MadSci Network: Astronomy

Re: Careers in NASA operations

Area: Astronomy
Posted By: John Haberman, Space Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Center, Greenbelt MD
Date: Tue Mar 26 13:00:34 1996

All careers in the areas indicated will require at least a Bachelor's degree. You will be competing with many other very smart persons so those with the highest grades and those whose backgrounds offer special knowledge will get the jobs. After you are hired and have demonstrated your abilities you will probably be offered an opportunity to continue your education, paid for by your employer, allowing you to get a more advanced knowledge and degree.

Persons working as engineers, mechanical and electrical technicians, meteorologists, nutritionists and communications personnel will generally begin working after receiving a Bachelor's degree. Special training, clothing and tools will be provided.

Those interested in technician employment must be interested and able to work with their hands. They must be able to build and fix small and very detailed items without making errors. They must also be willing to sometimes work long days and on the weekends when a job needs to be done. Specialized clothing such as lab coats and safety glasses and ear (hearing) protection devices will be necessary.

Many of those working in the communications areas were trained as engineers because they must be able to monitor the informating being returned from space and make immediate decisions about how to correct any problems observed.

If your interest is being a flight trainer, you must also be an airplane pilot. Many of these persons joined the military after receiving their Bachelor's degree where they learn to fly.

If you want to be a medical doctor, you must attend medical school. This will take you a number of years to complete. To remain qualified as a medical doctor you have to continue to take classes to improve your knowledge of new medical advances.

If your interest is to become a Space Scientist you will have to get at least a PhD degree. This will take you, typically, 4 to 6 more years after you receive your Bachelor's degree. It is very useful to take as many classes in areas, other than your major field, that are related to your areas of interest. For example, If your major is chemistry, be sure to take as many physics, mathematics and engineering classes as possible. By having a broader knowledge base than others competing for a job you will improve your chances of being hired. As a scientist (explorer) you will become involved with existing projects. You are also expected to use your creativity to determine future missions. Coming up with new ideas is very difficult because there are many other smart people already doing this. If you work in a laboratory you will need lab coats, safety glasses and possibly hearing protection.

It is very important, regardless of your area of specialization, to be able to work and communicate with others as part of a team. Regardless of your specialized interests you MUST do well in language arts (English) classes. The most important tool for all working in space exploration is the ability to communicate what they are doing.

It is difficult to predict the future employment opportunities in the areas of space exploration. The costs of this type of work are very large and are paid for mostly by the government. Each year Congress considers and revises their assesment about the importance of space exploration. However, if you are very smart and have good ideas about how to do work considered to be important and if you can show how to do this work at low costs you will find a job in the field of space science or exploration.

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      The comments in this communication are mine,
        not those of the U.S. Government, or NASA.
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