The space industry is growing rapidly, and so is the amount of job opportunities available. While most people think of astronauts when they think of space, there are many space industry jobs that don’t come to mind as quickly. This blog will cover the most common jobs found in the space industry.
Engineering is a massive element when it comes to space projects. There are a wide variety of engineers that can play a large role in space, so here is a breakdown of the most common types of engineers in the space industry:
- Aerospace Engineers: Aerospace engineers apply the principles of engineering to vehicles designed for flight, such as space shuttles, planes, satellites, and more. These engineers are helpful as they can gauge whether an aircraft can complete a mission.
- General engineers: General engineers utilize their understanding of mathematics and other engineering principles to design machinery, such as engines, and use this knowledge to aid in a variety of projects in space. There are many areas in which general engineers contribute to the space industry.
- Computer Engineers: Computer engineers focus on the development and maintenance of computer board systems, like circuit boards, networks, routers, and processors. Computer engineers are crucial in the space industry, as much technology that we use is completely autonomous and/or relies heavily on computer systems for operation and communication. These individuals might specifically earn a computer science degree.
Engineers typically complete a traditional four-year degree program at a college or university. However, some engineers may choose to also obtain an extra two years of schooling to earn their master’s degree in engineering, so they can work in management-style positions.
Astrophysicists have a pretty big role — because they study what we know about the universe. Astrophysicists are trained to observe space through telescopes, satellites, and other imaging. Because of astrophysicists, we can have a better understanding of our galaxy and universe.
There are plenty of questions humans have had about the universe, and thanks to astrophysicists, we have been able to get answers and will continue to do so as technology advances in space and we continue to perform missions and research.
Most physicists will earn their degrees in a few different fields: most commonly astronomy, but they can also study physics or even engineering.
Another common career, but one person might not immediately think of, is the role of a communications specialist. Engaging the public with what’s going on in the space industry is crucial to its success.
For this reason, communications specialists are incredibly important for the work needing to be done. Public interest is important because it not only encourages the government to prioritize funding space, but also can interest people in pursuing a career in space.
Communication specialists don’t just talk — they are taking complex information from space organizations and mission staff, and they deliver that information to the public in an easy-to-understand format.
Anything that we know about space is thanks to the work of communication specialists. These individuals assist with press releases, maintain social media accounts like those of NASA, and help excite the public about space. Communication specialists typically get either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field such as communications, public relations, marketing, English, or journalism.
Atmospheric scientists are very popular in the space industry, even though their work typically focuses on the earth. Thanks to satellite technology, we are able to have a better understanding of climate and weather patterns, which atmospheric scientists study and observe. Because of this work, we can simply check our phones and see the anticipated forecast for the week ahead; sometimes even further out than that.
This work can also help us prepare for national disasters — think about how people who live in areas that commonly experience hurricanes can have days’ notice so they can evacuate, or those who live in the midwestern United States can know if there are atmospheric conditions likely to produce a tornado.
While there are atmospheric scientists who do work for NASA, many of them also work for other government agencies and organizations like the National Weather Service. It’s important to understand that the space industry goes beyond just focusing on the Moon or Mars but utilizing space technology and having a presence in space to better understand life on Earth.
Atmospheric scientists will typically earn a degree in meteorology or physical science — which is the science that focuses on Earth.
Although it has not always been the case, entrepreneurs are incredibly common in the space industry. This is because of the boom in the private space sector. Previously, NASA was essentially the only organization that focused on space exploration and was funded by the U.S. government. Now, private companies are developing technology for space exploration, and some of these companies are incredibly large and successful.
BlueOrgin, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic are some of the most popular private space companies, who all are making efforts to make space travel and tourism a possibility for everyday people. You do not have to own a giant corporation to be a space entrepreneur, as many of these companies got their success because they bought out smaller companies.
While these individuals can get a degree in entrepreneurship, most of these people are either retired military members or those who have worked in the aerospace industry. Of course, some of these individuals completely stumble upon the career of a space entrepreneur. Because of the flexibility of this role, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to become space entrepreneurs.
Learn About Space Careers with Center for Innovation and Education
Center for Innovation and Education is designed to help educators, students, and professionals learn more about space and the opportunities available to them. If you want to learn more about space industry jobs or are just interested in space in general, visit the Center for Innovation and Education website and explore the different resources available!
Interested in learning more about specific career opportunities in space? Check out our recent blog, 10 Industries You Didn’t Know Are Space Related.