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Detailed Guide for

Aerospace Engineers in California

May also be called: Aeronautical Engineers; Aircraft Engineers; Astronautical Engineers; Flight Systems Test Engineers; Flight Test Engineers; Propulsion Engineers

What Would I Do?

It could be said that the first flight of the Wright brothers' airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, was the start of the aerospace industry in the United States. That triumph, long dreamed of by man, was the first of many innovations that came from the American aerospace industry.

Another milestone was achieved by American inventor Robert Goddard, who designed, built, and launched a series of liquid-fueled rockets. Unlike solid-fuel rockets, the liquid-fuel design allowed for the engine to be started, stopped, and restarted, which is vital for maneuvering in space and for mid-flight correction of planetary spacecraft. Most modern rockets are built using Goddard's designs.

Aerospace Engineers of today design, develop, and test aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, and wind turbine blades and rotors, as well as supervise the manufacture of these products. Those who work with aircraft are called Aeronautical Engineers, and those Engineers working with spacecraft are called Aerospace or Astronautical Engineers. Both types of Engineers are grouped under the classification of Aerospace Engineer, because the education, training, and job duties are similar.

Aerospace Engineers develop new technologies for use in aviation, defense systems, and space exploration. They often specialize in areas such as structural design, guidance, navigation and control, instrumentation and communication, or production methods. They may also specialize in a particular type of aerospace product, such as commercial aircraft, military fighter jets, helicopters, spacecraft, or missiles and rockets. Engineers may become experts in aerodynamics, thermodynamics, celestial mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, or guidance and control systems.

Tools and Technology

Aerospace Engineers work on high-end computer servers that have specialized software that allows them to design and test new airplane and rocket components. They also work with graphics, office suite, and project management software. Aerospace Engineers may also use flowmeters, lasers, signal generators, and vibration testers.

Green Economy

Aerospace Engineers will play an important role in the emerging Green Economy. They will assist with the research and design of renewable energy components, and work on activities that relate to increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impacts of various transportation modes, such as airplanes and spacecraft.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Green economy activities and technologies would most likely have an effect on Aerospace Engineers. The advancements in technology may cause changes to the work and worker requirements, such as new tasks, skills, knowledge, and credentials for the Aerospace Engineer. Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Analyze project requests and proposals and engineering data to determine feasibility, productibility, cost, and production time of aerospace or aeronautical product.Deductive Reasoning
Formulate conceptual design of aeronautical or aerospace products or systems to meet customer requirements.Engineering and Technology
Evaluate product data and design from inspections and reports for conformance to engineering principles, customer requirements, and quality standards.Judgment and Decision Making
Plan and conduct experimental, environmental, operational and stress tests on models and prototypes of aircraft and aerospace systems and equipment.Systems Analysis
Develop design criteria for aeronautical or aerospace products or systems, including testing methods, production costs, quality standards, and completion dates.Design
Review performance reports and documentation from customers and field engineers, and inspect malfunctioning or damaged products to determine problem.Written Comprehension
Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify design according to customer engineering requirements.Critical Thinking
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Aerospace Engineers work in a variety of settings, such as office buildings, laboratories, and industrial plants. Some spend part of their workday at testing and production sites. They may also spend much of the time traveling to locations to oversee operations or solve on-site problems. Sometimes they may relocate while working on a project in the United States or abroad.

Most Aerospace Engineers work a standard 40-hour week. Tight schedules or last-minute problems may require the Engineer to work longer hours, evenings, or weekends.

Most Engineers are not members of unions. However, some Aerospace Engineers who are employed by federal, State, or local governments belong to one of several public employee unions.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Aerospace Engineer may appeal to those who enjoy working with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. Engineers search for facts using a variety of sources in order to solve complex engineering problems. They may also work independently or as part of a team.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2016 for Aerospace Engineers in California is $116,393 annually, or $55.96 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Aerospace Engineers usually receive excellent benefits, including health and life insurance, vacation, sick leave, holidays, and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

With the increased focus on environmentally sustainable business practices, it is expected that there may be increased opportunities for Aerospace Engineers as more companies worldwide are “going green.” However, like many occupations, employment may be sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Aerospace Engineers is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Aerospace Engineers are expected to increase by 6.7 percent, or 900 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Aerospace Engineers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 90 new job openings per year is expected for Aerospace Engineers, plus an additional 380 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 470 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Aerospace Engineers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

A bachelor's degree is generally the minimum educational level that employers will consider for a position as an Aerospace Engineer. Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering, design, and computer classes. For college and university faculty positions and research and development programs, a master's or doctorate degree in engineering may be required.


Many employers will hire only those who have at least two years of successful experience in this field. Entry-level engineering graduates usually work under the supervision of an experienced Engineer and in large companies may receive formal classroom or seminar-type training. As new Engineers gain knowledge and experience, they are assigned more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Early Career Planning

High school students planning to become Aerospace Engineers should take advanced mathematics and science courses. Electives in electronics, business, and computer science will provide a valuable background for a successful career.

Work-Study Programs

Some colleges and universities help students find work-study programs or internships. These internships are frequently paid and are an opportunity for the sponsoring organization to recruit future employees.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is currently not a requirement for Aerospace Engineers; however, some Engineers may continue their education through seminars and ongoing training.

Licensing and Certification

While a Professional Engineer's (PE) license is not required for Aerospace Engineers; however, a number of Engineers may possess a PE license in electrical or mechanical engineering which some employers recommend.

To become licensed, Engineers must first pass the Engineer-in-Training or Fundamentals of Engineering examination, which requires at least three years of coursework from a college or university offering an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), or three years of engineering-related experience. The next step in the process is to pass the professional examination which requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited institution, along with two years of eligible engineering experience. Engineers without a bachelor's degree in engineering must possess six years of eligible experience. The engineering license must be renewed every two years.

Some certifications may be required for Aerospace Engineers, such as Project Management Professional, Quality Engineer, and Reliability Engineer Certifications. These certifications are offered by various professional organizations. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Aeronautical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Astronautical Engineering, and Engineers.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Aerospace Engineers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Aerospace Product & Parts Manufacturing 28.7%
Architectural and Engineering Services 12.2%
Federal Government 7.7%
Colleges and Universities 3.4%
Employment Services 1.9%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers is one of the most common and effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through classified advertisements in newspapers, networking, online job boards, and professional engineering organizations. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Aerospace Engineers.

  • Aeronautical Companies
  • Aerospace Companies
  • Aircraft
  • Aircraft Equipment
  • Navigation Instrumentation
  • Spacecraft

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

As Aerospace Engineers gain experience, they may become specialists or supervise a team of Engineers and technicians. Also, numerous professional certifications for Engineers exist and may be beneficial for advancement to senior technical or managerial positions. A master's degree or doctorate degree in aerospace engineering may lead to teaching opportunities.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Aerospace Engineers with links to more information.

Civil EngineersGuide
Electrical EngineersGuide
Industrial EngineersGuide
Marine Engineers and Naval ArchitectsProfile
Materials EngineersProfile
Nuclear EngineersProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification17-2011
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Aerospace Engineers17-2011.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)IRA