Aerospace Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering: Salary & Job Outlook

There are a lot of similarities as well as slight differences between an aerospace engineer and a mechanical engineer. While aerospace is more focused, mechanical is broader. However, let’s look at how aerospace vs mechanical engineering would fare when you make comparisons.

According to Study, the key difference between aerospace and mechanical engineers is that aerospace engineers focus on things that fly or orbit Earth in space while mechanical engineers work on machines and devices that can be used in homes, businesses or outdoors.

So, in this article, we will identify aerospace vs mechanical engineering looking at it from all borders of similarities, duties and differences. The table of content clearly outlines all you’ll learn from this article.

What is Aerospace Engineering?

An aerospace engineer is a professional who designs any type of aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. Additionally, they manufacture and test the prototypes of these instruments to ensure they function optimally.

As an aerospace engineer, you can produce newer technologies for use in areas such as aviation, defence systems, and spacecraft. Depending on your interest, you can look at core fields such as aerodynamic fluid flow, structural design, guidance, navigation, and control, instrumentation and communication, robotics, and propulsion and combustion.

Aerospace engineers basically design different types of aerospace products, such as commercial and military flights and helicopters, remotely piloted aircraft and rotorcraft, spacecraft, and also military missiles and rockets.

In conclusion, as a specialist, you can try one or more related fields: aerodynamics, thermodynamics, materials, celestial mechanics, flight mechanics, propulsion, acoustics, and guidance and control systems.

What Is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is the application of simple principles and problem-solving strategies in engineering from design to manufacturing to the marketplace for any object.

Hence, mechanical engineers inspect their work leveraging the principles of energy, motion, and force. Amazingly, they do everything ensuring that designs function safely, efficiently, and reliably, all at an inexpensive cost.

Mechanical engineers make have spurred growth in the field of engineering. And it’s simply because mechanical engineering careers focus on creating technologies to meet the pressing needs of every human. Indeed, every product or service in modern life has mildly or greatly had the influence of a mechanical engineer.

As the world faces many challenges and innovations across many fields, the versatility of mechanical engineering is called in. To meet this broad demand, mechanical engineers have to create a component, a machine, a system, or a process.

This ranges from the macro to the micro, from the largest systems like cars and satellites to the smallest components like sensors and switches. Anything with moving parts that need to be created needs the influence of a mechanical engineer.

What Are The Differences Between An Aerospace Engineer And A Mechanical Engineer?

When you make strong comparisons between these two professionals, you’ll find a lot of revealing truths. Although they possess similarities, their differences clearly set them apart. So, in this section, we will clearly differentiate between these two experts in different sections of their expertise.

#1 Aerospace vs Mechanical Engineering– Duties

On every job, your core responsibilities separate you from your counterparts or better yet, your fellow professionals. Hence, you know the role you have to play in every project and the stipulated timing as well. So, in let’s look at the core responsibilities of the aerospace engineer and the mechanical engineer too.

Duties Of An Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers execute a variety of engineering work in designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Furthermore, they may conduct basic and applied research to evaluate the adaptability of materials and equipment to aircraft design and manufacture. Conclusively, these professionals recommend improvements in testing equipment and techniques.

  • Formulate conceptual design of aeronautical or aerospace products or systems to meet customer requirements.
  • Direct and coordinate activities of engineering or technical personnel designing, fabricating, modifying, or testing aircraft or aerospace products.
  • Develop design criteria for aeronautical or aerospace products or systems, including testing methods, production costs, quality standards, and completion dates.
  • Plan and conduct experimental, environmental, operational, and stress tests on models and prototypes of aircraft and aerospace systems and equipment.
  • Evaluate product data and design from inspections and reports for conformance to engineering principles, customer requirements, and quality standards.
  • Formulate mathematical models or other methods of computer analysis to develop, evaluate, or modify design according to customer engineering requirements.

