Whether you want to work on aircraft or spacecraft, you can start by getting a degree in aerospace engineering. There are six schools in Florida that offer aerospace engineering degrees—all six schools offer both Bachelor's-level programs and Master's-level programs. There are schools near Florida's northern border in Gainesville and as far south as Miami. Each school sets its own tuition rates, but in general, Florida is fairly affordable. The average cost of tuition in the state is around $11,400 per year. The average class size in Florida is 21 students, so you'll likely have lots of people you can work with in your classes.
Once you know that aerospace engineering is where you want to focus your efforts, you can go full steam ahead with your education. To become a licensed engineer, you need at least a Bachelor's degree in the field. This involves completing 120 to 130 credits over the course of four years.
When you first look at your engineering curriculum, you may be overwhelmed by the complexity and variety of your courses. Don't be worried! Each class builds on what you've learned before, so you'll build up a strong base of engineering knowledge. Over the course of your four years in school, you may take courses like Aerospace Propulsion, Engineering Materials, Incompressible Flow, and Applied Aerospace Structures.
As a student, you'll likely spend lots of time in a hands-on learning environments. Most schools have their own dedicated engineering labs, where you can work with different aerospace engineering materials and see how they work.
You may also be interested in working in aerospace research. Some schools focus more heavily on research, so look into each school carefully. At the Florida Institute of Technology, you can do research at the Institute for Energy Systems, the Center for Remote Sensing, and the Federal Aviation Administration Center.
Since there are quite a few schools in Florida, there are many different price points for tuition. On the low end of the scale, the University of Central Florida costs $2,526 per semester for residents and $8,966 for non-residents. On the more expensive end of the scale, you have the University of Miami. Tuition here is $20,790 per year regardless of your residency status.
You can look into school-specific, local, and nationwide engineering scholarships to offset the cost of your education. The Florida Engineering Society funds approximately $30,000 of scholarships for engineering students every year. They award named scholarships, university scholarships, and FPEG scholarships.
After you graduate with a Bachelor's degree or Master's degree in aerospace engineering, you're ready to take the next step in your career. You must get your license from the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. You have to pay a $230 application fee, at which point you can sit for the Professional Engineer exam. This exam is fairly rigorous, so it's important to study hard. When you pass your exam, you can be licensed as a professional engineer.
You may want to look into joining local groups like the Florida Engineering Society. Professional development is an essential part of this field, and membership in the Florida Engineering Society gives you access to exclusive educational opportunities. You can also stay on top of legislative affairs that may affect your career.