Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Aerospace Engineering Technician Jobs

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Top 3 Aerospace Operation Technician Jobs

  • Swiss CAM Machine Setup - Sorenson Engineering - Yucaipa, CA

    Verify conformance of product in accordance with quality plans (i.e., using visual inspection techniques, microscopes, micrometers, automated

  • CNC Machine Setup - Sorenson Engineering - Yucaipa, CA

    Verify conformance of product in accordance with quality plans (i.e., using visual inspection techniques, microscopes, micrometers, automated

  • Quality Technician 1 - Sanmina - San Jose, CA

    Nature of Duties/Responsibilities: We are

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What Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians Do[About this section] [To Top]

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in testing new aircraft and spacecraft. Increasingly, these workers are being required to program and run computer simulations that test new designs. Their work is critical in preventing the failure of key parts of new aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also help in the quality assurance, testing, and operation of advanced technology equipment used in producing aircraft and the systems that go into the aircraft.

Duties of Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Aerospace engineering and operations 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 requirements
  • Ensure 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, because the failure of key parts during flight can be fatal. As part of the job, 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.

Some aerospace engineering and operations technicians are beginning to specialize in three-dimensional printing, or additive manufacturing, as this technology becomes more common in the work they do.

Work Environment for Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians hold about 11,400 jobs. The industries that employ the most aerospace engineering and operations technicians are as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 33%
Engineering services 18
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 17
Testing laboratories 16
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 5

They usually work in manufacturing or industrial plants, laboratories, and offices. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians who work in manufacturing or industrial plants are frequently directly involved in assembling aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Many are exposed to hazards from equipment or from toxic materials, but incidents are rare as long as proper procedures are followed.

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician Work Schedules

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians have opportunities for employment throughout the private sector, with large and small manufacturing organizations, as well as with engineering services firms. Schedules worked tend to parallel those of the other engineering and operations staff members, and most work full time.

How to Become an Aerospace Engineering or Operations Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians near you!

Many employers prefer to hire aerospace engineering and operations technicians who have earned an associate’s degree in engineering technology. Prospective technicians also may earn certificates or diplomas offered by vocational or technical schools. Some aerospace engineering and operations 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 clearances.

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians Education

High school students interested in becoming aerospace engineering and operations technicians should take classes in math, science, and, if available, drafting and computer skills. Courses that help students develop skills working with their hands also are valuable, because these technicians build what aerospace engineers design. In addition, technicians should have a basic understanding of computers and programs in order to model or simulate products.

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians typically need to earn an associate’s degree or a graduate certificate from a community college or vocational–technical school. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework and programs. Community colleges typically award an associate’s degree. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary public institutions that emphasize training needed by local employers. Students who complete these programs typically receive a diploma or certificate.

The Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits programs that include at least college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science courses.

Many vocational and community colleges offer cooperative programs with work experience built into the curriculum.

Important Qualities of Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians

Communication skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians receive instructions from aerospace engineers. Therefore, they must be able to understand and follow those instructions, as well as communicate any problems to their supervisors.

Critical-thinking skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians must be able to help aerospace engineers troubleshoot particular design issues. They must be able to help evaluate system capabilities, identify problems, formulate the right question, and then find the right answer.

Detail oriented. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians make and keep precise measurements needed by aerospace engineers. Consequently, they must make correct measurements and keep accurate records.

Interpersonal skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians must be able to take instructions and offer advice. The ability to work well with supervising engineers, other technicians, and mechanics is essential because technicians interact with people from other divisions, businesses, and governments.

Math skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians use the principles of mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting tasks in their work.

Mechanical skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians must be able to assist aerospace engineers by building what the engineers design. Mechanical skills are needed to help with the processes and directions required to move from design to production.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required for the job, certification is offered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Certification may be beneficial because it shows employers that a technician can carry out the theoretical designs of aerospace engineers.

Both companies and the FAA seek to ensure the highest standards for the safety of the aircraft. SpaceTEC, the National Science Foundation’s Center for Aerospace Technical Education, coordinates a nationwide program through community and technical colleges to help students prepare for certification.

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for aerospace engineering and operations technicians is $63,780. 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 $38,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $93,330.

The median annual wages for aerospace engineering and operations technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Aerospace product and parts manufacturing $69,400
Computer and electronic product manufacturing 67,180
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 60,440
Engineering services 59,550
Testing laboratories 56,350

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians are employed throughout the private sector, with large and small manufacturing organizations, as well as with engineering services firms. Schedules worked tend to parallel those of the other engineering and operations staff members, and most work full time.

Job Outlook for Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of aerospace engineering and operations technicians is projected to grow 4 percent through 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work on many projects related to national defense and therefore require security clearances. This restriction will help to keep jobs in the United States. In addition, aircraft are being redesigned to cut down on noise pollution and to raise fuel efficiency. Need for such redesigns should raise demand for research and development, particularly in support of air transportation.

Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work mainly in national defense–related projects or in constructing civilian aircraft. These technicians also are employed in the rising market for pilotless aerial vehicles. Successful research and development projects, ranging from more efficient propulsion systems to new air transport concepts, will result in new product lines and create demand for these workers.

Those who work on engines or propulsion will be increasingly needed as design and production emphasis shifts to rebuilding existing aircraft so that they give off less noise while using less fuel. Opportunities for employment with civilian space companies should increase as spaceflight shifts to the civilian market from government agencies.

However, aerospace engineering and operations technicians also are working to improve productivity through the use of automation and robotics, and the increased productivity likely will reduce low-end production employment in this occupation. Another factor that may slow growth in the occupation is the continuing adoption of computational fluid dynamics software. This technology has lowered testing costs and has replaced more traditional testing. As a result, these technicians will see a shift toward more high-end technology tasks.

Employment projections data for Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians 11,400 11,800 4 400


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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