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Space Careers: An Overview of Careers in Space

From the international space station, cube satellites, and the science to explore space. The space industry is full of wonders, and having a space career is a great accomplishment. This article will discuss the different aspects of a career in space. Topics discussed will be the different types of careers, next-level technologies and space activities, expertise fields within the space sector, and the multinational environment of space careers. This article is made for people who are thinking about switching space jobs or want to work in the space industry.

Finding the ideal space career

Space jobs span hundreds of specialties and skillsets, and therefore there are many career opportunities when you think of space careers. Space organizations require a variety of skills you need to develop to climb up. There is a lot of knowledge, hard skills, and soft skills involved with space careers.

Why your space career is important to you

When you are working on something, you want to feel competent, in control and have a sense of belonging. This is why your job and career are so essential for you. The best way to do this is to find the next challenge and master it. The next challenge can often be found in another place or a step up, which is why your space career can be important to you.

Why your space career is important to the industry

Your space career is essential to the industry because it supports the next space innovations. When you achieve your next challenge, the challenge you thought was complex suddenly becomes a lot easier for the next person after you. This way, we built a better industry and a brighter future together.

Types of space careers

There are many different types of space career paths you can take. We have some examples below.

  • Junior to executive
  • Junior to senior
  • Commercial to governmental
  • Governmental to commercial
  • New space to traditional space
  • Traditional space to new space
  • Contractor to internal
  • Multiple expertise fields to program manager

Junior to executive

A space career from junior to executive means starting at the bottom of the career ladder and keeping climbing until you reach the organization’s top. You start by getting an entry-level job, moving laterally through your career skillset, and finally making it to management. Many space organizations expect their people to stay with them for long periods because they need full commitment when dealing with the latest innovations. Management positions could be chief technology officers, department directors, or CEOs.

Junior to senior

Going from junior to senior means not climbing to the top but being the expert in your field. When you are a senior in your career, you are at the top of your field and speak to other experts who have similar experiences. The senior role is usually taken by individuals with many years of experience, who are respected in their industry, and they are essential for the organization they work for.

Commercial to space agencies/government

When working with commercial space companies, the roles are always changing because their goal is to improve/innovate the product or services they provide to the market. As you know, technology moves very fast, so the commercial space sector needs to adapt to this. When you want a more stable and secure job, you could switch to find this on the governmental side. The governmental jobs are often very stable, usually less innovative, but more secure than commercial space companies. While governmental jobs can also be highly innovative, it is a bit less common.

Space agencies/government to commercial

You will know how the government works and build important contacts when working for the government. This can be very useful when you move over to the commercial space sector because you will know more about how they operate. You could, for example, start as an information officer, policy adviser, project controller, development manager. It depends on the type of job you had at the government.

New space to traditional space

New space requires individuals to be at the frontier of engineering and science, and maintaining an understanding of the latest technologies is essential. If you have done this and now want to focus on development on a larger scale, you could switch to a more traditional space company that follows the legacy of previous engineers. Traditional space companies are the already established space companies, the primes.

Traditional space to new space

If you have worked on a space project at a traditional space organization that was very innovative and successful, you will have gained a lot of experience. This can be useful when you switch to a new space company because they are often quite small and need people with niche experience. A switch to a new space company is challenging and exciting, which can also be attractive to seniors that can afford to take a risk.

Contractor to internal

Often organizations are not ready to commit to an internal hire, so they outsource for a contractor instead. Contractors are often seen as more flexible and can be sourced easier. As a contractor, you will often have opportunities to work for different organizations, increase your knowledge, and be challenged in different ways. Organizations that see contractors are working properly often want to hire them internally. Therefore, starting as a contractor is a great way to get a foot in the door of an otherwise different to get in the organization. Sometimes moving from contractor to internal is difficult; some organizations are just not looking to hire internally.

