Hands up if you desperately wanted to be an astronaut when you were growing up? It’s easy to get all starry-eyed about the idea of exploring space for a living. But if you’re finding that your astro-obsession is not just a fleeting infatuation, aerospace engineering jobs might be your calling. Here’s how you can break into space and aerospace engineering careers, whether that’s at university, in your spare time, or with your feet planted firmly on the ground!
What is aerospace engineering?
If it’s A) mechanical and B) floating around in the air, you can be sure that aerospace engineering jobs have something to do with it. Think satellites, aeroplanes, or the International Space Station.
Aerospace engineering is broken up into two disciplines: aeronautical engineering, and astronautical engineering, but you might find that the two tend to overlap. Aeronautical engineering generally deals with aircraft, while astronautical engineers deal with spacecraft. Both disciplines have the opportunity to design, create, test or operate these mechanical crafts, meaning you have infinite career opportunities if you choose to explore aerospace engineering.
How do I get involved?
If you’re serious about aerospace engineering jobs, there’s only one way to get there: studying an undergraduate degree. With an undergraduate degree, you could be earning a starting salary of $68k per year as a grad!
Consider studying a Master’s degree if you’d like to become an expert in a single area of aerospace engineering, e.g. propulsion or fluid dynamics. You’ll also maximise your earning potential, and expand your career opportunities to include academia and research.
Whatever you choose to study, make sure you’re keen on delving deep into physics, maths and computer science. These subjects tend to underpin study in aerospace engineering.
2. Join a uni club
Developing your tinkering skills outside of class will give you a head start on getting those aerospace engineering jobs. Or, if space is just your hobby, it’ll give you an in without the commitment of a degree. UNSW has BlueSat, and the University of Adelaide has the Adelaide University Space Society, just to name a few.
Students from BlueSat get to learn practical skills for developing Mars rovers, for example. They’ve also sent objects into space using high-altitude balloons!
You can usually join these clubs with any undergraduate degree. Check out your university’s club directory to find out more about opportunities near you.
3. Join a recreational team
Still in high school but want to join in on the out-of-this-world fun? Consider joining a recreational team that gives you hands-on experience to add to your aerospace resume.
Cuberider is an educational company founded by an aerospace engineer that gives high school students the opportunity to create science experiments to send off into space. The fun doesn’t stop there – the experiments collect useful data on whatever the students want to know more about. You don’t have to be super science-y to join in, says Cuberider founder Solange Cunin. It’s all about having fun and kicking goals rather than hard-core science or coding.
How will you get involved in aerospace engineering? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.