Weapons Engineer

Design, develop, and test weapons for the government.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$50,000 – $139,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Weapons Engineers do?

Weapons Engineers design, develop, test, and manage weapons and weapons systems on behalf of the federal government. Employed by the Department of Defense, the military, or a private defense contractor, they’re essentially Engineers — usually Mechanical Engineers, although they might also be Electrical Engineers, Nuclear Engineers, Aerospace Engineers, or Chemical Engineers — who specialize in developing technologies for use in national security.

In prehistoric times, wars were fought with clubs, axes, and spears. In Greco-Roman times, they were fought with swords and shields. In the Middle Ages, battering rams, catapults, and crossbows were common. And during the Industrial Revolution, cannons and guns were the norm.

Today, the weapons used in war are a lot more sophisticated, consisting not only of tanks and torpedoes but also of technology, including computers, GPS, radar, and even robots. All of that requires the expertise of a Weapons Engineer.

As a Weapons Engineer, you’re like all Engineers in that your job is all about scientific and mathematical problem solving. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, you address questions of weight, shape, velocity, aerodynamics, and impact in order to design weapons that hit their target and fulfill their mission, efficiently and effectively. To do this, you integrate mechanical, electrical, and computer systems — including radar, sonar, explosives, and ballistics — into designs for missiles, bombs, rockets, and mines. You also act as a Project Manager who delegates tasks to Engineering Technicians and Engineering Technologists to make sure weapons are designed, tested, and manufactured on time and on budget.

Simply put: Although the military handles the firing, launching, engaging, and dropping of weapons, you handle the thinking, planning, and designing of them.

Should I be a Weapons Engineer?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Design Engineer

    How to become a Weapons Engineer

    We recommend at least a Bachelor's degree. Check out these schools offering Weapons Engineer-related education!
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