Multiple expertise fields to program manager

Working on multiple junior or mid-level roles in different projects will give you multiple insights into how space programs work. This can be useful when moving to a program manager role because they are the link between all departments of an organization. They need to know how they operate in order to make sure their project comes in on time, on budget, and works properly. If you are looking for a program manager or project manager job, you can use your previous roles to demonstrate that you already know how the space industry works.

Other types of careers in the space industry

Of course, there is also another type of career in the space industry. For example, you could have started out as an astrophysicist, and now you are doing R&D at a prime contractor. But you could also have experience in a non-related governmental role and start as a business developer at a new space company. Or, you could even have started out working for an astronautical consultancy and now be running your consulting firm. There are many possible career paths in the space industry, and it is good to keep in mind a career doesn’t always go from bottom to top but might sometimes dip. If you have found a position you like and are not motivated to change jobs, that’s fine too.

Space activities to inspire your space career

There are many exciting developments in the space industry, and various sciences are involved, such as physics, electronics, and chemistry. If you currently have a degree in one of those fields and want to start your career, or already have experience in your job and need ideas to find your next step or challenge. You could consider some of the following space activities that you can work in.

  • Deep space exploration
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cube satellites
  • Spacecraft development
  • Satellite navigation systems
  • Space station development
  • Space launch systems
  • Space and planet exploration
  • Earth observation technology
  • Data science and engineering

As you can see, there are many different types of exciting space activities that you can work in. Work in space may be carried out on the ground, on a station, or on a spacecraft. The work will vary depending on whether you are at a spaceport, launch site, mission control, tracking station, laboratory, or place of business.

Space careers

Expertise fields within the space sector

As previously mentioned, there is a wide range of expertise fields to consider in your space career. You can switch to a different expertise field or stay within your expertise field. It all depends on your current level of experience, knowledge, skills, and need for change. The widely different expertise fields within the space industry include:

Within each expertise field, there could be a dozen more expertise fields you can specialize in. This is because most projects will need many different specializations to run the project or mission smoothly. Additionally, there are many non-space expertise fields available in space careers. So for some jobs in the space industry, you don’t need work experience. For example, administration and IT jobs are often sourced from other sectors.

Careers in Space

National space careers and international space careers

Careers in space often have an international element to them. Many space companies are global, and projects can sometimes involve several different countries or continents. Today there are lots of large multinationals involved in the space sector.

National space careers

When you focus on a national space career, you will often work for a national space agency or start-up. The government of their country funds national space agencies, and often have a specific focus coming from their national interests. Start-ups also have a focus, and this focus is often driven by scientists, engineers, and space individuals that found a niche market opportunity. Jobs at space start-ups are satisfying because they are small, and it offers a different type of challenge in comparison to large corporations.

International space careers

Companies working in space often have multiple businesses units all over the world. This ensures they can maximize their market penetration in different countries and continents. Primes are especially dominant as international space companies. They are developing the actual space technology and hardware and running the space missions. They help build and operate space activities for international partners and nations. Jobs at international space companies are particularly interesting because you can work across different countries and continents.

Agencies and the European Space Agency

The national agencies and the European Space Agency (ESA) also offer great careers in space. Often national agencies work together with other agencies and therefore have an international character. The European space agency took it a step further and combined multiple space agencies’ knowledge to form one agency. The European Space Agency was created by several European countries to collaborate and interact with countries worldwide for their shared benefit. Jobs at ESA are interesting because you can work with scientists and engineers from different countries on a space mission or project.

A word from Sapienza Consulting

Many types of space careers are available, and the space environment is constantly changing. Whether you want to explore the solar system and universe, work on earth observation and telecommunication, or work on the next generation of space technology, everyone has opportunities within the space sector.

At Sapienza Consulting, we are always looking for the latest jobs in this sector, and we understand how to find the best roles for you.

We take pride in providing tailored solutions for our clients and candidates to maximize their success during the matching process. Reach out to us if you require candidates for a space role or are looking for a new space job. Our recruiters will be happy to assist you.