How to Become an Aerodynamics Engineer


You'll likely need at least a bachelor’s degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering to become an aerodynamics engineer. Some employers may require you to have a master’s degree, or higher, in one of these areas.


If you want to be successful in this field, you will also need to make sure this career aligns with your interest, skills, and personality traits.


Does the following describe you?


• You have a passion for mathematics and science

• You have a keen interest in sub-sonic, transonic, and supersonic aerodynamics

• You are proficient in the use of analytical methods

• You have interest in a career that generally pays very well

• You have patience, determination and perseverance

• You are accountable and responsible

• You are willing to work long hours, sometimes under pressure


Below we've provided detailed information on what you'll need to make it in this career. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, working conditions, a list of possible employer types, and much more!



Experience Needed

The level of experience needed to become an aerodynamics engineer varies based on the requirements of the employer. For example, some employers may require candidates for aerodynamics engineer jobs to have experience with certain software or simulation programs.


Other employers however, may hire aerodynamics engineers without experience in these areas, and provide them with on-the-job training, under the direct supervision of senior engineers. 



Educational Requirements

The educational requirements you'll have to meet will vary by employer. Typically, the minimum requirement to get a job in this field is a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering.


Some employers will prefer to hire candidates whom have a masters’ degree or higher in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering. A master's degree is also needed if you want to become a highly specialized aerodynamics engineer. 


If you want to work as an aerodynamics engineer that teaches or conducts research, you will likely need a doctoral degree (Ph.D.).





Aerodynamics Engineer Job Description

Aerodynamics Engineers design, construct and test aircraft, automobiles, missiles and spacecraft. Aerodynamics Engineers conduct basic and applied research to evaluate the adaptability of materials and equipment to the design and manufacture of aircraft, automobiles, missiles and spacecraft.



General Job Duties

• Analyze thermodynamic effects on various designs

• Confer with customer regarding performance problems during the life of the product

• Prepare reports on the results of analysis, such as flight performance validation

• Prepare air load data on vehicle to conform to aerodynamic requirements

• Establish computational methods and computer input data for problem analysis

• Plan and conduct analysis of aerodynamic and related concepts, systems and designs

• Determine suitability of applying certain aerodynamic concepts, systems and designs to specific products



Certification for Becoming an Aerodynamics Engineer

You typically do not need licensing to become an aerodynamic engineer that works in a position of low responsibility. However, as you do gain more experience and move into positions of greater responsibility, a license becomes required.


Aerodynamics engineers who become licensed carry the designation of professional engineer (PE). To be licensed as a professional engineer, you generally need to meet the following requirements:


• A degree from an accredited engineering program

• A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam

• Relevant work experience

• A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam



Skills Needed to Be Successful

In order to be effective in this profession, you'll need a certain set of hard and soft skills, including:


Hard Skills


• Proficient in the application of wind tunnel experimental techniques

• Knowledge of CFD meshing and visualization

• Proficient in the use of analytical tools

• Able to build analytical models, including performance models  

• Able to perform analytical simulations to determine aerodynamic drag and lift

• May require knowledge of sub-sonic, transonic, and supersonic aerodynamics


Soft Skills


• Excellent work planning and issue resolution skills

• Able to work effectively in a team environment

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills





Characteristics & Traits Needed

In order to become a successful aerodynamics engineer, you need to be able to survive the ups and downs of this career. You also need to enjoy what you do, if you’re going to devote your professional energy to it. The personality traits it takes to succeed include:


• An inquiring, inventive and creative mind

• A keen interest in mathematics and science

• Patience, determination and perseverance

• A team-oriented attitude

• Willing to take accountability and responsibility for results

• An interest in work that involves details and precision

• Willing to work irregular hours on occasion

• Willing to travel on occasion 



Who Creates Jobs for Aerodynamics Engineers?

Jobs for aerodynamics engineers are typically found on a full-time basis, by the following types of organizations:


• Companies that design, manufacture and sell airplanes

• Companies that design, manufacture and sell spacecraft and aerospace products

• Commercial and private airlines

• Space agencies

• Companies that design, manufacture and sell cars and other vehicles

• Formula 1 racing companies

• The Air Force, and other national defense agencies

• Government departments, such as the Department of Transportation

• Private and public research laboratories

• Colleges and universities (in research and/or teaching capacities)


Typical Salary Level

The salary level of aerodynamics engineers varies based on the following factors:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience and aptitude

• The specific responsibilities of their job

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Aerodynamics Engineer Salary - Canada (Alberta): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $106,900 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available for the rest of Canada.


Aerodynamics Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group is $103,720 per year. Salaries in the 10th percentile are below $65,450, and those in the 90th percentile are above $149,120 per year.



Career Advancement Possibilities

With experience and a good track record, aerodynamics engineers are given additional responsibilities, and additional pay. They may also advance to positions such as project manager, department head, division manager and vice president.



Aerodynamics Engineering Jobs

Our job board below has "Aerodynamics Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.





Work Environment for Aerodynamics Engineers

Working Hours: Aerodynamics engineers typically work full-time hours during the week. They may be required to work overtime to meet project deadlines and ensure design specifications are met. They may also be called back to work whenever there are problems with projects.


Work Setting: Aerodynamics engineers primarily work indoors in offices and testing laboratories. They are also typically involved in supervising work performed at production sites or manufacturing facilities. They may also work at a field site, such as a launching pad.


Working Conditions: These engineers spend a considerable amount of time working with computers. They experience a great deal of pressure to meet deadlines and design standards. 



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Aerodynamics Engineer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Aerospace Engineer

Astronaut Career


Mechanical Engineer



References for This Career Guide

To find out more about what an aerodynamics engineer does, how much they earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


Occupations in Alberta:Aerospace Engineer.” (March 14, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Architecture and Engineering:Aerospace Engineers.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 20, 2019.

Engineering:Aerodynamics.” (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2019.




Scholarships for Relevant Fields of Study

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming an aerodynamics engineer? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


• On, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Relevant College/University Majors” section below shows what majors apply to this career

• Search scholarships by major on our Mechanical Engineering Scholarships page


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant College/University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming an Aerodynamics Engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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