22 Jobs in the Space Industry To Explore (Plus Duties)
Updated July 24, 2023
Space exploration and the possibility of scientific discovery are often common perceptions of what it's like to work in the aerospace industry. While the media and stories often show astronauts as the most common career path in aerospace, you can pursue many more professions in this industry that don't involve traveling to space. You can also find job opportunities that don't require advanced skill sets and credentials in science, mathematics or technology, including roles in production and project management.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of pursuing a job in the space industry and provide a list of roles to consider with their respective salary information and primary job duties.
Benefits of jobs in the space industry
Jobs in the space industry include a range of varied fields, such as science, manufacturing, research and other specialties. These opportunities may be through the government or private companies, and many private organizations have contracts with federal agencies. Pursuing one of these careers allows you to participate in the development and creation of cutting-edge projects. It may also allow you to follow and share your passion with your community and peers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track data for space scientists specifically. Instead, it projects significant employment growth in related fields. For example, from 2021 to 2031, the BLS projects an 8% increase in the employment of physicists and astronomers and a 4% increase in job availability for atmospheric scientists. The BLS attributes this growth to people leaving the labor force to retire or pursue other jobs and expects most of the available positions to relate to research and development.
22 jobs in the space industry to explore
Consider the following jobs in the space industry you may pursue:
For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
1. Aerospace technician
National average salary: $45,371 per year
Primary duties: An aerospace technician or technologist may work closely with aerospace and avionics engineers to install, operate and maintain the equipment that's necessary to develop and test spacecraft and aircraft. These technicians are highly skilled in aeronautics and aerospace and are often integral members of a larger team that produces and operates spacecraft. They also support quality assurance by ensuring the precision and safety of the equipment, components and vehicle systems space organizations may use.
2. Avionics technician
National average salary: $46,334 per year
Primary duties: An avionics technician assists with communication, navigation and other systems related to aircraft and spacecraft. They record problems and repairs and may advise engineers on potential improvements for future designs. Common tasks for avionics technicians to complete include installing instrument panels, replacing components and testing various electronic instruments.
National average salary: $60,716 per year
Primary duties: An electrician works with various electrical components. They may install, maintain and repair controls and wiring systems. Electricians work with a variety of systems to ensure the proper functioning of aircraft and spacecraft, such as communication systems and lighting systems.
Read more: Learn About Being an Electrician
National average salary: $61,749 per year
Primary duties: An accountant maintains an organization's financial records. They may prepare various financial statements and related documents, audit statements for accuracy and oversee the organization's spending. Accountants also assist with monitoring budgets and helping prevent issues with financial records.
Read more: Learn About Being an Accountant
5. Laser technician
National average salary: $61,788 per year
Primary duties: A laser technician works with a variety of devices with laser technology and a range of laser equipment. They handle assembling, calibrating, operating and testing lasers. Laser technicians also assist with performing troubleshooting and maintenance on lasers that may be critical components of technical equipment necessary for space exploration.
6. Administration manager
National average salary: $67,329 per year
Primary duties: An administration manager in the aerospace sector is often responsible for overseeing the administrative operations of their space and flight organization. They often manage the development of organizational budgets and processes. Managers in administrative roles in the space industry may also oversee and maintain the financial records of their organizations in coordination with financial teams and accountants.
7. GIS analyst
National average salary: $69,876 per year
Primary duties: A GIS analyst works with highly sophisticated geological information systems, which are critical tools in navigation in flight. GIS analysts may closely study and document the data they work with based on specific criteria their space organizations outline. They also support the design and development of organizational databases that help aerospace teams integrate GIS with additional technical processes by collaborating with ground station technicians.
8. Satellite technician
National average salary: $79,017 per year
Primary duties: A satellite technician, also called a satellite technologist, works with satellites and the components and devices related to them. They install, maintain and repair all aspects of satellites. Satellite technologists may also troubleshoot satellites or perform other tests to ensure they function properly.
9. Quality assurance manager
National average salary: $79,068 per year
Primary duties: Quality assurance (QA) managers in aerospace roles monitor the operation and activities of the quality assurance teams in charge of evaluating aircraft and spacecraft production. They may be responsible for staffing QA teams for production processes, and they often organize and help implement quality and reliability testing for their organizations' aerospace technology and production output.
10. Production manager
National average salary: $79,357 per year
Primary duties: An aerospace or avionics production manager usually directs and oversees the production department of their organization. Production facilities that design and develop aircraft and spacecraft commonly employ production managers to supervise these complex operations. They follow established procedures and guidelines to ensure the safety of personnel, equipment and the environment.
