Aerospace Software Engineer: What They Do, Salary & How to Hire

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Rafael Timbó
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Rafael Timbó
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Chief Technology Officer
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Not sure what an Aerospace Software Engineer does, and what industries they typically work in? Read on for all the ins and outs of whether this is the addition you need for your company.
Published on
February 22, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

If you want to design and build aircraft software, consider hiring aerospace software engineers. Unlike other software developers, these professionals are well-versed in aerodynamics and other aerospace principles. They can develop and test flight software, flight simulations, algorithms, and more. Some may also be able to develop new features for aerospace electronics and apps.

Read on to learn more about aerospace software engineers, their salaries, and their duties. We'll also provide tips for hiring top-notch aerospace software engineers.

What is an Aerospace Software Engineer?

An aerospace software engineer is a programmer who designs, builds, and tests software systems for helicopters, airplanes, and other aircraft. Most aerospace programmers work for the army, but some work for private companies like Honeywell and Boeing.

Best Software for Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace software developers must be familiar with a wide range of aerospace engineering software, including:

MATLAB

A numeric and programming computing platform, MATLAB is used by scientists and engineers to develop algorithms, analyze data, and create models.

MATLAB consists of a programming language that expresses array and matrix mathematics and a desktop environment for design processes and iterative analysis. It also provides:

  • A Live Editor for creating scripts that combine formatted text, code, and output as an executable notebook
  • Interactive apps that let you see how different algorithms function with your data
  • The ability to scale your analyses on GPUs, clusters, and clouds with only minor changes
  • External language interfaces that let you use MATLAB with Python, Fortran, Java, C, and other languages

Code Composer Studio

Code Composer Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for developing applications for Texas Instruments (TI) embedded processors. It provides various tools for creating and debugging embedded applications, including:

  • A source code editor
  • An optimizing C/C++ compiler
  • A project build environment
  • A profiler
  • A debugger

LabVIEW

LabVIEW is a graphical programming environment for developing automated validation, research, and production test systems. It has everything engineers need for building automated test systems, including:

  • Connectivity to other industry-standard protocols and languages
  • Drivers for automating every data acquisition hardware and instrument
  • Interactive and configurable display elements
  • Thousands of analysis functions

Engineers can use LabVIEW to:

  • Measure hardware systems with actuators and sensors
  • Create production test systems
  • Validate or verify electronic designs
  • Design industrial equipment and smart machines

OpenFOAM

A free, open-source computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, OpenFOAM has a large user base across most areas of science and engineering. It can be used to solve problems involving chemical reactions, heat transfers, acoustics, electromagnetics, and much more.

OpenFOAM is updated every six months to include customer-sponsored contributions and developments. To ensure its quality, OpenFOAM is regularly tested by ESI-OpenCFD's development partners, application specialists, and selected customers. It's also supported by ESI's global infrastructure.

Junior/Entry-Level Aerospace Software Engineer Salary

Junior or entry-level aerospace software engineers have under five years of professional experience. They typically require a lot of mentorship and educational opportunities.

The average junior or entry-level aerospace software engineer in the U.S. earns starting $105,000 annually and can go up from there.

Most companies expect junior and entry-level aerospace software programmers to have the following skills:

  • One to five years of programming experience
  • Knowledge of engineering principles
  • Some knowledge of project management fundamentals
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office software tools, such as Access, Word, and Excel
  • Familiarity with OpenFOAM, LabVIEW, and Code Composer Studio
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills

Senior Aerospace Software Engineer Salary

Senior aerospace engineers have over eight years of real-life experience. They are typically expected to lead and mentor junior and entry-level colleagues.

The average senior aerospace programmer in the U.S. makes about $140,000 yearly.

Senior aerospace engineers should have the following skills:

  • At least eight years of experience with multiple programming and hardware languages, including Python, Ada95, Assembly, and C
  • At least six years of experience working on navigation systems and simulation
  • Experience using machine learning for big data analysis
  • Robust oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of real-time executives and operating systems
  • Experience working in an agile software development environment
  • Thorough knowledge of electronic hardware guidance and airborne software
  • Experience creating software that complies with Means of Compliances, such as DO-178B/C, FAA AC 20-115D, and FAA Order 8110.49A

What Does an Aerospace Software Engineer Do?

