Propulsion engineers strive to improve the performance and reliability of rocket motors, jet engines, and compressors. These engineers work primarily in the aerospace industry to design propulsion systems and parts such as propellant systems, engines, pumps, pressurization tanks, and control systems.
Propulsion engineers may develop conceptual designs on a computer, though the ability to sketch designs manually is often necessary. Research duties may be necessary to determine the best ways to construct systems and parts, and some work is done independently while collaboration is usually necessary. Many positions require years of experience, and regular analyses are necessary to determine how items perform in the field. Propulsion engineers are also present during the integration of systems and parts into vehicles such as airplanes and rockets.
Propulsion engineers may oversee activities related to new development, and cost analyses may be necessary to determine the feasibility of certain projects. They may also create automated workflow systems to reduce the costs of engineering in the future, and documentation of these activities is often necessary to improve efficiency. A bachelor's degree is generally required by employers, and a master's degree may be necessary for some positions.