prototypes and simulate how they would fly. However, aerospace engineers also spend time in a manufacturing setting, ensuring that products are actually being produced according to the design specifications.
Become an Astronaut
To travel to space, an aerospace engineer would need to become an astronaut pilot, captain or mission specialist. Because astronauts are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in an area of science related to space travel, a former aerospace engineer would have an advantage. However, candidates must meet certain medical, height and vision requirements if they are to become astronauts.
2016 Salary Information for Aerospace Engineers
Aerospace engineers earned a median annual salary of $109,650 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, aerospace engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $85,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $135,020, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 69,600 people were employed in the U.S. as aerospace engineers.