There are a range of job opportunities within the aerospace and defense industry, many of them targeted toward those with a strong aptitude in science and math. If you have a passion for aerospace and defense, odds are there’s a way to channel it into an exciting, fulfilling career. The challenge is deciding what path is right for you. To test out different careers within this industry, consider taking a paid or unpaid internship during college to get first-hand experience, build up your skillset and get you closer to figuring out the best aerospace and defense entry-level jobs to apply for.
Here are some of the most common jobs within the aerospace and defense industry.
In this role, you’ll be working on military-grade vehicles and systems that can hold up during battle on land, at sea and in the air. Aerospace engineers typically have a background in areas like mechanical and systems engineering, design, structural analysis, and propulsion. Within the field of aerospace engineering, you could specialize in assignments like flight tests, mission systems or airframe structural analysis and design.
As a systems engineer, you’ll be responsible for building technology with a wide range of uses, from collecting threat information to protecting infrastructure to monitoring the climate. Data will be at the center of your job, and you’ll often work with software development teams to build software that helps improve aircraft function. You’ll also find ways to better analyze and interpret recorded data.
As an electrical engineer, your team will be be responsible for designing and building electronics for spacecraft, aircraft or helicopters. In this role, you could work on improving systems for airspace management, surveillance, satellite communication and navigation. You might also focus on the use of alternative energy sources within the aerospace and defense industry.
In this role, you’ll be responsible for keeping your company’s essential aerospace and defense systems running smoothly. Your job will be part maintenance and part anticipating and solving potential risks before they become problems. In short, your work will provide critical support for all of the game-changing technologies being built at your company.
As a mechanical engineer your work will improve a range of technologies, including robots, engines, heat transfer systems and controls for aircraft and spacecraft. You’ll research, plan, design, develop and test new systems that span a wide range of aerospace and defense applications. At Lockheed Martin, mechanical engineers have been behind both the Hubble Telescope and the Phoenix Mars Lander. That means, your work will have far-reaching applications and contribute directly to the future of the aerospace and defense industry.
Quality assurance engineer
In this role, you’ll be responsible for ensuring every piece of technology and every process created by your company is as best as it can possibly be. You’ll work to meet and exceed quality requirements and come up with even better ways to improve the performance of everything your company builds and does. Your focus might be on software, systems, service, manufacturing, hardware or program management quality.
If you’re interested in working in the aerospace and defense industry, you have a wide range of career paths to choose from. To ensure that you pick a position that’s right for you, it’s important to figure out where your interests lie and to pursue a role that you’re passionate about. Whether that ends up being a flight inspector or a mechanical engineer, the skills you’ve developed in school and during any internships will definitely help you shine.