Aeronautical Engineering is a subset of engineering that tackles the development of spacecraft and aircraft. It is sometimes referred to casually as rocket science. Some of the areas that you’ll study in the field include:

  • Propulsion: the energy required to move a vehicle through the air, or outer space.
  • Aircraft Structures: the physical design of aircraft necessary to withstand forces it encounters during flight.
  • Materials Science: what specific physical properties are used in aircraft construction.
  • Mathematics: like calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations.
  • Fluid Mechanics: the study of forces that flow around an object, specifically air over wings, or through objects like wind tunnels.
  • Electrotechnology: electronics and how they’re used in engineering.

These are just a few of the subjects you’ll study in a graduate aeronautical and manufacturing engineering degree. This is an incredibly complex field intended for students who have excelled in math and science courses, and who likely have some experience in the aerospace, aeronautical, manufacturing, and engineering industries.

On this list we’ve ranked 20 of the Top Online Masters Degrees in Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering. We rated the schools on this list based on their cost (which is approximate), their US News & World Report ranking, their flexibility for working, distance learners, and the special features they offer. Let’s check out the list:

1) Purdue University

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Purdue is a public, research university in West Lafayette, Indiana. It was founded in 1869. It’s the flagship university of the Purdue University system, one of the largest university systems in the country. Its main campus serves over 44,400 students, and has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It has excellent programs in accounting, business administration, computer science, engineering, agriculture, and more. Its engineering school has been nicknamed the “Cradle of Astronauts.” US News & World Report ranked Purdue University tied 57th overall in National Universities for 2020.

What You’ll Study:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Dynamics and Control
  • Aerospace Systems
  • Structures & Materials
  • Astrodynamics & Space Applications
  • Propulsion

Purdue offers an Online Master of Aeronautics & Astronautics Engineering. Its school of Aeronautics and Astronautics is considered among the best in the nation and is currently ranked 5th by USNR. This 30-credit hour non-thesis degree program lets students opt for either a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (MSAA) or an Interdisciplinary Master of Science in Engineering (MSE/MS) with a focus in Aeronautics and Astronautics. It’s extremely flexible, and students will be able to create a personalized plan of study and completion timeline. Most students opt to take one class at a time to continue meeting their ongoing responsibilities.

2) Iowa State University

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Iowa State University is based in Ames, Iowa. It was founded in 1858. ISU is a public research university and a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). The AAU is an association of 62 premier North American research universities. Iowa State has been labeled an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University.” It serves nearly 35,000 students, offering a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In 2020, ISU ranked 121st among National Universities by USNR. ISU built the first electronic digital computer, invented in the late ’30s and early ’40s. It was also instrumental in developing nuclear weapons while working on the Manhattan Project.

What You’ll Study:

This program doesn’t have a required curriculum. Instead, students can opt to specialize in areas like:

  • Aerospace Systems Design
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Control Systems
  • Wind Engineering
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Atmospheric and Space Flight Dynamics
  • Structural Analysis
  • Non-destructive Evaluation
  • Among other options.

ISU offers an Aerospace Engineering Master’s Degree Online. It’s based on research and education offered through individual faculty. Students will need to take 30 semester hours of graduate work, but the work they do will be largely up to them and the faculty they work with. This program comes in two forms: a Master of Science degree program that’s research-focused and builds towards a thesis, and a Master of Engineering program that has less research and more course work. The flexibility and ability to create a curriculum that suits your goals separates this program from many like it.

3) University of North Dakota

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The University of North Dakota is a public university in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was founded in 1883, six years before North Dakota earned statehood. Almost 14,000 students attend UND. The school offers more than 225 distinct programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It’s primarily known for its programs in areas like engineering, aerospace, automatic aerial systems, medicine, nursing, education, social work, business, and the arts. USNR has ranked the school 263rd among National Universities, and 128th in Top Public Schools.

What You’ll Study:

  • Aviation Economics
  • Aviation Research Methods
  • Aviation Management Theory
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Aviation Safety Management Systems
  • Ethics in Aerospace
  • Human Error
  • Airline Labor Relations and Law
  • And much more

UND offers an Online Aviation Master’s Program that can lead to a Master of Science Degree. It readies graduates to work in corporate aviation, airport management, do significant research, and solve pressing problems in the aviation industry. Students can specialize in areas like Safety, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Management, and Human Factors by completing 9 credits of coursework in one of these specialization areas. The program is offered in synchronous online classes, allowing students to attend virtual classrooms and learn alongside peers with face-to-face interaction with fellow students and professors alike. This will enable students to earn their degree from anywhere, and there are three start dates a year for this program.

