Welcome to the Civil Air Patrol's Aerospace and Related Careers program. It is designed to expose CAP members to possible career paths/opportunities they might not be aware of. The following education is needed to enter the aerospace career fields. This training module should be viewed as a follow on program to CAP’s Aerospace Dimensions and Aerospace: The Journey of Flight, Chapter 17, Aerospace Careers and Training.
In order to keep the U.S. as the world leader in aerospace technology development and manufacturing, we need the best engineers, scientists and technicians possible. If you're interested in mathematics, flight, engineering, science, physics, or electronics, you might just be a perfect candidate for a high-flying career in aerospace.
The first step toward exploring the cutting-edge aerospace industry is simple, and the best starting point or source for universities and colleges with aerospace programs, Technical schools, military service, scholarships, internships, and job opportunities is right here. A degree is not as important as the needed training, on the job training, or hands on experience. All of these go together to equip you with what is needed to get the job you want in the aerospace career fields.
You need to know what you are interested in, hence the “know thyself” rule. You can get to your goal via a degree, or technical training and several years of experience. Both approaches will get you the job you seek in the future. Cannot afford college? Enlist in the military, and let them train you at any number of really good service technical schools. This is the equivalent of community college training for free. You will graduate from a Service Technical Training school and spend two to four years mastering your skills through on-the-job-training and eventually training others yourself. When you exit the service or are discharged you will have your Associate of Arts degree finished (or nearly completed), certificates of training in a technical field, as well as several years experience. All of this plus the military security clearance you will have been granted while serving in the military make you very competitive in the aerospace job market.
You are reading this because you have an interest in aerospace and have many questions you would like answered. Such as:
What sort of skills do you need for a job in the aerospace industry?
The skills vary according to the position you are seeking, but generally a vocational degree or higher are required. Being comfortable with computer technology is a must.
Do aerospace jobs pay well?
Yes they do. Because of the high technology nature of the industry, aerospace jobs pay 50 percent greater than other manufacturing sectors.
What courses should I take in high school to prepare for a career in aerospace?
A well-rounded education is desirable with an emphasis on math, science and computer technology. Heading for vocational school or off to college will determine what courses you should take. Check with your guidance counselor.
What subjects should I study in high school to prepare for a career in aerospace?
Math, science, and computer technology are the most important areas to study for most technical careers, but within a well-rounded education. Check with your guidance counselor on specific courses, depending on what you are most interested in.
How important is education to getting a job in a good engineering firm?
Education is very important, particularly in the aerospace industry where peoples' lives depend on the products you develop. An aerospace engineering degree can equip you for many different positions in design, testing, verification, project management, or even sales. Complex products require knowledgeable people in many different roles.
So let us survey some aerospace jobs and see what they are, or do. It starts with school and some basic learning like you are doing right now. One needs to enjoy aviation, space related activities, or geography. One needs to be “curious” and enjoy solving problems. To work in an aerospace career field, one does not need an aerospace college degree, but it helps open doors. A person needs a certain level of math and science understanding to work in space related operations. A college degree is the normal entry requirement, as well as a very clean police record, for the required higher security clearances.
If you are working with satellites or the information they are handling (imagery, communications, etc.) you must have a security clearance. A record of drug usage, drinking, financial problems, and excessive speeding tickets all will end your career even before you begin it.
The Next Step
In this module investigate the various degree programs, technical training possibilities, and specializations related to a major in Aerospace Engineering that are offered by colleges, universities, military service branches, and aerospace schools. These specializations may be of greater or lesser interest to you, but at least one has your name on it. A few of these specializations related to this field include, but are not limited to:
Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering Technology/Technician Major
Automotive Engineering Technology/Technician Major
Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Technology/Technician Major