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Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers research, design, develop, test, and oversee the manufacture and maintenance of aerospace vehicles and systems.

Also Known As

Aeronautical Engineer, Aircraft Engineer, Aviation Engineer, Professional Engineer, Aerospace Engineer, Space Engineer, Satellite Engineering

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Aerospace Engineers (2146) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Aerospace Engineers (C046) 
  • 2011 NOC: Aerospace engineers (2146) 
  • 2016 NOC: Aerospace engineers (2146) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Aerospace Engineers

2006 NOC: 2146

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to investigate, report and recommend corrective actions for structural, component and system failures, and to develop operational specifications and maintenance schedules

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to develop and conduct computer simulations using advanced mathematical modelling

DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising and co-ordinating the manufacturing, assembly, modification, repair and overhaul of aircraft and spacecraft; and in co-ordinating ground and flight tests

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Aerospace engineers work on:

  • Commercial and military aircraft
  • Rockets
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)
  • Spacecraft
  • Satellites and related aerospace equipment

Aerospace engineers may specialize in:

  • Flight testing or simulation
  • Aerodynamics
  • Astrodynamics
  • Fluid dynamics, including engines, internal flow and pressurization, and cooling systems
  • Structures and materials
  • Structural dynamics
  • Mass and weight analysis
  • Stress analysis
  • Propulsion systems
  • Systems engineering
  • Avionics systems
  • Guidance and navigation systems
  • Radio communication system design and operation
  • Robotics
  • Autonomation (a quality control feature) and autonomous systems
  • Human factors and safety systems
  • Project management
  • Maintenance
  • Component and system design
  • Qualification testing of components
  • Stability, control, and performance of flight systems
  • Manufacturing: machining, forming, and joining aerospace materials and composites
  • Related products (such as military aircraft, helicopters, remote piloted aircraft, surveillance systems, simulators, ground stations, satellites, or rockets)
  • Armament / ammunition and explosives
  • Thermodynamics
  • Interplanetary exploration

Aerodynamics engineers deal with the forces created by motion through air as it relates to aircraft performance and the pilot. Working with design engineers, they use computers and wind tunnels to simulate flight and resulting fluid dynamics. This helps them to:

  • Design aircraft and rocket vehicles
  • Design spacecraft that can fly through the atmosphere
  • Analyze and test how flow dynamics affect the structures they design
  • Determine the aerodynamic loads used by structural engineers (see below)

Structural engineers determine whether an aircraft or spacecraft can safely carry the loads it is designed to carry. Through structural and stress analysis and testing, they figure out safety margins for aircraft, rockets, and spacecraft.

Design engineers design and develop new aircraft, spacecraft, and their components. They also improve on existing designs. Design engineers:

  • Analyze the limits of aircraft and spacecraft design as they relate to aerodynamics, stability, structure, materials, and propulsion systems
  • Figure out how the above factors affect the craft, and find ways to reduce their effects
  • Analyze fretting fatigue (the forming and spreading of stress cracks)
  • Plan the timing of engineering and design tasks to avoid manufacturing problems and reduce effects on the environment
  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create drawings and standards for performance from design specifications

Aerospace engineers specialize in experimental testing. They build models and analyze prototypes to test the aerodynamics, stability, control, propulsion, and structural performance of a proposed design. They change the design and study test results to find out how factors like weight distribution affect the design.

They also test how well aircraft, spacecraft, engines, or components will perform by:

  • Finding out the conditions in which the vehicles will most likely operate
  • Recording the conditions when the vehicles are tested

Materials engineers select heat- and cold-resistant materials with high strength-to-weight ratios for each section of the aircraft or spacecraft. They:

  • Decide which processes (such as heat treating or plating) will make materials usable without destroying their desired properties
  • Prepare specifications and procedures for using each material and treatment process
  • Advise the engineering, manufacturing, and quality control departments on the properties, application, treatment, salvage, and substitution of materials

Project management engineers develop work plans and schedules to ensure that quality products are produced on time without cost increases. They:

  • Manage projected product costs
  • Coordinate workflow
  • Work with other engineers to solve technical problems related to production
  • Apply ISO (International Organization for Standardization) principles and procedures
  • Supervise each stage of the production process to make sure production schedules are met until the project is completed
Working Conditions
Updated Apr 05, 2022
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary

Aerospace engineers work mostly indoors in offices, testing labs, and hangars. They use computer programs to model, simulate, calculate, record, and analyze data. They may supervise work carried out at production sites or manufacturing plants. They may also work at a field site such as a launching pad.

Aerospace engineers may have to work overtime to meet project deadlines. Project managers may be called back to work when problems arise with projects. They must deal with a lot of pressure regarding deadlines and design standards. They may need to travel.

Although rare, an aerospace engineer may work alone. More often, they work as part of a larger team of specialists. As a direct supervisor, they may have a team of skilled technicians reporting to them.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Aerospace engineers need:

  • Inquiring, creative, and inventive minds
  • Patience, motivation, determination, and perseverance
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • An aptitude for math and science
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • An ability to focus on details

They should enjoy:

  • Being innovative
  • Doing precision work
  • Working in a team setting
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 05, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

The minimum educational requirement for an entry-level job as an aerospace engineer is a 4-year bachelor’s degree in engineering or applied science. Most advanced specialist engineers in the aerospace industry have at least a master’s degree. Aerospace engineers who do research and development often have doctoral (PhD) degrees.

A high school graduate may enroll in any undergraduate-level engineering or science program and then specialize in aerospace engineering at the post-graduate level. Several universities have mechanical engineering programs with some emphasis on aeronautical and aerospace disciplines.

As well, several Canadian post-secondary schools offer degree programs related to aerospace engineering:

For current information about programs, admission requirements, and mature student admission policies please check post-secondary calendars or websites.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 05, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Engineer

Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor, and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes, and structures.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering.

You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Employment in aerospace engineering is concentrated in cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, and Winnipeg, and on military bases. There is some aerospace-related activity in:

  • Amherst and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, Alberta
  • Richmond and Kelowna, British Columbia

Aerospace engineers usually start out under the direct supervision of senior engineers. With experience and a good track record, they receive more responsibilities. They may be promoted to positions such as project manager, department head, division manager, and vice president.

The Minister of Transportation may delegate aerospace engineers to approve design changes to aeronautical products. Legislation governing such delegation can be found in the Canadian Airworthiness Manual. Opportunities for advancement or entrepreneurship depend on the level of delegation granted by the Minister of Transportation, and can be significant.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2146: Aerospace engineers occupational group, 80.8% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Incomes in this occupation vary considerably. No current salary data is available.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Aviation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Aerospace Engineering Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) website: forces.ca/en/career/aerospace-engineering-officer/

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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