Aerospace Industry Job Outlook
supplemental resource: Job Outlook by Profession
Employment is expected to remain stable over the next decade as increased output is met primarily through productivity improvements and the continued production of parts in foreign countries. Job prospects should be favorable for workers in professional occupations due to a large number of expected retirements.
The aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry is expected to experience little or no change in wage and salary employment from 2008-18, compared with 11 percent growth projected for all industries combined. The introduction of several major new aircraft in both the civil and military segments of the industry should lead to a substantial increase in the number of aircraft produced over the projection period, but productivity improvements and the continued production of parts in foreign countries will enable this production to be completed without an increase in employment.
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Recent volatility in fuel prices is causing world airlines to hasten the process of replacing older, less fuel efficient aircraft with newer models. This demand, combined with rapid growth in air travel in Asia and the Middle East, has created a favorable environment for airplane manufacturers. The civil aerospace industry operates in a world market, and the demand for air travel, and consequently for aircraft, is strongly affected by global economic conditions.
The military aircraft and missiles segment of the industry will continue to grow as concern for the Nation's security has increased the need for military aircraft and military aerospace equipment. In addition, the need to modernize Cold War-era equipment will stimulate demand in this sector of the industry. However, budget pressures may serve as a check on growth in spending on military aerospace equipment.
Job prospects. In addition to some growth in employment opportunities for workers in the industry, many job openings will arise from replacement needs, especially for aerospace engineers and other professional occupations. Many engineers entered the industry during the 1960s and 1970s as the space age captured the Nationís attention; these workers are now nearing retirement. Among those in the aerospace manufacturing industry, professionals typically enjoy more job stability than do other workers. During slowdowns in production, companies prefer to keep technical teams intact to continue research and development activities in anticipation of new business. Production workers, on the other hand, are particularly vulnerable to layoffs during periods of weak demand for aircraft.
Job opportunities in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry are also influenced by the unique production cycles within the industry, which do not always follow general economic conditions. Job openings in the industry rise rapidly when major new aircraft or systems are in development and production. However, job openings become scarcer after the initial production run.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition
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