Nature of the Work
Aerospace engineers design, develop, test, and help produce commercial and military aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. They develop new technologies in commercial aviation, defense systems, and space exploration, often specializing in areas like structural design, navigational guidance and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods. They also may specialize in one type of aerospace product, such as passenger planes, helicopters, satellites, or rockets.
Aerospace engineers held 78,500 jobs in 1990. Two-thirds were in the aircraft and parts and guided missile and space vehicle manufacturing industries. Federal Government agencies, primarily the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, provided almost 1 out of 10 jobs. career and engineering consulting firms, communications equipment manufacturing firms, and commercial airlines accounted for most of the remainder.
California, Washington, and Texas, States with large aerospace manufacturers, have the most aerospace engineers.
Employment of aerospace engineers is growing about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2000. Although Defense Department expenditures for military aircraft, missiles, and other aerospace systems are not expected to grow much, faster growth is expected in the civilian sector. Much of the present fleet of airliners will be replaced with quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft, and there will be increased demand for spacecraft, helicopters, and career aircraft. Future growth of aerospace engineer employment could be limited because a higher proportion of engineers in aerospace manufacturing may be materials, mechanical or electrical engineers. Most job openings will result from the need to replace aerospace engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Since a large proportion of aerospace engineering jobs are defense related, cutbacks in defense spending can result in layoffs of aerospace engineers.
Sources of Additional Information
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., 1633 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10019.
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