By Laura Cronin 02 Dec 2022 4 min read

How long does it take to become an aerospace engineer?

Are you here to give a flying start to your aerospace career? 

Aerospace engineers are held responsible for some of mankind's incredible innovations. Besides manufacturing aircrafts and aerospace products including satellites and missiles, they also develop equipment for weather forecasts, television broadcasts, and mobile phones. 

Typically, aerospace engineering is a technical job that requires your ingenuity and technological talents along with computing numeracy. If you’re looking for a secure career with a well-paid salary, aerospace engineering can offer exciting opportunities. Since it’s a highly skilled profession, it has a great demand. Using your skills and expertise, you can make flights comfortable and safe for passengers. 

Role and responsibilities of aerospace engineers 


Aerospace engineers primarily develop systems and technologies that are used in the aviation industry, spacecraft, and national defence of a country. They specialise in areas including structural design, navigation and control, robotics, and instrumentation.

Aerospace products developed by aerospace engineers include military and commercial planes, rockets, military missiles, spacecraft, and satellites. Typically, there are two types of aerospace engineers: astronautical engineers and aeronautical engineers. While aeronautical engineers are concerned with the construction and performance of an aircraft, astronautical engineers are involved in technology related to spacecraft and satellites. 

In order to fulfil their role, aerospace engineers do the following tasks.

  • Coordinate the designing, manufacturing, and testing of aircrafts and aerospace products
  • Assess the feasibility of projects, especially on technical and financial terms
  • Determine the safety of operations and projects
  • Evaluate designs and proposals based on engineering principles and environmental regulations
  • Inspect malfunctions or any damaged products. Also identify problems and provide possible solutions

Becoming an aerospace engineer 


Aerospace engineering qualifications usually include a bachelor’s degree at minimum. The degree must typically be related to the field of aerospace engineering and usually takes three years to complete. Many universities offer a longer program to students offering a bachelor’s and Master’s degree together. Furthermore, there are Postgraduate degrees for those who want to study at an advanced level. Aerospace engineers holding a Master’s degree will have better job opportunities as well as higher salary packages. 

Besides having an educational qualification, there’s a vocational route for those who do not want to pursue an academic pathway to become an aerospace engineer. An apprenticeship is the best way for them to achieve their qualification while doing hands-on training. Apprentices who are passionate about their work can enter into senior roles if they have the right skill set. 

One of the most important aerospace engineer requirements includes accreditation of engineering programs. Such programs are generally accredited by The Royal Aeronautical Society. Having completed the accredited program ensures that students or employees have received the best training and education in aerospace engineering. 

The accreditation is sort of insurance that you have had a high quality qualification. A few engineering programs accredited by RAS include BEng/MEng Aerospace Engineering and MSc Advanced Aerospace Engineering. 

Career paths of aerospace engineers


Once you finish off your degree as an aerospace engineer, there are varied career paths for you to follow. You don’t necessarily have to delve into manufacturing of aircrafts or spacecraft. There’s also a lot of work related to designing parts or processing simulation data or drafting drawings. Some possible careers for aerospace engineers include;


  • Aircraft designer – those concerned with designing of aircraft for private or commercial air travel
  • Mechanical engineer – those manufacturing parts for spacecraft, aeroplanes or missiles
  • Aerospace technician –those concerned with installation, testing, maintenance, and repair of aircrafts or equipment related to them
  • Data processing manager – those creating simulations that augment research. This is done to find better solutions to problems identified
  • Compliance officer – those ensuring the safety of everyone and maintain the quality of the aircraft

Aerospace engineers designated at higher positions also have the authority to give a go ahead to an aircraft so that it is ready for service. 

Salary expectations of aerospace engineers 


The average salary of aerospace engineers is around £48,000 per year. Newly qualified aerospace engineers have starting salaries between the range of £25,000 to £28,000 per year. As your work experience increases, so do your expertise, which is why your salary may increase up to £40,000 per year. Those working at senior level positions earn around £78,000 or more per year. 

The salary mentioned above is the base pay. Besides the basic pay, you could also get to enjoy numerous job benefits including bonuses, medical allowances, layover expenses, etc. 



Frequently asked questions 


Is it hard to become an aerospace engineer?

The degrees offered in aerospace engineering are difficult, but they provide the best opportunities for jobs once completed. Being an aerospace engineer requires the person to be highly technical and accurate in their workings. Those employed in the aviation industry require skills including critical thinking and creativity to ensure a successful career.

Is aerospace engineering stressful?

Besides offering numerous opportunities to engineers, aerospace engineering is a tough job. You can’t always work wherever you want to, since the jobs are often available in certain locations. It is even stressful at times, especially when you have to work late hours to finish a project. Report writing or providing technical documents can also be a challenging task for many engineers. 

Do aerospace engineers get paid well?

The salary of an aerospace engineer depends on their experience and qualifications. The average salary of aerospace engineers in the world, specifically in the United States is around $85,354 per annum. The salary package can vary according to different countries and the specific job responsibilities. Some additional training and assessments can also increase your salary. Yet, an engineer can enjoy tons of perks during their employment. 

What exactly do aerospace engineers do?

Aerospace engineers are the ones who design aircrafts, missiles, spacecraft, and satellites. They also develop and create new technologies that are used in the aviation industry, defence systems, as well as spacecraft. Besides manufacturing aircraft and aerospace products, they inspect malfunctions and identify any problems in the aircraft. 

Browse the latest aerospace engineering jobs here.