4) University of Florida

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UF is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. It was founded in 1853 and is based in Gainesville, Florida. Over 52,200 students attend the school, which has an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. UF is a public, sea-grant, space-grant, and land-grant research school that has an excellent academic reputation. It is known for its degrees in engineering, environmental management in agriculture and natural resources, health education, biology, entomology, among many others. The University of Florida is also frequently ranked as one of the best value schools in the country by outlets like the Princeton Review and Smart Money Magazine. In 2020 it was ranked the eighth-best National University by USNR.

What You’ll Study:

  • Dynamics, Systems, and Control (DSC)
  • Solid Mechanics, Design, and Manufacturing (SMDM)
  • Thermal Science and Fluid Dynamics (TSFD)

UF offers an Online Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering or Aerospace Engineering. It requires 30 total credit hours. Students can take this degree in either a thesis option requiring 24 credits of coursework and six credits of thesis research. They can also opt for a non-thesis degree. In both, 18 credits must come from courses directly related to the major. Up to 12 may be chosen from technical classes in other fields to satisfy requirements.

5) University of California- Los Angeles

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UCLA is a public university founded in 1919. Over 44,500 students attend the school, which has an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s known for its prestigious schools like its Anderson School of Management, Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Law, and David Geffen School of Medicine. Students can access 240 undergraduate and graduate majors. Over half of their graduates leave UCLA with research experiences in humanities, social sciences, and STEM.

What You’ll Study:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Propulsion
  • Systems and Control
  • Structures and Dynamics
  • Linear Dynamic Systems
  • Linear Optimal Control
  • Among many others

UCLA offers an Online Master of Science in Engineering – Aerospace. It’s customizable to let students have more choice over their degree path. Its goal is to give students the knowledge and experience they need in major technical areas to fulfill the ongoing and expected needs of the aerospace industry. Students must complete 36 units or nine courses. Five of these courses must be at the 200 level or above, complete a Capstone Project, and meet the Comprehensive Exam Requirement to graduate.

6) University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

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The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is a public research university founded in 1867. Its flagship campus is divided between the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. The system is comprised of 15 schools and colleges. USNR ranked it 48th among National Universities in 2020. Over 49,700 students attend Illinois, which has a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Urbana-Champaign’s illustrious alumni include 22 Pulitzer Prize winners.

What You’ll Study:

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Dynamics and Controls
  • Solid Mechanics and Materials
  • Mathematics

Illinois offers an Online MS in Aerospace Engineering. It’s a non-thesis, non-research program that can be satisfied completely online. Students can supplement the required courses by opting for a specialization in one or more of the following areas: Aerodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Combustion/propulsion, Structural Mechanics, Solid Mechanics and Materials, Dynamical Systems, Aerospace Control, Orbital Mechanics, and Spacecraft. This degree requires 32 credit hours of coursework. It must be completed within five years.

7) Johns Hopkins University

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Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. It was founded in 1876, with an endowment from John Hopkins. Hopkins was a renowned entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist. Johns Hopkins is a spectacularly prestigious university and is ranked 10th among National Universities by USNR for 2020. Over 26,100 students attend Johns Hopkins, enjoying a cozy 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s primarily known for its excellent Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Education, Whiting School of Engineering, and School of Medicine.

What You’ll Study:

  • Systems Engineering for Space
  • Fundamentals of Engineering Space Systems
  • Applications of Space Systems Engineering
  • Small Satellite Development and Experimentation

Johns Hopkins offers an Online Space Systems, Space Science, and Aerospace Master’s Degree. This program can be completed in virtual classrooms but requires two lab courses taken on the weekends at John Hopkins’ Homewood campus. The curriculum was created to give students an in-depth comprehension of space systems quality assurance, its implementation, and developing spacecraft and space-borne sensors efficiently. Students can take an Aerospace Engineering specialization and minor in Space Science and Engineering. Overall this program is space-focused and offers both part and full-time study options.

8) University of Washington

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The University of Washington is based in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 1861. It’s one of the first colleges on the West Coast and is a member of the Association of American Universities. 47,400 students attend UW, which offers a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s known for its research and School of Medicine, College of Engineering, and Michael G. Foster School of Business. US News & World Report ranked UW 62nd among National Universities in its 2020 rankings. Both its programs and the UW are persistently ranked in the top 100 in rankings from USNR, Washington Monthly, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, World Reputation Rankings, and QS World University Rankings.

