Career Options Involving Outer Space
Outer space has interested people for generations and still remains largely unexplored. Studying and learning about this great unknown requires many different jobs. Here, we explore a few of the career options that involve outer space.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Aerospace Engineers||$109,650||-2% (Decline)|
|Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians||$68,020||4%|
|Producers and Directors||$70,950||9%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for Jobs Involving Outer Space
Astronomers could be considered the scientists of outer space, as they study galaxies, black holes, stars, planets and more. Their research requires the use of complex telescopes, and their findings are often reported to the public and other scientists through research papers and presentations. They may use computer models and data collected from their observations to try and support or refute a particular theory in the field. Most of these scientists hold a Ph.D.
Aerospace engineers, and even more specifically astronautical engineers, design the spacecrafts that travel into outer space, including satellites. These engineers must develop technology and structures that will properly function once a craft leaves Earth's atmosphere. They are responsible for testing their designs and troubleshooting any problems that arise. They also usually have to work within certain quality standards and timelines. Aerospace engineers need at least a bachelor's degree and may have to obtain security clearance for certain government-related projects.
Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work closely with aerospace engineers to test spacecrafts and the technologies that may eventually travel to outer space. They are the ones who usually operate and maintain equipment for the tests - including computer simulation programs - and monitor the quality of the aircraft systems that are being produced. They manage many of the details of the testing process, including making sure test requirements are met and that testing procedures are safe. These professionals usually need an associate's degree, but could find work with a diploma or certificate. Like aerospace engineers, they may need to obtain special security clearance for projects.
Similar to astronomers, physicists use complex lab equipment and data to try and prove or disprove various scientific theories. Their work generally focuses on studying interactions between matter and energy. Plasma physicists in particular study specific interactions in outer space. Their work may be used to generate new technologies or discover new sources of energy. Physicists also present their findings in research papers and complex reports. They usually need a Ph.D., but entry-level jobs may only require a bachelor's degree.
Producers and Directors
Although their work does not directly involve outer space, producers and directors can help create visual images of outer space for the general public. They may conduct extensive research about various topics related to outer space to produce fictional or non-fictional movies and documentaries about space. Their work may require them to work within a specific budget and timeline, hire actors, shoot and edit footage and then promote their finished product. Most producers and directors have years of experience in the field and at least a bachelor's degree.
Like producers and directors, technical writers do not usually have direct experience with outer space, but could be called in to assist astronomers, physicists or other scientists studying outer space. They may be asked to help these scientists present very complex, scientific information about their findings in a way that is relatable and understandable to the general public, who may or may not have a scientific background. In these instances, technical writers may develop charts and tables or use photographs and other visual images to help explain difficult material to the public. Technical writers may even be utilized by scientists to help them apply for grants to fund their research. Technical writers need a college degree and usually have some experience in the technical field that they write about.