Qualifications for Becoming a NASA Engineer
So, you want to be a NASA engineer? As you would imagine, only a few are lucky enough to hold such a prestigious title, as the qualifications are involved and extensive. Still, NASA is always seeking out fresh new talent to propel its technology further into the future, which means that becoming a NASA engineer is not an impossible task.
What Does a NASA Engineer Do?
NASA relies heavily on advanced and reliable technology in order to complete their missions. From the safety of rockets to the efficiency of telescopes, engineers are behind all of the aspects of the technology that NASA uses in order to operate, launch people into space and record data on space objects. Therefore, without the best engineers in the country, NASA would not be able to operate.
NASA engineers are responsible not just for developing technology, but for testing it and tweaking it depending on NASA’s unique needs. After all, in many instances, astronauts’ lives depend on the technology used by NASA, and so engineers must be incredibly skilled, experienced and cautious.
How Does One Become Qualified to be a NASA Engineer?
In order to be qualified to become a NASA engineer, a person must first have the proper educational background. At the very least, they need a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university. Of course, the degree would ideally be engineering, although NASA does not count engineering technology as a proper qualifying degree. Life science, physical science and mathematics are also appropriate degrees to become a NASA engineer.
Of course, if you’re trying to be a NASA engineer, NASA wants to see that you have experience dealing with space-related sciences. So, coursework should include some indication of specializing in aerospace technology. NASA’s website details what counts as aerospace technology in terms of educational background. Fields of study that are accepted include astrophysics, biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, Earth and planetary science, industrial engineering and many, many more.
Additionally, NASA accepts those who have completed a graduate program in some accepted field of engineering. If you don't get accepted, you can always apply to work at a NASA Shop.
Are There Ways to Increase the Chances of Getting Accepted?
It goes without saying that this is a highly competitive field, as being able to call yourself a NASA engineer is a great privilege. There are, however, some ways to better secure a position. For instance, NASA periodically offers internship programs, and this allows engineers to have an “in” by doing good work for NASA before being accepted into an official position. NASA also routinely holds contests and other opportunities for engineers to prove themselves to NASA.
Also, NASA offers grooming programs that take up-and-coming engineers and give them chances to demonstrate their expertise to NASA officials. These programs should be taken advantage of thoroughly if you want to be taken seriously as a contender for a position as a NASA engineer. There’s also the NASA Pathways Intern Employment Program that provides three unique paths to becoming employed as a NASA engineer, and this program pays for work. NASA wants to have the brightest engineers on its team, so they do offer many ways to enter the organization as a recent graduate of engineering.
A Chance to Make a Difference with NASA
Given the prestige and cultural significance behind NASA, it’s understandable that wanting to become a NASA engineer remains highly appealing to young, bright engineers around the country. However, as you would imagine, this is a highly competitive industry, with submissions bombarding the organization on an annual basis. But if you do meet the qualifications listed above, it’s absolutely worth a shot.