We’ve all done it. On clear, moonless nights removed from the bright lights of big cities and small towns alike, we have all looked towards the sky and wondered what it would be like to see “what’s out there.”
That’s what NASA does—it peers into space to see “what’s out there.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created by President Eisenhower in the late 1950s, and its primary responsibility is to act as the space program of the United States. Despite its creation during the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, NASA’s mission was to explore space for peaceful purposes.
Many of us wonder about space only during those moments of moonless clarity on starry nights. Others want to make it their mission in life.
So, who does NASA actually hire and what do you need to do to get a NASA job?
More Than Just Science Geeks
At first blush, you might conclude that NASA only hires engineers, physicists and other scientists with an alphabet soup of letters after their name. In some ways, that’s accurate—engineers and scientists are clearly mission critical to NASA. But they’re more than just a collection of science geeks.
NASA employs more than seventeen thousand people. Most of them will NOT go to space. For every one person that does go to space, there are a thousand other NASA employees that won’t—but those who don’t are just as mission-critical to NASA as the ones who do.
NASA needs not just scientists and engineers—they need skilled laborers to erect and maintain the facilities. They need IT and HR professionals, accountants, lawyers, administrators and so on. Whatever your skillset…develop it. You had better believe that there’s a NASA job for you.
How do you find that job that matches your skill set? A good start would be to visit the NASA careers website. Of all the positions available within the U.S. government, they are sorted into approximately fifty different categories. Half of those categories fall under the broad umbrella of “Trade, Craft or Labor.”
Skilled Labor Matters
NASA needs people from all backgrounds and skills to carry out their mission of space exploration. Especially skilled trades. Consider just this one example.
The International Space Station (ISS) has orbited our planet constantly since 2000 and has the record for the longest constant human occupation of a low-Earth satellite. Humans from seventeen different countries have visited this technological miracle.
With a constant human presence, NASA needs more than just scientists to solve day-to-day problems on the ISS. While the space station can’t maintain a skilled crew in space, they need expertise on the ground!! Like this:
Wiring problems? You had better have an electrician because if the electronics go out, the ISS won’t last long.
Blocked pipes? Call a space plumber. Liquids and gases don’t behave in zero gravity like they do on Earth.
Bulkhead fatigued? Need welding experts/machinists (again, the ISS won’t last long with a fatigued bulkhead or popped rivets)!
The point is that you don’t need to be a science whiz to get a NASA job (though it helps). Develop your OWN special talents and gifts…you don’t know just how far those gifts can take you.