Duties Of A Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers create specifications for the development, design, production and installation of new or modified mechanical components or systems. Hence, they’re technically-minded experts with strong scientific, numerical and problem-solving skills.

  • Assessing project requirements
  • Measuring the performance of mechanical components, devices, and engines
  • Agreeing on budgets, timescales, and specifications with clients and managers
  • Maintaining and modifying equipment to ensure that it is safe, reliable, and efficient
  • Utilizing computer-aided design/modeling software
    liaising with suppliers
  • Producing and implementing designs and test procedures
  • Testing, evaluating, modifying, and re-testing products

#2 Aerospace vs Mechanical Engineering – Education

If you want to become an aerospace engineer, you must make up your mind to beat the requirements and set up yourself in this career path. Of course, there’s no guarantee it would be easy but it’s very rewarding and fulfilling.

So, to become an aerospace engineer you must finish your higher school degree and enrol into any of the good aerospace schools in the world.

On the other hand, becoming a mechanical engineer is not a day’s job as well. There’s an intense amount of numerical ability you must possess in order to thrive in this industry. However, you only need to fulfil certain requirements for this program.

In a nutshell, you need to possess a high school degree and then register under any of the best mechanical engineering schools in the world.

#3. Aerospace vs Mechanical Engineering – Certification

Your certificate endorses your knowledge of a particular subject matter and both an aerospace and mechanical engineer needs to have certifications.

As an aerospace engineer, your first certificate would be your prestigious bachelor degree. You can get this from any of the aerospace engineering schools we linked up in the last section before this. After that degree, you can then pursue a higher degree certifications on this field so as to build your credibility and expertise.

In the same vein, your first certificate as a mechanical engineer would be your prestigious bachelor degree. You can attain this degree at almost any university in the world. These universities are actually science inclined and perform at the top level. So, the more degrees you have, the more you scale.

#4 Aerospace vs Mechanical Engineering– Job Opportunities

There are so many job opportunities available for aerospace engineers. These opportunities span across different industries. However, the majority of these industries are heavy airspace and automobile industries.

A beautiful thing is that an aerospace engineer can function under different roles such as;

  • Aircraft/Spacecraft Designer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Data Processing Manager
  • Military Aerospace Engineer
  • Inspector and Compliance Officer
  • Aerospace Technician

On the other side, mechanical engineers have a wider scope of employment. The can decide to serve in the automotive industry, designing wheelsets, combustion systems, and bodyshells. Biomedical companies hire mechanical engineers to create life-saving devices such as pacemakers, artificial valves, and robotic surgical assistants.

Furthermore, they can serve in the aerospace industry, building satellites, constructing fuel-efficient tanks, and designing planes, missiles, and rockets for private aeronautics companies and even NASA.

In summary, you can find mechanical engineers in building construction and power plants as they also assist with railroad design and implementation.

#5 Aerospace vs Mechanical Engineering – Job Outlook & Salary

As the world moves closer to becoming a global village with technology at the forefront it’s safe to say that both aerospace and mechanical engineers have a place in the future.

According to BLS, the employment of mechanical engineers will grow by 4% from now till 2028 while that of aerospace engineering will grow by 2% within the same time frame. Hence, there are so many job opportunities in these career paths.

As much as the focus is not on salary, aerospace and mechanical engineers get handsome rewards in monetary terms for their efforts and contribution. While aerospace engineers make at least $116,500 while mechanical engineers make $110,850 as well.

What Are The Similarities Between Aerospace Engineering And Mechanical Engineering?

As much as they are two different career paths, they both have similarities even starting from the word “engineering”. So, it’s unpractical to deny that they would share certain similarities which make them amazing as well.

So, on a level playing field, both aerospace and mechanical engineers design products or materials, and supervise the production of prototypes wherein they assess during the refining of their design plans.

What Are The Best Schools For Aerospace Engineering?

I believe you understand that it’s very necessary you attend a quality school. A place where you can get the best knowledge and insight into aerospace engineering.

