Aerospace engineering and operations technicians held about 8,700 jobs in 2010. They usually work full time in laboratories, offices, and manufacturing or industrial plants. Many are exposed to hazards from equipment or from toxic materials, but incidents are rare as long as proper procedures are followed.
Industries that employed the largest numbers of aerospace engineering and operations technicians in 2010 were as follows:
Aerospace products and parts manufacturing 34%
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing 20%
Architectural, engineering, and related services 14%
Scheduled air transportation 5%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 5%
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians are physically active in constructing the designs that aerospace engineers develop. Consequently, these technicians often work directly in manufacturing or industrial plants, where they help to assemble aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft away from an office environment.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
An associates degree is becoming increasingly desired by employers of aerospace engineering and operations technicians, although vocational programs that grant certificates or diplomas also offer good preparation. Some aerospace engineering and operations technicians work on projects that are related to national defense and thus require security clearances. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearances.
Although certification is not required, skills-based certification programs help students prepare for certification offered by the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA). Certification may be beneficial because it shows employers that a technician can carry out the theoretical designs of aerospace engineers, and companies and the FAA seek to ensure the highest standards for the safety of the aircraft.
High school students interested in becoming an aerospace engineering and operations technician should take classes in math, science, and, if available, drafting. Courses that help students develop skills working with their hands also are valuable, because these technicians build what aerospace engineers design. Employers also want these technicians to have a basic understanding of computers and programs to model or simulate products.
Vocational-technical schools include postsecondary public institutions that emphasize training needed by local employers. Students who complete these programs typically receive a diploma or certificate. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework and programs. Community colleges typically award an associates degree.
The Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET(formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), accredits programs that include at least college algebra, trigonometry, and basic science courses.
Many vocational and community college programs offer cooperative programs, with work experience built into the curriculum.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Outlook for the Future
Employment of aerospace engineering and operations technicians is expected to experience little or no change from 2010 to 2020. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work on many projects that are related to national defense and require security clearances. These restrictions will help to keep jobs in the United States. In addition, aircraft are being redesigned to cut down on noise pollution and to raise fuel efficiency, increasing demand for research and development.
Although aerospace engineering and operations technicians are employed in several industries, most of their work is involved in national defense-related projects or in designing civilian aircraft. Research and development projects, ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to new air transport concepts, will create demand for aerospace engineering and operations technicians.
Those who work on engines or propulsion will be increasingly needed as design and production emphasis shifts to rebuilding existing aircraft so that they give off less noise while using less fuel. Domestically, as space flight shifts to the civil market from government agencies, there will be a shift in hiring away from government agencies and to emerging civil space companies.
However, aerospace engineering and operations technicians also are working on improving productivity through the use of automation and robotics, and increased productivity will likely reduce low-end production employment in this occupation. Another factor that may slow growth in the occupation is the continuing adoption of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software. This technology has lowered testing costs because companies no longer need to spend as much to test by traditional methods, typically performed by aerospace engineering and operations technicians. Thus, aerospace engineering and operations technicians will see a shift in work toward more high-end technology tasks.
The aviation industry has gone through periods of tremendous success and innovation, and periods of intense challenges. Today, aviation plays a critical role in our economy and the future of aviation will depend on business and personal travel, aviation fuel costs, and government subsidy and intervention.
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To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.
Despite the factors driving down overall employment in this occupation, job openings should be available for aerospace engineering and operations technicians. They usually retire at a younger age than aerospace engineers, and indications are that the proportion of those eligible to retire will be rising substantially over the next few years.