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What are some pros and cons of aerospace engineering as a career?

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Francisco’s Answer

Hi Matthew!

Aerospace engineering is an amazing field to go into. I am an Industrial Engineer, but have friends in all kinds of engineering fields so these are my opinion based pros and cons for Aerospace:

Pros: Great field of study, exciting projects and problem solving, currently is a growing field with more companies dedicating themselves to space travel, there will always be a need for this as we will only continue to need faster, safer, more efficient aircrafts, there's plenty of organization dedicated to it offering fun and exciting opportunities during and after college, the salary is above average amongst other engineering fields, and it can either be a undergraduate major or something you pursue as a master to specialize.

Cons: Very specific field study which could lead to struggle to finding a job, high level of competition due to increasing amount of candidates, not every college offers an aerospace program so options for school might be more limited, some of the classes can be extremely challenging due to the level of math required.

Overall I'd say it has way more pros than cons, but something I always advise students is to not limit their opportunities by specializing too early. Many students from mechanical engineering or similar fields end up working in aerospace, but their "general" degree allows them to pursue different opportunities, internships, and entry level jobs that allow them to understand other industries like manufacturing which can be the gateway to working for companies like Delta, Boeing, NASA, or SpaceX. Think it this way, any mechanical engineer can become an aerospace engineer, but employers might be discouraged to hire an aerospace engineer to do a mechanical/manufacturing engineering job.

Best of luck!

Francisco hit all the points. The other consideration for students considering engineering is that there will be a large quantity of math involved in many of the classes required early in the undergraduate studies. Take as much Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Advanced Calculous and Derivative math as you can in High School to be well prepared. Any metallurgy, chemistry and drafting classes you can take will help also. Robert Fisher PMP

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Mariah’s Answer

Francisco's answer is great! I'm a program manager now, but I used to be a systems engineer who worked in the Aerospace Industry (military programs). So I'll add some additional Pros and Cons
Pros: You get to work on some really cool, high tech technology. You get a lot of opportunities for hands on engineering. Basically if you want to roll up and get your sleeves dirty, there's opportunities for that and it can be really really cool. The benefits (vacation, health care, etc) are usually really good. You can pretty easily pivot from engineering, to project management, to supply chain, to logistics, etc if you're on a larger program. Getting as high of a security clearance as your program allows is also a really great tool of you need to switch jobs, programs or companies. Once you have a good clearance and a few years of experience, its pretty easy to bounce around and get exposed to some cool experiences.
Cons: You're going to be stuck in locations Aerospace or Military Industrial jobs are. So DC, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, LA. All pretty awesome places, but you won't be able to find as many positions in cities like Austin, Nashville or Chicago. So keep that in mind if you have family or your heart set on a certain part of the country. Also there's a higher likelihood of negative situations if your gender identification, ethnicity, or sexual orientation is not cis, het, male. The old school mindsets are slowly making their way out of the industry and into retirement, and things are a lot more modern then they used to be. But this industry generally lags behind other tech focused industries. These are the two biggest factors that contributed to my leaving the industry and pivoting to program management in the IT industry.
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John’s Answer

The prior answer is a great answer. To add to it, my first electrical engineering position after college was with NASA, and I worked with all types of engineers, including aeronautical and aerospace, electrical , mechanical, and computer engineers/scientists. One 'con' from my view is that the number of positions (and geographical locations) available in aerospace engineering is relatively small compared with the number of computer, mechanical, or electrical engineering positions across all industries. The key point is that you don't necessarily need to be an aerospace engineer to work in an aerospace field, since the field has a need for many other types of engineers. It is a great field and lots of fun, to be sure!
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