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Aeronautical versus Astronautical Engineering: Job Outlook Advice

  1. May 30, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone. I am a recently graduated high school and community college student that will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to major in Aerospace Engineering. I am unable to decide on which path in this major (Aeronautical or Astronautical) I should go upon. I enjoy aviation and space equally. I would like to gather other's opinions on the job outlook of both sides of the fence, preferably from people who have been in the industry on either or both sides.

    I do realize that the aeronautical industry has large names like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, but how stable are jobs for Aerospace Engineers, growth opportunities, and competitiveness for applicants straight out of college.

    On the other seemingly smaller side, astronautical industry, there are NASA, Orbital Sciences, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX. I have read some reviews on SpaceX and Orbital Sciences that the management within these companies are weak, unstructured, and clueless to what is going on. I wonder if these companies are stable enough to keep me employed (depending on the company's contracts), as well as how soon this industry will blow up before we land on Mars.

    I would like to reach a decision soon so that I can maximize my networking, learning, and interning in whichever path seems more fitting for myself. Thank you in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2014 #2


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    Those fields are very cyclical (boom and then bust) so it is impossible to say what will be in demand when you graduate. I say focus on your passion because you will be most competitive if you are highly competent and excited about your work.
  4. May 31, 2014 #3
    Let me second what Analogdesign wrote. A typical engineering degree takes about five years to complete. You may even get a job in this business. But do note that the stability of such jobs is very ephemeral. Most of them are tied in some way to a government program. And as a research program by government, it can disappear tomorrow with just the stroke of a pen.

    It has happened before, even with some enormous projects such as the Apollo lunar missions, the space shuttle, and even some functional spacecraft (such as the ISEE).

    So for me to make estimates of what the job market contrast between aeronautics and astronautics would be laughable. I can't even envision what the next election will look like, let alone the one of after that. And that's what this all depends upon. Good Luck and don't be afraid to change careers....
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