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What Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians Do About this section

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians
Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians work to make sure that testing goes smoothly.

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians install, run, and maintain equipment used to develop, test, produce, and sustain aircraft and spacecraft. Their work is critical to ensuring the safety and precision of key parts of these vehicles and systems.

Duties

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Meet with aerospace engineers to discuss details and implications of test procedures
  • Build and maintain test facilities for aircraft systems
  • Make and install parts and systems to be tested in test equipment
  • Operate and calibrate computer systems so that they comply with test and manufacturing requirements
  • Make sure that test procedures are performed smoothly and safely
  • Record data from test parts and assemblies
  • Install instruments in aircraft and spacecraft
  • Monitor and ensure quality in producing systems that go into the aircraft

New aircraft designs undergo years of testing before they are put into service. As part of the job, technologists and technicians often calibrate test equipment, such as wind tunnels, and determine the causes of equipment malfunctions. They also may program and run computer simulations that test the new designs.

Work Environment About this section

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians
Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians install instruments in aircraft and spacecraft.

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians held about 11,900 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 35%
Engineering services 22
Scientific research and development services 12
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 8

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians who work in manufacturing or industrial plants are frequently involved in assembly.

Work Schedules

Most aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians work full time. Depending on the employer or project, they may work in shifts or be required to work overtime.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologist or Technician About this section

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians
Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians work to prevent the failure of key parts of new aircraft, spacecraft, or missiles.

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians typically need an associate’s degree in engineering technology or a related field. Some employers consider candidates who have a high school diploma or have completed a certificate program. Some aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians must have security clearances to work on projects related to national defense. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearance.

Education

High school students interested in becoming an aerospace engineering and operations technologist or technician should take classes in math, science, and, if available, drafting and information technology.

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians typically need an associate’s degree in engineering technology or a related field. Some employers consider candidates who have a high school diploma or have completed a certificate program. Associate’s degree and certificate programs are available at community colleges or vocational–technical schools.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians must be able to follow instructions from aerospace engineers. They also need to clearly convey problems to their supervisors.

Detail oriented. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians take precise measurements needed by aerospace engineers. In addition, they must keep accurate records of these measurements.

Interpersonal skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians must be able to work well with others. They interact with people from other divisions, businesses, and governments.

Math skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians use mathematics for measurement, analysis, design, and troubleshooting tasks.

Mechanical skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians assist aerospace engineers by building what the engineers design. They need technical skills to guide processes from design to production.

Problem-solving skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians help aerospace engineers troubleshoot design issues. They must be able to help evaluate system capabilities, formulate questions, and then find the answers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required for the job, SpaceTEC, the National Science Foundation’s Center for Aerospace Technical Education, offers the Certified Aerospace Technician Core Certification. Recertification is required every 3 years.

Pay About this section

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2021

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians

$73,580

Drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians

$60,290

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians was $73,580 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $103,260.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing $77,800
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 74,410
Engineering services 62,730
Scientific research and development services 62,410

Most aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians work full time. Depending on the employer or project, they may work in shifts or be required to work overtime.

Job Outlook About this section

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

Drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians

2%

 

Employment of aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 1,200 openings for aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Most employment growth for these workers will be in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.

Employment projections data for aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians

17-3021 11,900 12,900 9 1,100 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about accredited aeronautics and engineering programs, visit

ABET

For more information about careers in engineering, visit

Technology Student Association

For more information about certification, visit

SpaceTEC

CareerOneStop

For a career video on aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians, visit

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

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Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technologists and Technicians

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