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Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers research, design, develop, test, and oversee the manufacture and maintenance of aerospace vehicles and systems (for example, commercial and military aircraft, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), spacecraft and related aerospace equipment).

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Aeronautical Engineer, Aircraft Engineer, Aviation Engineer, Professional Engineer, Spacecraft Design Engineer

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) 
Interest Codes
The Aerospace Engineer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Aerospace Engineers
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

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 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 More

Duties
Updated Aug 02, 2016

Aerospace engineers may specialize in:

  • flight testing or simulation
  • aerodynamics
  • structures and materials
  • structural dynamics
  • mass and weight analysis
  • stress analysis
  • propulsion systems
  • systems analysis
  • avionics systems
  • navigation systems
  • robotics
  • 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, UAVs, surveillance systems, simulators, ground stations, satellites or rockets)
  • armament / ammunition and explosives
  • thermodynamics

Those who specialize in aerodynamics deal with the forces created by motion through the air. They consider this as it relates to aircraft performance. Working with design engineers, they use computers and wind tunnels to simulate flight. This helps them to:

  • design aircraft and rocket vehicles
  • design spacecraft that can fly through the atmosphere
  • analyze and test how airflow affects the structures they design
  • determine the aerodynamic loads used by structural engineers (see below)

Structural engineers determine whether an aircraft or spacecraft will be able to 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 upon existing designs. Design engineers:

  • analyze the limits of aircraft and spacecraft design as it relates to:
    • aerodynamics
    • stability
    • structure
    • materials
    • propulsion systems
  • figure out how the above factors affect the craft, and find ways to reduce their effects
  • conduct fretting fatigue analyses
  • 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
  • test how well aircraft, spacecraft 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 the types of materials to be used in each section of the aircraft or spacecraft. These choices ensure materials used have high strength-to-weight ratios and can resist heat or cold. They:

  • decide which processes will make materials usable without destroying their desired properties (such as heat treating or plating)
  • 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. Project management engineers:

  • estimate costs
  • coordinate work flow
  • 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 Aug 02, 2016

Aerospace engineers work mostly indoors (offices, testing labs, hangars). They use computer programs to model, simulate, calculate and record / analyze data. They may also supervise work carried out at production sites or manufacturing plants, or 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 there are problems with projects. They are under a great deal of pressure to meet deadlines and design standards. Some travel may be required.

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

  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary
Skills & Abilities
Updated Aug 02, 2016

Aerospace engineers need to have:

  • 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
  • a capacity for details.

They should enjoy being innovative, doing work that requires precision, and working in a team setting.

Educational Requirements
Updated Aug 02, 2016

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.

Several Canadian post-secondary schools offer degree programs related to aerospace engineering:

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

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


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Aug 02, 2016

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, you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a professional engineer. You do not have to be registered 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.

What You Need

Registration as a Professional Engineer requires: (1) a 4-year bachelor's degree in a recognized engineering program and at least 4 years of acceptable work experience under the supervision of a Professional Engineer, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, (2) a minimum of 3 acceptable references and (3) successful completion of an approved examination in law, ethics and professionalism. A new Provisional Member category has been introduced. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit APEGA's website or contact APEGA.

Working in Alberta

Engineers who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered engineers in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Licensing Process on AlbertaCanada.com.

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 4A2
Phone number: 780-426-3990
Toll-free phone number (within North America): 1-800-661-7020
Fax: 780-426-1877
Email: email@apega.ca
Website: www.apega.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Aug 02, 2016

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 and Medicine Hat, Alberta; and Richmond and Kelowna, British Columbia.

Aerospace engineers usually start out being directly supervised by senior engineers. With experience and a good track record, they are given more responsibilities. They may be promoted to positions such as project manager, department head, division manager and vice president.

Aerospace engineers may be delegated by the Minister of Transportation to approve design changes to aeronautical products. Legislation governing such delegation can be found in the Canadian Airworthiness Manual. Depending on the level of delegation granted by the Minister of Transportation, there can be a significant increase in opportunities for advancement or entrepreneurship.

In Alberta, 84% of people employed as aerospace engineers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Aug 02, 2016

According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group earned on average from $47.14 to $55.01 an hour. The overall average wage was $54.82 an hour. More recent data is not available.

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Design Studies
  • Natural Resources
    • Environmental Stewardship
  • Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Aug 02, 2016

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

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 14, 2018. 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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