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Careers in Space Studies

 

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The need for space professionals is becoming more critical in both industry and the military. Employment opportunities are expected to be strong for disciplines both technical and operational in nature. As society moves toward a “wireless world,” the technologies of choice will be more based in space simply due to the fact that the footprint of the space-based tools will provide the best and cheapest “scalable” product. Virtually every aspect of our day-to-day lives is impacted, influenced, or dependent upon space-based capabilities. Examples are found in the form of telecommunications, navigation satellites, earth observations satellites, and space-based components providing solar weather, scientific investigations, and hazards detection, to name just a few. Governments will continue to be strong advocates, operators, and users of space technology and will continue to either hire directly or, more likely, contract for services resulting in strong demand for qualified space professionals.

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Useful Skills within the Space Studies Field

Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.

Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.

Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Active Listening — Giving your full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Careers


Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the space studies field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry through our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or speak with a career coach.

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. Because space studies encompasses a wide variety of entry level and advance career opportunities, the career field you choose may require additional education or experience.

Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technician
Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers
Atmospheric and Space Scientists
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary

Avionics Technicians
General and Operations Managers
Geoscientists - Except Hydrologists and Geographers
Secondary School Teachers - Except Special and Career/Technical Education
Quality Control Systems Managers
 

Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. Use the sample list of organizations that offer internships for both graduate and undergraduate space studies students below:

ALION Science and Technology
Boeing
Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology
Lockheed Martin
Lunar and Planetary Institute
National Academies: Space Studies Board

National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
Missile Defense Agency
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
United Technologies
 

In addition to the organizations mentioned above, there are government-organized internship programs, many of which require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best way to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search USAJobs.gov, or to look at the agencies’ career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.

Pathways
The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students as well as training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans, who, due to their military service obligation, have up to six years to apply). The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)
PMF is designed to attract outstanding federal service members from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in and commitment to a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible for nomination, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expecting to complete an advanced degree from a qualifying college or university during the current academic year. Graduate students who have had their degree conferred in the preceding two years from the opening of the vacancy announcement are also eligible for PMF.

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense and aims to provide summer work experience and, in some cases, full-time employment to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of which makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines

There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in space studies. The list below provides a few example places one might find employment using their degree.

Aerospace Corporation
Echostar
Honeywell
Lockheed Martin
NASA

Paragon
Space Careers
Smithsonian Institution
Telesat
 

While many of the major job search engines will have several positions to choose from, the list below is specific to the field of space studies.

Space Careers

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Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations

Involvement in professional organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on new technology, tools, and best practices in your field. Professional organizations are also a great networking opportunity. Below are a few professional organizations you may be interested in as a space studies major.

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB): National Research Council
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
National Air Transportation Association (NATA)
Satellite Industry Association (SIA)
Space Foundation

Get Connected: Social Media

Social media allows students and alumni the opportunity to connect with their fellow classmates as well as professionals in their field.

NASA - LinkedIn
University Space Studies Program - LinkedIn
URSA - LinkedIn

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