Obsessed With Space? Apply for These NASA Jobs, Even If You’re a Recent Grad
Who hasn't dreamed of working for NASA? Your first thought is probably about becoming an astronaut, but the agency offers plenty of other interesting jobs. Wouldn’t you want to work for an agency whose mission is, “To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind?”
In 2014, NASA was named as the top federal agency on a list of the best workplaces. The agency ranked number one in leadership, teamwork, innovation and performance-based awards, taking second-place honors in pay and work-life balance. And, contrary to popular belief, not all NASA jobs are located in space; there are 11 NASA Centers located throughout the U.S.
While NASA is not hiring astronauts right now, the agency is hiring for plenty of other positions. Students and recent grads can even get a foot in the door through the Pathways Program. If you’re a U.S. citizen, consider applying for one of these cool positions with NASA.
The Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California is looking for an electronics technician. Applications are due by April 22, and you could earn between $65,231 and $84,800 per year.
You would be responsible for the technical management of several complex avionics systems, as well as equipment used in research vehicles and aircraft. Job duties include design and development, as well as modifying, repairing and maintaining a wide variety of avionics systems, including modified and non-standard ones.
NASA is looking for candidates with at least a year of specialized experience and will score candidates on their skills with electrical integration, avionics, communications, and design and development skills. For more information, see the complete job description.
Contract Price / Cost Analyst
Are you a pricing professional? If so, consider this opportunity at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Applications are due on April 23 and the position's pay scale ranges from $90,823 to $118,069.
Secret security clearance is required for this position, which involves evaluating and negotiating cost and price proposals, as well as resolving final contract pricing. You must have at least four years of contracting (or related) experience, with at least one of those years being specialized and at the same level as this position.
Legal eagles can apply for the Chief Counsel position available with the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. This position closes on April 27 and the salary range is $121,956 up to $173,900 per year. Top secret security clearance is required, and the position includes supervisory duties.
If selected, you will serve as senior legal advisor for the entire Langley Research Center, and advise on law and legal policy related to all of its activities. You will develop policy and procedures to be used at the facility, and remain in regular contact with NASA General Counsel.
You will ensure appropriate legal representation whenever Langley Research Center interests are involved, including matters involving other federal, state and local agencies. You will also adjudicate claims, including injury, death and property claims, in addition to administering ethics programs, formulating liability releases and settling claims when necessary.
To apply, you must be a practicing attorney highly skilled in federal government ethics, patent law, federal personnel law, federal procurement and equal employment opportunity law. You must also be in good standing in a state bar. For more information on this position, see the job listing.
Astrobiology Institute Director
This senior-level position is stationed at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Applications are accepted until May 1, and the pay range is $121,956 to $168,700 per year.
If selected, you will be responsible for “world-class interdisciplinary astrobiology research” across a wide range of disciplines. As director, you’ll be responsible for the institute's scientific activities, including planning and research, though you will not typically perform any research yourself.
Strong leadership is important, as you must keep the research going strong even when budgets change. NASA wants to get the most out of every dollar they spend on astrobiology, and you will be in charge of making that happen. Technical and scientific leadership is expected as the institute conducts investigations in space. You would also focus on working to mentor and develop future astrobiologists through school programs and outreach, in addition to leading the virtual institute's development, and working to advocate for astrobiology.
To apply, you should be highly skilled in astrobiology and possess broad expertise in the component fields of geology, astronomy, planetary science and biology, and have a year's experience at a comparable level, in addition to being recognized as a subject matter expert in the field. For more information on this fascinating job, see the full job listing.
Pathways Program for Students and Recent Graduates
If you're looking to apply to NASA but aren’t quite ready for the positions above, consider applying to the Pathways Program, which offers opportunities for students and recent grads a little earlier in their careers.
The Pathways Intern Employment Program is open to current students with a 2.9 GPA or higher to gain paid experience with NASA while they're still in college. If you graduated from college within the last two years (or are a veteran who graduated within the last six years), consider applying to the Recent Graduates Program. More information on all the Pathways Programs through NASA is available here.
Your Turn: Would you want to work for NASA, even if you couldn’t become an astronaut?
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.