What You’ll Study:

  • Analytical Methods
  • Concentrations in: Controls, Fluids, Structures, and Composites

UW offers an Online Master of Aerospace Engineering. It’s offered part-time or full-time and is generally completed in three years. It focuses on applied skills and experiences necessary for professionals in the field. There’s also a Master of Science in Aeronautics & Astronautics offered through the school that focuses on research. Students choose concentrations in one of the areas above. They also take electives in other technical areas to increase the breadth of their education. Each quarter students are offered access to an Aerospace Engineering Colloquium feature guest lecturers about a range of aerospace engineering topics.

9) University of Alabama

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The University of Alabama was founded in 1831. It’s a public university known for its stellar academics, wildly successful football program, and devote attendees, faculty, and alumni. Over 21,900 students attend the school, which boasts a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. US News & World Report has ranked it 153rd among National Universities in 2020. Popular majors include Business, Management, Marketing, Engineering, Communication, Journalism, Family, and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences, and Health Professions.

What You’ll Study:

  • Orbital Mechanics
  • Space Systems
  • Airfoil and Wing Theory
  • Advanced Dynamics of Flight
  • And much more

Alabama offers an Online MS in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics. The program comes in thesis and non-thesis tracks. Students must complete 30 credit hours to graduate. The program was designed for maximum flexibility to create leaders in aerospace and mechanics. Students will take a significant amount of electives and fulfill mathematics requirements. The degree will then build towards either researching, writing, and defending a thesis, or completing a comprehensive exam or culminating experience to earn their degree.

10) University of Southern California

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USC is a private research university based in Los Angeles. Founded in 1880, it’s the oldest research university in California. Over 47,300 students attend USC, which offers a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. USNR ranked it tied at 22nd among National Universities for 2020. It’s known for its incredible popularity among college applicants, and especially for programs in its prestigious Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering, Marshall School of Business, Rossier School of Education, School of Social Work, among others. USC graduates have founded hugely successful companies like LucasFilm, Salesforce, Myspace, Tinder, among many others.

What You’ll Study:

This program comes in multiple concentrations including:

  • Aerodynamics/Fluid Dynamics
  • Aerospace Control
  • Aerospace Design
  • Aerospace Structures
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Propulsion

USC offers an Online Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It encourages students to pursue their interests and career goals while allowing them maximum flexibility. The program was designed to give students all the skills they’ll need to enter many different industries, while they focus on the areas they most want to work in. Some of the areas graduates enter include Aerospace & Defense, Aircraft Design, Automotives, Consulting Firms, Biomedical Design, Robotics, and more.

11) University of Central Florida

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UCF is a public, research university founded in 1963. It’s headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Over 68,400 students attend the school, which has a 30:1 student to faculty ratio. It’s known for graduate schools like its College of Business Administration, College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Education. In 2020, USNR ranked UCF as tied at 166th among National Universities. It’s frequently cited for its economic diversity and has been highly designated by the Carnegie Foundation for community engagement and research activity.

What You’ll Study:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Propulsion
  • Thermal Analysis
  • Thermal Design

UCF offers an Online Aerospace Engineering MSAE. It requires 30 credit hours. Graduates will be prepared to impact and improve the design and creation of satellites, spacecraft, aircraft, and more. They also offer a Thermofluid Aerodynamic Systems Design and Engineering track as part of this program. Graduates can fill roles like Materials Engineer, Compliance Officer, Spacecraft Designer, Manufacturing Systems Engineer, Aerospace Engineer, among others.

12) Everglades University

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Everglades is a private university founded in 2002. It’s headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. Over 2,200 students attend Everglades, which has an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Everglades offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online and on-campus. USNR ranked it in the 96th-122nd bracket of Regional Universities South in 2020. Its mission is to provide an excellent education to adult learners of all backgrounds. Everglades prizes flexibility, individualized study, and professional development.

What You’ll Study:

  • Airway Transportation Systems
  • Airport Operations
  • Aerospace Communication Systems
  • Aerospace Logistics
  • Aircraft Simulation
  • Aerospace Systems Safety
  • And much more

Everglades offers an Online Master’s Degree in Aviation Science. It’s intended for those in the aviation industry to advance their careers in the field. Graduates will be well-versed in advanced research, formal writing, and more. This program requires 36 credit hours and can be completed in approximately 12 months, or 48 weeks, depending on applicable credits students might have and transfer in. The program builds towards a Capstone Project that completes it.

