Aerospace Engineers: Salary Overview
Aerospace engineers design aircraft, satellites, spacecraft, and missiles and create and test prototypes.
An aerospace engineer’s job description typically includes directing and coordinating the design process, assessing projects to determine if they are feasible, evaluating designs, developing criteria to determine if a design method meets quality standards, and inspecting damaged products to identify the problem and design a solution.
They typically specialize in one of the following fields: aeronautical or astronautical engineering.
Aeronautical engineers design aircraft and propulsion systems while aeronautical engineers study the science and technology of spacecraft and how they perform inside and outside the atmosphere.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for aerospace engineers was $116,500 as of May 2019.
This means that half of all aerospace engineers made less than this amount, while half earned more.
Salaries vary based on a variety of factors and the top 10 percent earned more than $166,620 a year while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $72,450 per year.
Aerospace Engineer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biggest employers for aerospace engineers were the industries of aerospace and parts manufacturing, architectural engineering, and related services, and the federal executive branch.
The average annual wage reported by aerospace engineers who worked for aerospace products and parts manufacturers was $118,260 as of May 2019.
Aerospace engineers who were employed in the industry of architectural, engineering and related services earned, on average, $121,560 per year while those who worked for the federal executive branch reported an average annual wage of $119,040.
The mean annual wage was $124,960 for aerospace engineers who worked for navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturers and $127,800 for those who worked in the field of scientific research and development services.
The highest average annual wage was reported by aerospace engineers who worked for technical and trade schools.
In this field, aerospace engineers earned, on average, $130,810 per year.
Salaries for aerospace engineers also vary depending on the region of employment.
The highest average annual wage was reported by aerospace engineers in the District of Columbia and Maryland.
The average annual wages for aerospace engineers in these states were somewhere in the $130,000-$140,000 range.
Other states where you may have better chances of earning an above-average salary as an aerospace engineer are Texas, Colorado, and California.
Aerospace engineers in West Virginia and Wisconsin, on the other hand, reported an average annual wage that was below the $90,000 mark.
Other factors that influence an aerospace engineer’s salary are the education and experience level but also his/her additional skills.
As an entry-level aerospace engineer, your salary will most probably be close to the minimum for this profession- somewhere in the $70,000 range- but your earnings will increase as you earn a few years of experience.
Although a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related engineering field may be enough for employment, earning a master’s degree or a Ph.D. can significantly improve your earning prospects.
Although this is not usually a requirement, earning a Professional Engineering license can also be a plus that will help you in your career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for aerospace engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2018 to 2028.
Although this expected growth is slower than the average for all occupations, aeronautical engineers will continue to be needed to redesign aircraft that cause less noise pollution and are more efficient in fuel use.
However, the growth will be tempered because the demand for aerospace engineers is expected to decline in the manufacturing sector.
You can improve your earnings and employment prospects by learning software such as C++ and having a background in stress and structural engineering.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Aerospace Engineers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.