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.
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.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition