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Aerospace Engineering vs. Mechanical Engineering: Differences

Which major is better mechanical or aerospace engineering? Which is more difficult or pays more?

Generally, Engineering is considered one of the most difficult programs and careers to take on. Not alone, aerospace or mechanical engineering. These two branches of engineering are complex and involve high skill and precision to be successful at it.

I will talk about their study programs, the ones with better and more career opportunities, and how much these engineers get paid, to mention a few. Before proceeding, however, I should summarize what the two branches entail for better understanding.

Just as you know, Aerospace and Mechanical engineering are two important branches of Engineering. No branch of engineering is unimportant; They are all interconnected.

What is Aerospace Engineering? 

Aerospace Engineering is a field of engineering concerned with building, constructing, developing, and managing aircraft and spacecraft. Speaking further, this branch of engineering has two branches; Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

Aeronautical engineering deals with aircraft, while astronautical engineering deals with spacecraft. Engineers in these fields are assigned different roles and sometimes work together.

What is Mechanical Engineering?

Amongst all branches and disciplines in engineering, I see Mechanical Engineering as the broadest of it all. From the word “Mechanical,” meaning motion, Mechanical Engineering involves every machine that moves.

Engineers in this field design, build, and develop mobile machines. It is the fundamental part of all other aspects of Engineering.

Differences between Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Let’s take a look at Aerospace Engineering first. An Aerospace engineer will work towards developing the flight action of aircraft and spacecraft. Initially, it was only about aeronautical engineering, but as time went on and the need to travel to outer space, the discipline became broader and included astronautical engineering.

This means an Aerospace engineer can either become an aeronautical or an astronautical engineer, sometimes both. This kind of discipline is specific as it only involves flying objects. Such is not the case with Mechanical Engineering. I will tell you why.

Mechanical Engineering is a less specific and broader discipline of engineering. It is believed to be the foundation of all engineering disciplines. As a Mechanical Engineer, you will deal with anything that moves, from components to machines, even to the human body.

In one way or the other, Mechanical Engineers have solved all of man’s problems involving machines. Even aerospace engineering is built based on motion, which involves mechanical engineering. This shows you that although they are both different, they share some similarities.

Is aerospace engineering harder than mechanical?

No discipline of Engineering is easy to study. If you want to be an engineer, irrespective of your field, you must be serious, as it requires a lot of time and focus.

Mechanical Engineering is not easy to study, and neither is Aerospace Engineering. They both come with their challenges. However, you should be aware of something. If you plan on being a mechanical engineer, you should be prepared to know almost all the fields of Engineering.

On the other hand, if you are interested in being an Aerospace Engineer, you should be aware that you will be more focused on a particular discipline. They both come at different prices.

If you want to major in any of the two disciplines, you must be exposed to many subjects, including mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The subjects serve as the basis on which Engineering is built. Ensure you are good at them before applying to be an Engineer.

Aerospace Engineering vs. Mechanical Career Opportunities

successful engineer

Thousands of career choices will suit your qualification without hassle trying to find a job. I will take them one by one.

As an Aerospace Engineer

As an Aerospace Engineer, there are different areas where you can specialize, including; aerodynamics, avionics, materials and structures, propulsion, and systems integration.

  1. Civil and Military Aircraft – This industry records the highest number of Aerospace Engineer recruitments. Many of these engineers even train to work in these companies. They are usually involved in aircraft production, design, research, and maintenance, whether civil or military.
  2. Missiles and Weapons Systems – Built on the principle of Projectiles, this industry is for engineers who would love to use their skills in developing missile systems for a nation.
  3. Satellites – This industry is very important, and engineers should never be scarce here. They are usually in charge of space research, satellite manufacturing, and launching rockets. A good example of this is NASA.
  4. Space Vehicles – This is the direct opposite of the industry manufacturing civil and military aircraft. Engineers in charge of this industry are called astronautical engineers. Space research companies, including NASA, SpaceX, etc., employ them.

As a Mechanical Engineer

Examples of places where Mechanical Engineers are in high demand include;

  • Aerospace and automotive industries
  • The armed forces and the Ministry of Defense
  • Construction and building services
  • Energy utilities, including nuclear
  • Engineering consultancies
  • Government agencies
  • Manufacturing industries
  • Medical engineering
  • Oil and gas industries, including petrochemical industries
  • Process industries, including pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetics
  • The public sector, including the Civil Service, local authorities, hospitals, and educational institutions
  • Research establishments, both academic and commercial
  • Sports engineering
  • Transport, including road and railways.

I believe you also agree that Mechanical Engineering has more job opportunities. You do not need to go far searching for a job. As long as there is a need for an engineer, then you are automatically qualified as a Mechanical Engineer.

Mechanical vs. Aerospace engineering salary

Starting salaries of Aerospace Engineers are usually less since they have no previous experience. It can range between $24,000 to $27,000.

However, aerospace engineers with experience can get paid as much as $39,000. Remember, this all depends on your level of expertise and experience. Senior engineers get paid the highest. Some are paid as much as $58,000.

The starting salaries of Mechanical Engineers are lower compared to that of Aerospace Engineers. As a starter with no experience or on a graduate training scheme, you can get paid between $18,000 to $27,000.

When you have experience, your salary can be between $25,000 to $35,000. Just like any other career, senior-level members get paid the highest. As a Senior Mechanical Engineer, such as a Chief Engineer, you can get paid between $45,000 to $60,000.

Which is better mechanical or aerospace engineering?

Engineers can get paid even up to $100,000. It all comes down to their level of expertise. From this, you can agree that Aerospace Engineers are paid higher than Mechanical Engineers. This fact is simply because Aerospace Engineers are work-specific, unlike Mechanical Engineers.

However, if I chose the better career between the two, I would not choose any. Both careers are excellent and maximize their full potential.

Also, they are both important disciplines of Engineering and sometimes, one part cannot do without the other. They work hand-in-hand.

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