Read more: Learn About Being a Production Manager
11. Project manager
National average salary: $86,217 per year
Primary duties: A project manager in the space industry often supervises the technical design and development of various engineering projects, including spacecraft, aircraft and related components like rocket boosters, communications systems and electronics systems. They may also oversee all communications and coordination between engineering and production teams to ensure successful outputs. Additionally, project managers are responsible for monitoring and organizing project schedules and budgets.
Read more: Learn About Being a Project Manager
12. Mechanical engineer
National average salary: $89,586 per year
Primary duties: A mechanical engineer designs, builds and integrates different types of mechanical devices and machines. In the space industry, these engineers often develop complex mechanical components and spacecraft parts for space missions, such as engines, sensors and tools. Mechanical engineers often work with other engineers to develop complex products, like collaborating with aerospace engineers to create a steering mechanism for rocket nozzles.
Read more: Learn About Being a Mechanical Engineer
13. Test engineer
National average salary: $90,684 per year
Primary duties: Flight test engineers often support the feasibility, safety and quality assurance testing that occurs as aerospace equipment, components and machines complete assembly and production. These specialized engineers frequently work on test flights, ensuring aircraft and spacecraft mechanics and functionality meets and exceeds expectations for safe use in space and high-atmospheric missions. Flight test engineers may also work closely with aeronautical engineers and technicians to design, develop and evaluate complex systems for spaceflight.
14. Research scientist
National average salary: $93,582 per year
Primary duties: A research scientist oversees the planning, development and integration of various scientific experiments that help aerospace teams understand specific conditions of spaceflight. In a technical capacity, research scientists may use code to evaluate different research objectives to ensure feasibility. A research scientist's findings can be critical to the success of space missions.
15. Atmospheric scientist
National average salary: $94,030 per year
Primary duties: An atmospheric scientist, which is similar to a meteorologist, observes the climate and weather and may observe various atmospheric phenomena. They gather and interpret data to learn more about the climate and weather, and they primarily focus on Earth but may also research other planets. Some atmospheric scientists also use computer programs and other tools to prepare short- and long-term forecasts.
Related: 8 Jobs in Meteorology
16. Robotics engineer
National average salary: $94,544 per year
Primary duties: A robotics engineer designs, creates, tests, maintains, repairs and updates robots and robotic equipment. This includes correctly programming the robot so it may collect data for the robotics engineer to analyze. Robotics engineers often also provide technical support for robots, and they frequently debug computer programs.
Read more: Learn About Robotics Engineering
17. Aerospace engineer
National average salary: $104,255 per year
Primary duties: An aerospace engineer works with flight and focuses on flight activities within and outside of the Earth's atmosphere. They may design, construct and test things like aircraft, missiles, satellites and other spacecraft. Aerospace engineers consider various conditions to ensure all equipment functions properly.
Read more: Learn About Being an Aerospace Engineer
18. Electronics engineer
National average salary: $104,757 per year
Primary duties: An electronics engineer works with specific electronic equipment, and they often have one niche area of focus. They inspect existing components and develop new components to ensure equipment functions optimally and safely. In addition to developing components, electronics engineers write maintenance procedures to assist others with their maintenance.
19. Propulsion engineer
National average salary: $109,925 per year
Primary duties: A propulsion engineer is responsible for designing, developing and testing the engines in rockets, satellites, missiles and other aircraft and spacecraft. They often work closely with other engineers, including electronics, mechanical and systems engineers, to ensure the safety and efficacy of various spacecraft and equipment. Propulsion engineers are critical to the success of spacecraft launches and flights in space due to the need for these complex rocket systems.
Read more: How To Become a Propulsion Engineer
20. Software developer
National average salary: $114,685 per year
Primary duties: A software developer creates applications or software programs that users may use to perform specific tasks. They may assess current programs and collaborate with scientists and other project professionals to determine a solution. Software developers may create software for satellites and other technology.
Read more: Learn About Being a Software Developer
National average salary: $128,160 per year
Primary duties: An astronomer observes various objects within the universe, such as black holes, galaxies, moons, planets and stars. They collect and analyze data to learn more about the universe. Astronomers use a combination of Earth-based and space-based equipment to gather data.
Read more: Learn About Being an Astronomer
National average salary: $152,430 per year
Primary duties: A physicist researches laws of the natural world and evaluates how this affects practical and theoretical goals. They may study atoms, energy, matter, molecules, space, time and similar topics. Physicists perform research and develop theories based on their findings and existing mathematical principles and equations, and they may perform their own experiments and formally publish their findings.
Read more: Learn About Being a Physicist
Note that figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) helped supplement data from Indeed.
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