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Aerospace Engineer Salary: Worth Taking Out A Student Loan?

aerospace engineer salary

Here is the critical moment of your life; you have long dreamed about being an aerospace engineer, and now you can get a degree for it. Should you go for it? The decision is pretty simple if you have the necessary funds. Education in aerospace engineering involves the usage of advanced technologies. Therefore, the education costs are quite high compared to other degrees. If you lack financial resources for the degree, it is when you have to think twice before enrolling. Student debt is helpful- it allows students in need to achieve their desired educational goals. However, debt repayment will turn into a financial nightmare when you graduate and struggle to earn a high aerospace engineer salary

Is aerospace engineering education worth taking out a student loan? This guide discusses the answer to this question in detail and gives you pro tips to deal with student debt. 

What Do Aerospace Engineers Do?

Aerospace engineers usually deal with the design of satellites, missiles, air, and spacecraft. In general, they are responsible for developing assigned projects or top-notch innovations in the aerospace industry. 

Checking the technical and financial feasibility, determining the threats to the health and safety of the projects are among their job responsibilities. Such positions also involve close contact with the customer as it is crucial to understand the requirements set by the customer to deliver satisfactory solutions. 

Aerospace Engineer Salary

Debt should be an investment into the future. Having a well-paid job due to education (even with student debt) is a guarantee that you will not struggle with repayment. The future seems bright looking at the figures for aerospace engineer salaries. The median aerospace engineer salary, according to PayScale, is around $85,000 per year. In entry-level positions, you can find jobs mostly with a $70,000 starting salary. As you get experience to mid-career, the salary level increases to $95,000. Fully experienced engineers with more than 20 years of experience can receive around $135,000 yearly. 

Aerospace Engineer Student Debt

aerospace engineer salary

Typically, you will need a bachelor’s degree to find a well-paid position. As aerospace education involves advanced technologies, the tuition fees in such colleges can be quite high. Besides, if you want to study in a private school, you need to consider the huge student debt awaiting you. Usually, student loan debt for aerospace engineering is between $60,000-$200,000.  

How to Evaluate if Student Debt is Worth to Take?

Before you decide to get a student loan, you need to analyze the process carefully. Student loan debt can quickly accelerate and become a financial nightmare. Hence, borrowers need to know what is expected of them in the future.

In general, whether you are an aerospace engineer or any other field student, you should know that debt is not a problem or challenge. Instead, debt, being an external funding source, helps borrowers achieve many goals that they could not otherwise. However, debt can turn into a challenge if not used properly. 

When Taking a Debt is Beneficial?

Student debt allows borrowers to finance their education. Aerospace engineering education can be costly. Getting a student loan can help you to cover tuition fees, costs of books, supplies, accommodation, transportation, etc. In other words, student debt makes students need to get one step closer to their dream education.

Yet, keep in mind that debt is beneficial when it can be turned into an investment. The investment brings returns in the future. It generates costs temporarily. If you can get student debt and invest it into your right education, you will be on the safe side. Once you generate enough money, thanks to your education, you will be able to return the debt and enjoy a well-paid position.

Getting a degree increases your chance of finding a better job. According to Forbes, individuals can experience an increase in their salaries by 25% due to having a college degree. However, it is not only about having a degree. Rather you need to ensure that your degree is worthy.

In this sense, if the aerospace engineer salary is higher than what you owe for the education, your student loan will be a good debt. We will discuss some techniques to evaluate debt in subsequent sections.

When Taking a Debt is Bad?

It all comes to one point; your debt is worthy if you can get a well-paid position. Otherwise, you will end up struggling with repayment. If you do not repay the debt on time, the government can garnish your wage or take all tax and other benefits. 

What Qualifications are Required for Aerospace Engineers?

We already mentioned that the decision of whether to take or not to take a student loan depends on the future income level. Therefore, if you believe that you will get a well-paid job after graduation, you should invest in education through receiving student loans.

But the question remains how to ensure that you will find a good job in the future. Sure, there exist many uncontrollable factors as the future is uncertain. For example, there might emerge a pandemic that will leave millions of people unemployed. However, keeping external factors aside, you should ensure that you meet all qualification requirements for future job possibilities. 


Generally, aerospace engineers need to have excellent math, critical, analytical thinking and coding skills. In addition, engineering design, technical analysis, project management, software skills for C# programming language, Java, etc., are needed to find a well-paid position. Additionally, you can get certificates and licenses to increase your chances of employment. Keep in mind that the more qualified you are, the higher the aerospace engineer salary would be.

In short, do not let fate decide whether you will be able to repay a student debt. Instead, be qualified for your position to find a job opportunity as soon as you graduate. In this way, your student debt will remain beneficial. 

Student Debt to Salary Ratio

aerospace engineer salary

Now that you know the general logic behind debt decisions, it is time to put it into numbers. Let’s say you approximately know your future aerospace engineer salary and the required amount of student debt. You should calculate the student debt to salary ratio, in this case, to see if the debt will be covered by the earnings effectively. 

