AMU Editor's Pick Original Space

What Do You Need for a Career in the Aerospace Industry?

By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, In Space News

The aerospace industry employs a wide number of people. For example, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) hires people from multiple fields, including:

  • Astronauts
  • Aerospace engineers
  • Scientists
  • Information technology (IT) specialists
  • Accountants
  • Writers
  • Technicians

Similarly, government contractors — such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus and Northrop Grumman — hire employees from divergent fields. For instance, Lockheed Martin seeks employees such as chemical engineers, managers, electrical engineers and information assurance engineers.

Faculty member David Syndergaard of AMU’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) says, “The space industry is growing. As a result, both government and commercial space entities — such as the Department of Defense and SpaceX — are on the lookout for people educated and experienced in many areas of the space field. These areas include space launch, satellite operations, satellite communication, spacecraft payload and subsystem design, and orbital analysis.”

Where Are These Aerospace Jobs Located?

The location of aerospace jobs typically depends on the organization’s size and where its offices are situated. For instance, many federal agency and government contractor jobs are located around the Washington, DC metro area. Other jobs may be found around the country in states such as Colorado, Texas, California and Florida.

Education for an Aerospace Career

Depending upon the job you seek in the aerospace industry, the amount of education you need will vary. For a job as an aerospace engineer, for example, CareerBuilder notes that a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, computer science, software engineering, mechanical engineering, physics or applied physics is required.

A master’s degree, an internship or a professional engineering license is also helpful on your path toward a job in aerospace. Dave Syndergaard also points out, “A broad knowledge of space history, exploration, operations and current events never hurts, either.”

Soft Skills Useful in the Aerospace Industry

In addition to knowledge of math, science and engineering, employees in this field also require soft skills to enable projects to be completed on time and to communicate information to others. Typical soft skills include:

  • Logical thinking
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills
  • Excellent time management
  • Good oral and written communication

Is a Security Clearance Required?

Some jobs involving national defense projects require a security clearance. According to ClearanceJobs, there are three types of security clearance:

  • Confidential
  • Secret
  • Top Secret

An applicant for a security clearance is typically sponsored by the employer. The applicant must complete a personnel security questionnaire, undergo a thorough background investigation and go through interviews.

Most Importantly, Aerospace Jobs Require Passion for the Field

Solving problems, managing projects, leading others and analysis are all a part of the aerospace industry. If you find these aspects of an aerospace career appealing, you may want to investigate seeking a job in this field.

Wes O'Donnell

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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