First, be sure you are eligible to work for NASA
You must be a U.S. citizen to work as a civil service employee at NASA. The exceptions are extremely rare. If you are a non U.S. citizen and you want to work in the space industry, you have to consider opportunities with a private company or with another space agency.
Engineers and scientists are more likely to work for NASA, but other positions are needed
If you ever wonder how to work for NASA, you have to know that NASA looks for people to conduct aerospace research and development, managing resources, and operate NASA’s facilities. There is a wide range of jobs of a very different nature : engineering, scientific research, robotics, finance, education, public affairs, Earth sciences… The biggest part of the NASA’s employees have an engineering background, or have a scientific background. Working in such a space agency is a must if you’ve always wanted to work on a rocket engine, or to work on the design of a space vehicle, or even to create science experiments launched into space. But there are also a lot of other ways to work for NASA. Let’s look at the distribution of jobs at NASA.
Almost two-thirds of the jobs at NASA are classified as “Professional, Engineering and Scientific”
Positions covered : Aerospace Engineering, Biology, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, General Engineering, Meteorology, Accounting… So the best way to work for NASA is to have a high-level knowledge in a specialized field : math, science, engineering, accounting, law… A bachelor’s degree or higher degree is generally required, with major study in a specialized field.
Almost a quarter of the jobs at NASA are classified as “Administrative and Management”
Positions covered : Budget Analyst, Public Affairs Specialist, Administrative Specialist, Information Technology Specialist, Contract Specialist… The background required is a great knowledge of practices, concepts and principles of management, administration or organization. Skills required are : research, writing, analytics thanks to a college level education or thanks to your professional experiences.
Less than one in ten jobs at NASA are classified as “Technical and Medical Support”
Careers such as Engineering Technician, Meteorological Technician or Electronics Technician are possible at NASA, but rare. The job is to support professional or administrative work. It requires to have a high-level knowledge of techniques and equipment, through you professional experiences.
Few jobs at NASA are classified as “Clerical and Administrative Support”
NASA needs people such as Secretary, Accounting Technician, Procurement Clerk, Clerk-Typist, Office Automation Clerk and Management Assistant. But this is not the best way to work for NASA since that’s a small part of the jobs. These jobs require to prepare, receive and verify documents, locate and compil data or information from files, maintain office records, process transactions…
Where are located NASA’s jobs in the U.S.A. ?
Working far from your home must not be problem if you wonder how to work for NASA. There are NASA’s centers in many places in the U.S.A., each of it has a speciality and merge together multiple career fields.
- Alabama : Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)
- California : Ames Research Center (ARC), Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC)
- Florida : Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
- Maryland : Goddard Space Flight Center (MSFC)
- Mississippi : John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC), NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC)
- Ohio : Glenn Research Center (GRC)
- Texas : Johnson Space Center (JSC)
- Virginia : Langley Research Center (LARC)
- Washington DC : NASA Headquarters
How to find NASA’s job offers and how to apply at NASA ?
Nowadays, it is easy to find NASA’s job offers and to apply for a job. NASA STARS (NASA’s Staffing and Recruitment System) is integrated in the USAJOBS system.
First, you have to create a USAJOBS account and to build your resume
To apply for a job at NASA, you need to have a USAJOBS account : click here to start. Create it if you don’t have one yet. You have to complete your personal profile and to build your resume without uploading it (you have to use the USAJobs Resume Builder).
Secondly, search for job opportunities at NASA
Once your USAJOBS profile is fully completed and once you have built your resume, you are ready to apply for a job in the space agency ! There is a landing page dedicated to NASA to provide a easy path for people who wander how to work for NASA. Click here to go to the NASA dedicated page and fullfill the search fields “Keywords” and “Location” to launch a targeted search (search with empty fields if you want to see all NASA job offers)
Thirdly, carefully read the vacancy and optimize your resume
Did you found the ideal NASA job opportunity for you ? Congratulations ! Above all, be focused when you read the vacancy announcement and calmly review your resume to make sure you are eligible for the position (qualifications and professional experiences). To optimize your chances to be selected for the rest of the recruitment process, be sure to review the major duties of the position. As with any application, you have also to be sure that your resume perfectly describes your education, training, accomplishments and other activities that are applicable to the position you apply for. In particular, be sure to provide specific and detailed information about each of your valuable skills for this job. Don’t forget to include the start and end dates for each job. Recruiters don’t have time to ask details to applicants, so your application must be as clear as possible.
Finally, provide additional information to NASA STARS
Once your application is completed on USAJOBS, click on the “Apply Online” button. Your USAJOBS profile information and resume will be transferred from USAJOBS to NASA STARS. It’s not over yet ! Follow the instructions to complete your application. You will see summary information on the job and NASA STARS will ask you to complete a new series of questions. The application process is not easy but you have to understand that while you wonder how to work for NASA, NASA wonders how to recruit the right person ! This series of questions helps NASA to understand your work experience.
If you apply for a Senior Executive Service (SES) position, you have to write about your Executive Core Qualifications and your Technical Qualifications. NASA strongly recommends to write it offline before starting the application process.
Bonus step : pray !
Once your application to work for NASA is complete, you are transferred to USAJOBS where you can follow your application status. You can also make changes to your application before the deadline.
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Pictures by NASA/MSFC, NASA/JPL/UA/Lockheed Martin, USAJOBS screenshot.