If you want to become an aerospace engineer, California can be a great state to live and study in. This is because there are 24 schools that offer you the chance to pursue this degree. All 24 schools have Bachelor's degree programs. If you already have a Bachelor's degree, you can look into the 12 schools with Master's-level programs. California schools are spread across the state, with many schools located in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. The average cost of tuition is about $15,300 per year, depending on whether you are a resident and if you attend a public or private college.
Before you can take on the title of aerospace engineer and start working, you need a quality education. To be successful as an engineer, you'll need to have experience in the research, design, and testing of aerospace engineering. If you plan your classes carefully, you may be able to graduate in four years. Most California schools require between 120 and 130 credits for graduation.
Unlike other fields, aerospace engineering does not have a flexible curriculum. Each set of classes builds on the information you've learned prior, so you need to take classes in order. Some of the classes you can plan on taking as an aerospace student include Mechanics of Materials, Flight Dynamics, Aerospace Propulsion, and Aerospace Design.
Theory and practice are equally important parts of this field. You'll gain theoretical knowledge from your lecture courses and practical experience from your laboratory courses. You can generally plan on spending at least 10 hours per week in the engineering lab, which includes class time and study time.
Many schools have special opportunities for engineering students. The California Launch Vehicle Education Initiative, which is based at Califoria State University Long Beach, lets you work on launch vehicles and small spacecraft.
Thanks to the huge amount of schools in California, you can find a wide range of tuition costs throughout the state. In general, public colleges have lower tuition rates than private schools. Tuition rates at Southwestern College are among the lowest in the state, at $46 per unit for residents and $236 per unit for non-residents. The University of Southern California is one of the most expensive schools in the state, with an annual tuition cost of $45,602 per year.
Because aerospace engineers are in such high demand, you can look for many different scholarship opportunities. CALTRANS offers multiple engineering scholarships, including the James E. Roberts Engineering Scholarship and the Arun Sudhakar Memorial Scholarship. The American Council of Engineering Companies—California also award scholarships of $1,000 to $7,500.
Once you have completed your aerospace engineering degree, you are ready for the next step in your career. You have to become licensed by the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists. You must pay a $125 exam and application fee, which allows you to sit for the Professional Engineer exam. Once you pass this exam, you can legally work as a Professional Engineer. Licenses are good for two years, and you must renew prior to the end of each two-year period to maintain your license.
Professional development is key when you are an engineer. Look into joining the California Society of Professional Engineers, a group that offers ongoing education opportunities and professional advocacy to its members.