Aerospace software engineers have many responsibilities, including:

  • Participating in aviation system design reviews
  • Reviewing and assessing suppliers' electronic hardware and airborne software certification plans
  • Performing process and technical audits at suppliers' facilities
  • Reviewing and assessing suppliers' electronic and airborne software designs
  • Assessing hardware and software test results and determining final compliance status
  • Preparing and reviewing design compliance reports
  • Resolving compliance, safety, and technical deficiencies

How To Hire an Aerospace Software Engineer

Hiring high-quality aerospace software engineers can be challenging, especially if you have limited time and resources. Follow these steps to quickly find and recruit the best picks for your team:

1. How To Find and Hire the Best Aerospace Software Engineers

First, you must find a suitable platform for hiring the best aerospace software programmers. The best places for sourcing leading-edge aerospace experts include:

Tech Hubs

Tech hubs are neighborhoods, suburbs, cities, and buildings that connect entrepreneurs with first-rate tech talent. They're a great way of meeting talent face-to-face. Some of the best tech hubs for hiring cutting-edge talent include:

Job Platforms

If you don't have the resources to fly to tech hubs, consider hiring from job sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor. These sites provide numerous tools for building aerospace engineering pipelines, including:

  • Advanced filters for locating the perfect hire
  • Powerful collaboration and analytics tools
  • Personalized messaging
  • Employer branding tools

Talent Marketplaces

Hiring talent through tech hubs and job sites requires you to manually test and vet job seekers for their personalities, experience, and skills. This can easily take months, especially if you have very specific job requirements.

Luckily, there's a quick and cost-effective way to hire aerospace software engineers — by joining a tech talent marketplace. Unlike other hiring platforms, talent marketplaces provide access to pre-vetted aerospace engineering talent, so you don't have to do any vetting. All you have to do is tell the talent marketplace about your project. In a few days, the marketplace will send you a list of handpicked engineers for your team. You can then interview and hire the ones you like.

2. Write a Detailed Job Description

If you're recruiting talent from job boards and tech hubs, you need to write a detailed project ad.

Here's what a sample aerospace software engineering ad looks like:

Remote Senior Aerospace Software Engineer — Revelo

Revelo wants to hire a Remote Senior Aerospace Software Engineer. Candidates must live and work in the following time zones:

  • Eastern Standard Time (EST)
  • Mountain Standard Time (MST)
  • Central Standard Time (CST)
  • Pacific Standard Time (PST)

Company Bio:

Revelo is Latin America's top tech talent marketplace. We match FAANG-caliber tech talent with startups around the world. Learn more about us on our website.

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Develop, test, and debug flight-critical software and hardware that complies with DO-178C/DO-0254
  • Oversee flight software development across products, including flight controls, platform software, battery management, navigation, displays, surveillance, and others
  • Work with external suppliers and internal development teams through Stages of Involvement (SOI) audits to meet DO-178C/DO-0254 requirements
  • Implement and maintain quality assurance documentation, policies, and processes
  • Audit software development lifecycles and participate in software and hardware reviews
  • Mentor junior and entry-level colleagues
  • Take ownership of software and hardware designs

Required Skills and Experience:

  • Over five years of experience in a related field
  • Hands-on experience certifying safety-critical hardware and software
  • Familiarity with aerospace engineering software and technologies, including MATLAB and LabVIEW
  • Experience with supplier management
  • Experience with agile software development
  • Experience with AS9100 quality system
  • Proven track record developing and testing motor controls

Compensation and Benefits:

  • $128,000 to $132,000 per year, depending on experience
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Wellness program
  • Health and dental insurance
  • Work from home

Schedule:

  • 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST
  • Monday to Friday

3. Ask the Right Interview Questions

Finally, you need to ask piercing questions that reveal what candidates can bring to the table. This applies whether you're hiring through a tech hub, job site, or talent marketplace.

Here are some examples:

  • What drew you to aerospace software engineering?
  • What is your experience with engineering?
  • What is your favorite programming language and why?
  • How familiar are you with DO-178C and other standards that govern the certification of software for airborne systems?
  • What is the most difficult part of being an aerospace software engineer?
  • What is the easiest part of being an aerospace software engineer?
  • Have you worked in an agile environment before? How did you find it?

Hire Aerospace Software Engineers Today

Aerospace software engineers aren't your run-of-the-mill programmers. They have the knowledge and experience to create and test flight simulations and flight software that complies with DO-178C and other standards for airborne systems software. They can also develop new features for aerospace applications and electronics.

Interested in hiring the best aerospace software engineers for your team? Partner with Revelo. As Latin America's premier tech talent marketplace, we offer access to thousands of FAANG-caliber aerospace software programmers.

Contact us today to hire aerospace software engineers.

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