How to Become an Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work to prevent the failure of key parts of new aircraft, spacecraft, or missiles.
Many employers prefer to hire aerospace engineering and operations technicians who have earned an associate’s degree in engineering technology or who have completed vocational-technical education in computer programming or robotics, and machining. Prospective technicians also may earn certificates or diplomas offered by vocational or technical schools. Some aerospace engineering and operations technicians must have security clearances to work on projects related to national defense. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearances.
High school students interested in becoming aerospace engineering and operations technicians should take classes in math, science, and, if available, drafting and computer skills. Courses that help students develop skills collaboratively with machines also are valuable, because these technicians build what aerospace engineers design. In addition, technicians should have a basic understanding of computers and software in order to model or simulate products.
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians typically need to earn an associate’s degree or a certificate from a community college or vocational–technical school. 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 associate’s degree, but some offer a certificate. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary institutions that emphasize training needed by local employers. Students who complete these programs typically receive a diploma or certificate, but some vocational–technical schools offer an associate’s degree as well.
Some vocational schools and community colleges offer cooperative programs with work experience built into the curriculum.
Communication skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians receive instructions from aerospace engineers. Therefore, they must be able to understand and follow those instructions, as well as communicate any problems to their supervisors.
Critical-thinking skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians must be able to help aerospace engineers troubleshoot particular design issues. They must be able to help evaluate system capabilities, identify problems, formulate the right question, and then find the right answer.
Detail oriented. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians make and keep precise measurements needed by aerospace engineers. In addition, they keep accurate records of these measurements.
Interpersonal skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians must be able to take instructions and offer advice. The ability to work well with supervising engineers, other technicians, and mechanics is essential because technicians interact with people from other divisions, businesses, and governments.
Math skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians use the principles of mathematics for measurement, analysis, design, and troubleshooting tasks in their work.
Mechanical skills. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians must be able to assist aerospace engineers by building what the engineers design. Mechanical skills are needed to help with the processes and directions required to move from design to production.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although not required for the job, certification is 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.
Private companies and the FAA both seek to ensure the highest standards for the safety of aircraft. SpaceTEC, the National Science Foundation’s Center for Aerospace Technical Education, coordinates a nationwide program through community and technical colleges to help students prepare for certification.