When choosing a salary base, focus on starting salary rather than earnings for more experienced aerospace engineers. Imagine the following numbers:

Average starting salary: $60,000 

  1. On average aerospace engineering student debt in private school is equal to $30,000 (per year)
  2. On Average aerospace engineering student debt in public school is equal to $8,000 (per year) 

To calculate the ratio, we need to divide average debt by starting salary. 

  1. Student Debt to Salary ratio= $30,000/$60,000= 50%
  2. Student Debt to Salary ratio= $8,000/$60,000= 13%

What do Calculations Show?

The main aim in such a calculation should be getting as low a ratio as possible. For example, from the above calculations, you can roughly conclude that half of your yearly salary will be gone for student debt if you choose to study in a private school. A lower ratio shows you will be left with more money when affording the repayment. In addition, it means you will easily cover other living costs, like food and shelter, once the monthly debt payment is made. Generally, debt payments should not exceed 8-12% of monthly income for living without debt concerns.

Aerospace Engineer Student Loan Repayment

If you think you cannot afford student debt repayment, do not give up. There still exist options for you to make student debt easier to repay. 

First, do not assume that you should get loans for the whole cost of education. Even if you and your family do not have a budget, you can apply for scholarships. Federal, state, or school scholarship programs can exist to finance part of educational costs. 

Even if you accrued high debt, there are options for you. Typically, low-income borrowers can benefit from federal Income-driven repayment options. These repayment plans are based on your income level. For example, they can require you to pay 10% of discretionary income as a monthly payment amount. In this way, you do not struggle with huge loan payments and repay the debt easily. 

Besides, after the repayment period ends, all remaining balances will be forgiven. Check the following section for more details on Income-Driven Repayment plans.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

When you get a federal loan, you access multiple repayment plans. Each plan has a different repayment amount and payback period. Therefore, you can easily choose the most suitable repayment for your budget.

If you struggle financially, one of the best options is to move to an Income-Driven Repayment plan. As its name suggests, this plan takes your salary and family size as a base. Thus, if you earn less, you pay less. Alternatively, if your salary is high, your monthly loan repayment amount will be high. 

There exist four sub-categories of Income-Driven Repayment plans.

  1. REPAYE- this plan requires 10% of your monthly discretionary income as a repayment amount. Your repayment period will be 20 years if you get undergraduate aerospace education and 25 years for undergraduate/professional education.
  2. PAYE- similarly, your repayment amount will equal 10% of discretionary income, but the repayment period is fixed to 20 years. 
  3. Income-Based – if you received a loan before July 2014, the repayment amount is 10% of discretionary income. You will be required to repay the debt for 25 years. Otherwise, you need to forego 15% of your discretionary income for 20 years. 
  4. Income-Contingent – in this plan, you pay either 20% of discretionary income or a fixed amount for 25 years.

What if I Get Private Aerospace Engineer Student Debt?

As a student, you can get either federal or private student loans. However, the general rule is that federal loans should be preferred over private loans. One of the reasons for such preference is that private loans are usually more expensive. Federal loans can be forgiven, canceled, or discharged through several programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Borrower’s Defense to Repayment. 

However, if you do not qualify for a federal loan, you can get a private student loan. It will be more challenging to repay, but having a well-paid job can save your finances.

In case you are fed up with your private lender or high interest, you can consider student loan refinancing. 

Student Loan Refinancing

Student Loan Refinancing

Even if your aerospace engineer salary is high, you can save more money by reducing loan costs. Student loan refinancing is available for federal and private loans. It is advisable not to refinance federal loans because you will lose eligibility to Income-driven repayment plans or forgiveness programs. However, if you do not qualify for such benefits, refinancing can be helpful.

The logic of refinancing is simple. First, you need to find a lower-cost student loan and use the funds to pay out your existing, more expensive student loan. For example, if you hear in the news that interest rates have decreased, you may find cheaper loan lenders. In this way, refinancing helps you to save money and change your lender.


Different from federal loans, refinancing loans require good credit performance. You need to have a high credit score, preferably more than 650, to qualify for the loan. Understandably, aerospace engineering students do not have good credit scores.

In such cases, you can get a cosigner to sign your loan agreement. A cosigner is a third-party individual such as a friend or family member who agrees to repay the debt if you fail. 

Besides credit score and cosigner, stable income is usually required for refinancing loans. 

Final Words

Aerospace engineers can get well-paid jobs easily if they have the necessary skills and a worthy bachelor’s degree. However, the education for aerospace engineering can be expensive, which requires high student debt. 

However, the aerospace engineer salary received can also be significant after graduation. Is it worth getting student debt for aerospace engineering education? The answer is yes if you consider acquiring the necessary skills and become highly qualified for well-paid positions. Even if your income is low, you can enjoy the benefits of Income-driven repayment or refinancing programs to save money. We would also advise you to get help from debt experts to make smart decisions. Debt specialists like those in Student Loans Resolved have years of experience with borrowers. They know what you should expect from student debt based on your field. Therefore, debt experts can develop a personalized debt repayment plan for aerospace engineers. Contact our experts for a free consultation now.