Aerospace engineers are actual rocket scientists.

They design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and various forms of rocketry. They also test prototypes to make sure they function according to design. Aerospace engineers usually specialize in one of two types of engineering:

Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft. They design propulsion systems and study the aerodynamic performance of aircraft and construction materials. For example, some aeronautical engineers:

  • Design cockpit instrumentation
  • Develop crop dusting kits for light aircraft
  • Design, develop and test civilian and military aircraft

Astronautical engineers work to ensure the optimal performance of spacecraft and rockets inside and outside the earth’s atmosphere. For example, some astronautical engineers:

  • Put a man on the moon
  • Design the Space Shuttle
  • Develop and design the Mars Curiosity Rover


Bachelor’s degree programs include classroom, laboratory and field studies in subjects such as general engineering principles, propulsion, stability and control, structures, mechanics and aerodynamics, which is the study of how air interacts with moving objects.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Aerospace Engineers

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