Nowadays, a lot of schools make empty boastful statements regarding how having the best aerospace degree program but they’re mostly lies.

The list of schools below is some of the best schools where you can get an aerospace engineering degree. Hence, these schools include;

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
  • Purdue University–West Lafayette
  • Stanford University

Read Also: 15 Best Aerospace Engineering Schools in the World

Which Schools Are The Best For Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is more popular and versatile than aerospace engineering, hence, a lot of schools offer a mechanical engineering degree program.

Due to a large number of offerings, you might be confused when it comes to taking a decision that will ultimately affect your career in the long run. A good number of them offer scholarships to help you with your tuition.

The list of schools below is some of the best schools where you can get a mechanical engineering degree. Hence, these schools include;

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT)
  • University of Michigan
  • Stanford University
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Virginia
  • Imperial College of London

Read Also: Best Mechanical Engineering Schools in the World

Which Is the Best Between Aerospace Engineering And Mechanical Engineering?

As much as these two career paths have their advantages and disadvantages, it all depends on your interest.

However, in my candid opinion on this matter, let’s look at something I agree with.

According to Quora, Hosea Siu, [PhD Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology] commented;

“While I think the general advice about a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering being more broadly applicable is correct most of the time, I also think it kind of depends on the school.

I had the same thoughts about aerospace/mechanical going into college and tried out an introductory aerospace class just to see how true it was. Turns out that while the stereotype of “aerospace engineering is just high-speed, variable-pressure, safety-critical mechanical engineering” is kind of true (and why aerospace is a subset of mechanical in a large number of universities), there are also some universities where the aerospace department embraces what I would say is a different approach to the engineering curriculum than the mechanical department.

For example, at MIT (where I remember one of the heads of eduation in the aerospace department specifically saying “we fight to justify our existence in light of great departments in mechanical engineering and EECS and have for as long as we’ve existed”), there is a much greater emphasis on things that are critical to aerospace systems, but not covered much by other departments.

Things like systems engineering (especially systems engineering), human factors, mission architectures, real-time software, etc. Yes, the basic engineering classes that most undergraduates take to begin with overlap heavily with what our mechanical engineering counterparts deal with, but the approach to these classes, as well as the opportunities for more specific classes in the areas above (and things like flight vehicle dynamics, space propulsion, turbomachinery, etc that could, in theory, fall under mechanical engineering, but fit much better under aerospace), are what differentiate the departments.

The general feeling that I’ve gotten is that the mechanical engineering department here teaches its students how to design and build great products*, while the aerospace department teaches its students how to specify and fulfil mission requirements. The difference, in some ways, comes down to attitude, in addition to the specific skills you’re taught.

Some aerospace departments out there take that approach, or something similar, in which case you should consider that when choosing which major to do. Others might not be as differentiated from the older discipline of mechanical engineering other than by being more specific, in which case you might, in fact, be better served going into something like that given a legitimate concern of being pigeonholed.

*I’ve heard some less charitable members of the aerospace community describe this as “building widgets.” I’d be a little more careful about appropriately acknowledging our academic forebears”.

So, you can see that it all depends on you.

FAQ

Is Aerospace Engineering Better than Mechanical Engineering?

No. They are both good engineering careers which are fulfiling and financially rewarding.

Is Mechanical Engineering hard?

No. Mechanical engineering is not hard but it carries a level of difficulty.

Are there scholarships for Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering?

Yes, there are scholarships for these engineering careers if you need them.

Is Mechanical Engineering a good career?

Yes, mechanical engineering is a good and highly rewarding career.

Conclusion

Everything that exists was built from something. Every technological advancement is hidden in the errors of the past. Hence, the need to keep striving and pushing ahead.

Whether you’re building, designing or supervising production, you’re playing a very important role in national and international development.

So, if you choose to become an aerospace or a mechanical engineer, you’re still going to make both impact and a lot of money.

References

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