13) Georgia Institute of Technology

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This public research university is based in Atlanta and was founded in 1885. It’s commonly referred to as Georgia Tech. Over 32,700 students Georgia Tech, enjoying an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It was ranked 29th among National Universities by USNR in 2020. It’s known for its programs in business, engineering, computer science, design, and much more. It has received international acclaim for its engineering and business programs and graduate programs. It’s been called the “smartest” public school in the nation due to the high standardized test scores of its students.

What You’ll Study:

  • Manufacturing Systems
  • Computational Statistics
  • Propulsion Systems
  • Computer-Aided Design

Georgia Tech offers an Online Aerospace Engineering MS Degree. It is either a designated or undesignated degree. The designated version requires students to complete all coursework that would be required in a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. The undesignated does not. Students will gain experience in specialties related to aerospace system design, development, manufacturing, maintenance, operation, and more. This will help graduates get advanced positions in aerospace industries, or work for related government agencies.

14) North Carolina State University

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NCSU is a public research university in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was founded in 1887. It’s part of the Research Triangle that encompasses Duke University and The University of North Carolina. Over 35,700 students attend NCSU, which has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Its 12 colleges are divided into 68 departments that offer over 300 distinct undergraduate and graduate degrees. NCSU is known for its degrees in engineering, education, agriculture, statistics, life sciences, textiles, and design. US News & World Report ranked NC State 84th among all National Universities in 2020.

What You’ll Study:

  • Fluid Dynamics of Combustion
  • Advanced Engineering Thermodynamics
  • Principles of Structural Vibration
  • Project Work and Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering

NCSU offers an Online Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It can be completed in 12 months and is intended for people who are working full time. The program requires 30 credit hours. It doesn’t require a thesis, a final oral exam, or any on-campus attendance. Students will take six required courses, choose three electives, and a culminating project. Graduates will be prepared to reach new heights in their careers in aerospace engineering and many related positions.

15) Mississippi State University

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MSU is a public university founded in 1878. It’s headquartered in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. The Carnegie Foundation has designated MSU as an “R2: Doctoral Universities – Higher Research Activity. “MSU offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees from schools of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Accountancy, Education, Engineering, Chemical Engineering, among others. The school serves over 21,900 students and offers a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. USNR ranks it 211th among National Universities in 2020.

What You’ll Study:

  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Structural Mechanics
  • Flight Test Engineering
  • Design Optimization
  • Flight Mechanics and Controls

MSU offers an Online Aerospace Engineering M.S.. There’s also an Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. program. Students will work with the distinguished Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, which focuses on graduate aeronautical research and instruction. In addition to the topics above, students will also study fatigue and fracture, guidance and control, and nondestructive evaluation, among other topics. Graduates have gone on to become leaders in the aeronautical industry, education, and government.

16) Virginia Tech University

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Virginia Tech is a public university established in 1872. It’s based in Blacksburg, Virginia. Virginia Tech are known for its research facilities, and has been consistently placed among the top research universities in the nation. USNR ranked it 74th among National Universities in 2020. Nearly 34,700 students attend the school, which has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s known for its highly-rated College of Engineering. Overall, students can opt for nearly 200 unique programs offered through its eight colleges.

What You’ll Study:

  • Propulsion
  • Flight Mechanics
  • Structures
  • Aerodynamics

Virginia Tech offers an Online Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It comes in a thesis and non-thesis track. The program has four required courses: Applied Numerical Methods, Vehicle Dynamics and Control, Vehicle Structures, and Advanced Aero and Hydrodynamics. Students are then able to choose from 12 different elective courses. In the non-thesis track, you’ll take more electives than in the thesis track. The program is flexible and convenient for working adults.

17) Auburn University

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Auburn is a public university that was established in 1856. It’s based in Auburn, Alabama. Over 30,400 students attend the school, which has a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s known for its undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences, as well as engineering, agriculture, natural resources, education, architecture, business, nursing, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine. It’s ranked in 104th among National Universities by USNR in 2020.

What You’ll Study:

  • Applied Orbital Mechanics
  • Space Propulsion
  • Dynamic Simulation
  • Rocket Propulsion

Auburn offers an Online Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering. Accepted students can opt for a thesis or non-thesis track. Students will hone their skills and experience in the design, manufacturing, maintenance, operation, and development of aerospace systems. They wi.l graduate with a significant advantage over their competition for top industrial and government positions in the field. Online students are asked to take the non-thesis option, although they can take the thesis version of the program with permission from the department. If you’re in the non-thesis track, you’ll finish with an Aerospace Engineering Project.

