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Aerospace Engineer jobs for non-US citizens: what are the chances?

  1. Nov 17, 2012 #1
    I've been searching for this kind of discussions in the forum and I've found some interesting answers and point of views from many users.

    But I still have some questions that I'd like to ask.

    From my understanding, being hired as an engineer (Mech. Eng, Electr. Eng. and so on) or as a computer scientist (but this could be also true for many other scientific jobs) from a large US company isn't a big issue if you aren't US born.

    But when it comes to Aerospace Engineering, the situation seems much more complex, due to the security clearances, Dept. of Defense and other security matter involved.
    Therefore, almost any job posting from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and so on requires you to be an US citizen in order to apply.

    Since from what I've read it could take more than 10 years to get the US citizenship, then what are the chances for a 25 years old European holding a M.Sc. in aerospace engineering to get a job in the US in the aerospace field?

    There could be the option of being a visiting student for the M.Sc. thesis or even to get a PhD from basically any college, but then? If one's doesn't want to stay forever in the academic world, what are the chances to find a good, interesting, challenging job in an advanced project for an Aerospace company, paying/granting for you VISA?

    For example, correct me if I'm wrong, I've read that if you want to do your PhD in the US as an European, you won't be able to access to some extra financial support/scholarships/funds, so you'll be in the range of 20-30k dollars per year, during the length of your PhD studies. But then? It seems to me that the most likely outcome is to remain in the academic world and work hard in order to eventually become a professor. Which could be extremely interesting, but it seems to me to be the only path possible. Am I wrong?

    TL;DR: from your personal knowledge and experience, what would you recommend to an European student: to stay in Europe try to find a good job for ESA, EADS, Thales etc. or to not abandon his "American dream" and try to pursue a career in the US?

    Thank you for your opinions and comments!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2012 #2
    Interesting Question!! I am following this thread.
  4. Nov 22, 2012 #3
    Is there anybody who wants to share some information/experiences?
    Please don't be shy ;)
  5. Nov 23, 2012 #4
    Not all jobs in the defense industry require security clearance. However, most jobs would require US citizenship or at least permanent residence, which I believe has to do with export control compliance. If you are not a US person (US citizen or permanent residence), you will be competing for jobs with your hands tied behind your back.
  6. Nov 25, 2012 #5

    Dr Transport

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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    proof of us citizenship and or a green card is the first step, without it, you most likely will not get scheduled for an interview.
  7. Nov 25, 2012 #6
    The main problem is competing against the hundreds of other people who have citizenship and at least 10 years of provable history in that country. They will most likely use this at the culling stage to thin candidates for interviews. So unless your father is the CEO of an aerospace company in another country, good luck. By the way, I'd like to find an aerospace position in another country too and have looked into it, but the chances are slim and the effort doesn't seem worth it to try.
  8. Nov 25, 2012 #7
    I suggest looking for any job in the US first. Once there make a career move.

    Try looking for other means of making yourself employable - industry certifications in related fields, teaching, etc.

    Some countries (like us here in Australia) can get US employment visas far more easily. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-3_visa
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