How Long Does It Take To Get An Aerospace Engineering Degree?

When it comes to designing spacecraft, helicopters, airplanes and other aerospace products, aerospace engineers are the go-to guys. They study project proposals to determine if these are safe and can be carried out with the resources at hand. Whether they are working with airplanes or space vehicles, they see to it that these are able to meet quality standards and that the products can be completed on time and within budget.

Designing aerospace products—which also include satellites, missiles and other defense systems—is no easy task. This is why aspiring aerospace engineers have to get the necessary training and education that will equip them with the fundamental skills they need to learn to fulfill their tasks. A typical aerospace engineering program will teach students basic engineering topics like thermodynamics, statics and materials science as well as topics that are specific to the discipline they wish to focus in.

Those who are interested in aeronautics which deals primarily with aircraft that fly within the earth’s atmosphere have classes on flight mechanics, aerodynamics and stability and control, among others. Those who concentrate on astronautics which deals with spacecraft that fly outside the earth’s atmosphere learn about rocket propulsion, orbital mechanics, space structures and space environment, among others.

A bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or other engineering courses which can also qualify one for entry-level jobs in the industry typically takes four years to finish. Those who are not yet ready to enroll in a four-year bachelor’s degree may take up engineering technology programs that last for two years and allow them to obtain an associate’s degree. Most employers in the aerospace industry prefer to hire those who have bachelor’s degrees.

There are universities that have programs which award students with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree upon graduation. These programs typically take five years to complete. When taken on its own, a master’s degree can take another two to three years to finish after a bachelor’s degree. Those who are intent on pursuing a doctoral degree in engineering will have to allocate two to three more years to finish their degrees.

Most bachelor’s and combined bachelor’s-and-master’s degree programs allow students to gain practical experience in the industry while they are studying. Through internships and cooperative programs, students do not only get the chance to gain real-life experience about the work of aerospace engineers, they are also given the opportunity to fund at least a portion of their education.

Obtaining postgraduate studies is a must for aerospace engineers who want to go into the academe to teach. It is also necessary for those who wish to conduct research studies.

While it is not necessary for aerospace engineers at the beginning of their careers to obtain a license, having one becomes more important as aerospace engineers advance in their profession. They earn the Professional Engineer license after passing two main tests.

To become eligible for licensure, they first need to graduate from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Once they have obtained their bachelor’s degree, they can take the first test on the Fundamentals of Engineering which will give them the designation of engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs) when they pass it. Afterwards, they would get the necessary work experience in the field. They can then take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam which would give them the Professional Engineer designation upon passing. In many states, professional engineers must meet continuing education requirements so they can keep their licenses.

Career Spotlight: Aerospace Engineer

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