Orlando and central Florida have strong ties to aeronautical research and the aerospace industry.
The Central Florida Research Park in Orlando is the 7th largest research park in the U.S., and is a hub for flight and simulation training for the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy. In fact, over $700 million in federal contracts is granted to the research park each year by the Army and Navy.
Orlando is also home to Lockheed-Martin's manufacturing facility for missile systems, aeronautical craft electronics, and flight simulation systems. Other engineering companies with offices in the Orlando area are General Dynamics, Misubishi Power Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing, among many others.
The city is a not far from Cape Canaverel and Merritt Island, home to the Kennedy Space Center.
All these research and engineering firms require a variety of skilled workers -- from aircraft mechanics to engineers and business managers.
Careers in Aerospace
Everything that moves through air or space, from traffic helicopters to advanced missiles, is produced by the aerospace industry.
Aerospace products and parts must be both strong enough to withstand the speed at which they move, and light enough to defy gravity. These parts require precise measurements and multiple tests to ensure they are designed and produced correctly.
Workers needed in aerospace manufacturing include:
Aerospace engineers are at the heart of the design teams who research, design, test, and produce aerospace parts and vehicles. Engineers may specialize in structural design, navigation and control, or instrumentation.
Engineering technicians assist engineers, both in the research and development laboratory and on the manufacturing floor. They may help build prototypes of newly designed parts, run tests and experiments, and perform a variety of other technical tasks.
- Computer scientists and computer support specialists
Computer scientists, systems analysts, database administrators, software engineers, programmers, support specialists, and network and computer systems administrators are needed to design, test, evaluate, and set up computer systems that are used for design and manufacturing.
- Business managers and administrative support
Business managers manage the design process and factory operations, coordinate the parts, and ensure compliance with federal recordkeeping regulations. Administrative suport professionals coordinate the flow of supplies, keep records, and maintain all of the other reams of paperwork and electronic files necessary for the business.
- Production jobs
A third of all jobs in the aerospace manufacturing industry are in production. Machinists make complex and unique parts according to blueprints. Tool and die makers construct precision tools, assemblers put together the variety of pieces of an aircraft, such as structure, surfaces, rigging and systems, and inspectors, testers, sorters and weighers perform quality control and safety checks on parts throughout the production cycle..
Salary and Outlook
The employment outlook in aerospace is forecast to be stable over the next decade. Job prospects are most favorable in the professional fields, such as engineering and computer systems.
Companies involved in defense-related aerospace development (including missile development and flight simulation), should continue to grow as the U.S. replaces Cold War-era eqiupment, and as concern for national security remains high.
Average salaries for Orlando-area aerospace and aviation workers:
Aerospace engineers: $77,890
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians: $65,700
Aircraft mechanics: $54,400
Team assemblers: $25,200
Tool and Die Makers: $42,540
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, Weighers: $32,520
Education & Training
Nearly all engineers begin with a bachelor's in an engineering specialty. Most aerospace engineers have an aerospace engineering degree, though some come from other engineering specialties, such as electrical or mechanical engineering. Many managers in aerospace have an engineering background of some kind, along with business training.
Computer systems and support positions also often require degrees in information systems or computer science. Master's degrees in information systems or business administration with a technology core are helpful for leadership positions..
For all positions in aerospace, from engineering to inspecting, the ability to use logic in problem solving is key.
Top Engineering & Information Technology Schools in Orlando
Courses in IT Engineering, Software Development, and IT Security
ITT Technical Institute
Programss in Technical Project Management, Computer and Electronics Engineering Technology, and Computer Network Systems
University of Phoenix
Associate, bachelor, and master degrees in information technology, information systems, and business administration
Degrees in information systems, information technology, computer aided drafting, and computer programming.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Flight training and engineering programs. Degrees in aeronautical science, aerospace electronics, mechanical engineering, space physics and more.