The career path as an aerospace engineer offers an exciting future with all the innovation, competition and opportunities for designing and enhancing spacecraft and aircraft. It's a lucrative career path, too.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, aerospace engineers made an average of $117,100, as of May 2018 and earned a mean hourly wage of $56.30. This is up from an average annual salary of $113,030 in May 2017.
A career in aerospace engineering is also one of the best-paying STEM jobs for recent graduates. But if you want to get a clearer picture of how much you can make as an aerospace engineer in your state, there are different aspects to consider. Here's what you should know:
What is the Average Starting Aerospace Engineer Salary?
It's no secret that majoring in engineering can lead to a lucrative career path. In fact, engineers typically can expect an average of $58,000 per year when starting out and make as much as $98,000 annually.
If you're just getting started as an aerospace engineer, you can expect an average starting salary of $72,524, according to PayScale. PayScale’s data also highlights that entry-level aerospace engineers can start out making as low as $57,150 to as much as $98,607 per year.
But much of a starting aerospace engineer salary is based on where you work and the demand for aerospace engineers in your local market.
For instance, aerospace data from Payscale revealed that aerospace engineers in El Segundo, California make 23 percent more than the national average compared to aerospace engineers in Seattle who make four percent above the national average.
What Impacts an Aerospace Engineer Salary?
Several factors can affect how much you make as an aerospace engineer, including your education level, experience, and skillset.
For instance, data from Payscale highlights that aerospace engineers with five to ten years experience made $90,000 on average compared to those with less than five years of experience who averaged $70,000 per year.
The type of aerospace engineer role you have may also impact your salary. For example, data from Indeed.com indicated that the average pay for aerospace engineers is $73,298 per year for the role as a mechanical designer to $115, 239 annually for the role of a senior system engineer.
Your salary may also vary based on the company that hires you. Some of the top-paying organizations that hire aerospace engineers include SpaceX, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corp and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
For example, salaries reported on Payscale for aerospace engineering jobs range from $72,000 to $122,000 for The Boeing Company while NASA pays its aerospace engineers between $70,000 and $120,000. However, some aerospace engineers make as much as $216,000 at Google, according to Paysa.
Thus, working in one company may work for you when starting out while transitioning to another role or company is often more lucrative than remaining in the same position at the same company.
What Are the Top-Paying States for Aerospace Engineering Jobs?
If you're looking to start a career as an aerospace engineer, it's crucial to know how much to expect based on where you will work.
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights the differences in salaries across the United States for aerospace engineers. The District of Columbia (D.C.) offered the highest paid salaries for aerospace engineers with earnings reaching an annual mean wage of $133,760, as of May 2017.
Also, metropolitan areas that offered the highest annual salaries for aerospace engineering jobs annually included the Washington-Arlington-Alexandra, DC-Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia metro area ($137,750); the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado metro area ($133,950) and the metro area of Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California ($132,600).
Some states outshine others and may offer a better option to obtain a high salary. Here are the top four states that offer the most for an aerospace engineer salary based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Colorado ($131,360)
- Virginia ($128,300)
- California ($123,290)
- Maryland ($122,290)
Average Aerospace Engineering Salaries State-By-State
The geographical location of aerospace engineering jobs matter since they impact how much you make as an aerospace engineer.
Luckily, the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data on salaries across the country to help you benchmark what salary range you should look for when considering becoming an aerospace engineer.
The data below is based on the May 2018 period and does not include data for the states where data was unavailable.
See if the state you plan to start a career in aerospace engineering is offering the salary you want:
|District of Columbia||$138,480|
Whether you've just graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering or you're considering becoming an aerospace engineer in the future, it is important to study this industry to become familiar with multiple career opportunities and path that may lay beneath you.
Consider continuing your education by taking courses such as The Science of Flight, by James W. Gregory, a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The Ohio State University.
Remember that it’s imperative to have insight into the earnings you can expect while working on the job in the state of your choice. Consider the various factors that impact income and review this break down of salaries for aerospace engineering jobs by state.
If you are still trying to decide whether a career as an aerospace engineer is right for you, read the Complete Guide to Aerospace Engineering to get a thorough breakdown of this career path. With this insight, you'll have an idea if the place you plan to work as an aerospace engineer best fits your needs.