AEROSPACE CAREER OUTLOOK
Employment is expected to remain stable over the next decade as increased output is met primarily through productivity improvements and the continued production of parts in foreign countries. Job prospects should be favorable for workers in professional occupations due to a large number of expected retirements.
Recent volatility in fuel prices is causing world airlines to hasten the process of replacing older, less fuel efficient aircraft with newer models. This demand, combined with rapid growth in air travel in Asia and the Middle East, has created a favorable environment for airplane manufacturers. The civil aerospace industry operates in a world market, and the demand for air travel, and consequently for aircraft, is strongly affected by global economic conditions.
In addition to some growth in employment opportunities for workers in the industry, many job openings will arise from replacement needs, especially for aerospace engineers and other professional occupations. Many engineers entered the industry during the 1960s and 1970s as the space age captured the Nation’s attention; these workers are now nearing retirement.
Job opportunities in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry are also influenced by the unique production cycles within the industry, which do not always follow general economic conditions. Job openings in the industry rise rapidly when major new aircraft or systems are in development and production. However, job openings become scarcer after the initial production run.
TRAINING AND ADVANCEMENT
The proportion of workers with education beyond high school is larger in the aerospace industry than the average for all other industries. Because employers need well-informed, knowledgeable employees who can keep up with the rapid technological advancements in aerospace manufacturing, the industry provides substantial support for the education and training of its workers.
Firms provide onsite, job-related training to upgrade the skills of technicians, production workers, and engineers. Classes teaching computer skills and blueprint reading are common. Some firms reimburse employees for educational expenses at colleges and universities, emphasizing 4-year degrees and postgraduate studies. In addition to training requirements, workers in defense-related aerospace companies often need a security clearance.
Production workers in the aerospace industry are highly skilled because of the specialized work that they must perform. While a high school diploma or equivalent is usually required, it is becoming increasingly common for new production workers to have postsecondary vocational training as well.
Local community colleges and technical schools in areas with a high concentration of aerospace manufacturing typically offer programs in aerospace production. These programs can last from a semester to two years and cover topics such as math and computer skills, blueprint reading, a basic overview of materials and methods, measurement and quality control, and safety. Many programs work closely with local manufacturers to ensure that they are providing the skills that companies look for in new workers.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics