Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – How am I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips – continued

(This post follows on from Post 8 – How an I Going to Get an Aerospace Job? 5 Tips)


Don’t forget that if the recruiter does his/her work well, you stand to benefit. Possibly for a lifetime. You get an interview with the hiring company. The company likes you. You get a second interview. They still like you.

Then you get a job.


Everybody’s happy. (For now, at least.)

And if, in the course of time, you decide to part with the company . . . . . the recruiter still remembers you (if they’re smart) as someone who helped them cement a deal.

They are now more likely to help you find another job.

So deal with recruiters the same as you would with anyone else. Just someone who’s trying to make a living, who stands to help cement a deal that’s mutually beneficial.

The late Zig Ziglar, the American marketing guru, used to say, “People don’t buy things for rational reasons; they buy things for emotional reasons.”

The same is true of hiring and recruitment. Deals get inked because all sides in the deal think they will feel better with the deal than without it.

You ability to do the job is still of course very important.

But the decision to hire you, instead of the next person, is more likely to be made on the basis of how people feel about you.

So get good at making people like you, and feel good about you.

(Note: In Tips #2 and #3, I have emphasized the role of the recruiter, or recruiting agent. Almost everything said applies also to the human resources professionals of the hiring company. They are neither friend nor enemy. They have no loyalty to you whatsoever; they work for the hiring company. But they can be useful allies for mutual benefit. Treat them appropriately and with courtesy.)


Systems. Software. Stress (or Structures – I use the terms interchangeably).

Remember those Big Three.

From my experience in aerospace, anyone whose skill set was highly concentrated on one (or more) of those three, has little difficulty staying in (or finding) work.

Outside of those three, you are less in demand, less mobile, and more at risk.

Systems engineering is the activity of defining what is required of a set or subset of components of an aircraft, further specifying those requirements down to detailed component level, and then testing or otherwise verifying that the designed components and component ensembles do exactly what is required of them.

Software is essentially a subset of systems engineering, and concerns only the behavioural logic to be automated in the control hardware of a system.

Stress includes designing and manufacturing the physical structure of the aircraft, and demonstrating (by test or mathematical analysis) that the structure will be capable of withstanding the in-service loads imposed on it. (This includes the fixed structure as well as the moving mechanical components.)

There are plenty of other disciplines involved in aerospace, and they all have plenty to be said for them in terms of intellectual challenge.

Aerodynamics is probably the one that first comes to mind. This is the one that first fascinated me as a youngster. I don’t think I’ll ever lose my interest in it.

Loads is another. This one is most easily described by “Force = Mass x Acceleration”. In concept, it’s that simple. The irregularity of aircraft geometries and structural configurations are such that calculation of “Force = Mass x Acceleration” requires horribly complicated mathematical models and software.

The problem with all aerospace disciplines outside the Big Three is simple:

The Big Three can be found in non-aerospace industries, in significant numbers. The non-Big-Three can’t.

The nuclear, mining, oil & gas, shipbuilding, automotive, etc, industries, all need lots of people designing systems, coding software, and designing structure.

They don’t need lots of aerodymicists or other non-Big-Three types. (Aerodynamicists, for example, can be found in the automotive industry, for example, but not in large numbers. Also in wind turbine design and boat design, but those are not huge industries.)

The non-Big-Three disciplines are comparatively specific to the aerospace industry.

The aerospace companies know that.

They don’t have to compete very hard to get you or keep you if you’re an aerodynamicist.

But they have to compete with a host of industries for stress, systems and software engineers.

Your long-term income potential, and your mobility, will be a direct function of how close you are to the Big Three.

If you have more than one of the Big Three, you’ll be sitting pretty!

Plan accordingly.


The temptation, when you’re finishing university, and hunting for that first job, is to chase those companies with reputations for high salaries.

Understandable, especially if you have debts to pay off, or families to support.

Resist the temptation.

Take the long-term view.

Someone wiser than I has said, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.”

When faced with a choice between a high-paying job and a job with great training opportunities . . . . go for the training.

Or when faced with a choice between a high-paying job and a job requiring lots of travel . . . . . go for the travel.

Or exposure to a lot of highly-placed influential people in lots of different companies . . . . . go for the exposure.

As a knowledge worker, your greatest asset is your mind. (Which is why my so-called most important technical skills #1 and #2 (Self-confidence and Awareness), are so important.) Invest heavily in your mind always, but especially in your early years.

The money will follow. All in good time.

In the next post, we shift our attention to what happens after you actually get that job. You’ll be faced with a whole new set of problems!

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