18) University of Virginia

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UVA is a public research school and the flagship institution of the Virginia state system. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson and is based out of Charlottesville, Virginia. Overly 24,600 students attend UVA, enjoying a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Its graduate schools are often commended, including the Darden Graduate School of Business, Curry School of Education, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Law, and School of Medicine. USNR ranked it 28th among National Universities in 2020.

What You’ll Study:

  • Mechanical Systems
  • Linear State Space Systems
  • Engineering Mathematics
  • Fluid Mechanics

UVA offers an Online Master of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. There is no thesis required. The degree must be earned in seven years and requires 30 credit hours. Fifteen semester hours need to come from the University of Virginia, and at least 18 must be MAE courses, or remarkably similar. Students may be able to take some classes from other schools in the Virginia State System and transfer them in. To complete the program, attendees must get a C or better in each class, and maintain an overall 3.0 GPA.

19) Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Missouri S&T is a public university focusing on STEM degrees. It was founded in 1870 and headquartered in Rolla, Missouri. Over 8,600 students attend the school, which has an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio. It’s ranked 179th among National Universities by USNR in 2020. The school is primarily known for its engineering graduate degrees. The school notes its 95% career placement for all majors, and value for its cost.

What You’ll Study:

  • Fracture Mechanics
  • Aerospace Engineering Research
  • Applied Computational Methods
  • Advanced Finite Element Analysis

Missouri S&T offers an Online Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. It prizes the interdisciplinary aspects of aerospace engineering training. It requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework in the thesis version (at least 21 credit hours of coursework and 6 of research). The non-thesis track requires 30 credit hours of coursework, and up to 6 hours can be taken from courses outside of the department.

20) University of Texas Arlington

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University of Texas—Arlington is a public university founded in 1895 in Arlington, Texas. Nearly 47,900 students attend the school, which has a 24:1 student-to-faculty ratio. USNR ranks it in the 293-381 bracket of National Universities. The school offers 182 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees across many disciplines. Over 100 patents have been issued in the past five years, and more than 20 start-ups are developing from UTA-created technologies.

What You’ll Study:

  • Optimal Control of Dynamic Systems
  • Structural Aspects of Design
  • Structural Dynamics
  • Rocket Propulsion

UTA offers an Online Master’s in Aerospace Engineering. It prizes real-world learning, including work on job sites and in labs. Students will focus on the practical applications of engineering. Its graduates can be found at many Fortune 500 companies, and have found positions at SpaceX, NASA, Tesla, among many others. Over 130 courses are offered online during most semesters.

What Can I Do With an Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering Degree?

Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being a rocket scientist. While that can mean different things to different people, if you complete one of these degrees, you’ll be well on your way to designing, testing, developing, and implementing jets, airplanes, helicopters, or spacecraft. You might work on the structures of these vehicles themselves, or in some capacity that supports those who do. Some Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineers work on a specific system within these vehicles, while others take on their overall construction.

There are many jobs in this field, and of course, if you complete one of these degrees, you’ll be highly desirable throughout the engineering world. Some of the positions you could qualify for after earning one of these degrees include:

  • Maintenance engineer
  • Manufacturing systems engineer
  • Materials engineer
  • Aerospace engineer
  • CAD technician
  • Design engineer
  • Mechanical engineer

You could also find yourself in one of these more general or adjacent areas:

  • Energy engineer
  • Patent attorney
  • Production manager
  • Automotive engineer
  • Control and instrumentation engineer
  • Quality manager
  • Technical sales engineer

Wherever you find yourself, know that you’ll have built skills and gone through experiences that separate and elevate you from the labor pool in innumerable ways. You’ll be highly desirable and well-compensated. Speaking of which:

How Much Can I Earn With an Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering Degree?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes earnings in this field under the Aerospace Engineers heading. They define this work as people who design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles primarily. Workers often plan or build missiles, aircraft, spacecraft, and systems for national defense. They are mostly employed in research and development, analysis and design, and manufacturing. They also often work for the federal government.

Aerospace Engineers were paid $115,220 annually in 2018 median pay. The lowest 10 percent or aerospace engineers earned less than $71,640, and the highest 10 percent earned over $164,210. They typically need at least a Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or another field of engineering or science that handles aerospace systems. Earning a graduate degree boosts their job opportunities and pay, as well as being extremely common in this field.

There were 67,200 aerospace engineering roles in 2018. This was expected to jump by 2% between 2018-28, creating 1,100 new jobs.

Areas associated with higher pay included the federal government, navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing, as well as research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences.

The rest is up to you. To the stars!