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How To Work For NASA Without A Degree

By David Krug 3 minute read

It’s more complicated than you may imagine to find out if you need a doctorate degree to pursue a career in space exploration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Work in space exploration may be pursued in many different ways, all of which require different types of degrees. 

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of NASA’s more than 17,000 employees hold Ph.D. degrees, while others hold only associate’s degrees or no college experience at all (BLS).

A master’s or doctorate degree may or may not be necessary depending on the type of work you intend to pursue. Technicians, on the other hand, often require the least amount of college education.

Opportunities requiring advanced degrees in the field of space exploration

Astronomers and plasma physicists are two of NASA’s most sought-after scientists. To work at NASA, both astronomers and physicists must have a Ph.D. in their field of study.

In astronomy, celestial bodies such as planets and stars are studied in depth. Researchers in plasma physics investigate this kind of matter, known as plasma, in outer space as part of their work.

As part of a Ph.D. degree program in one of these two branches of study, students are required to take courses in calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and computer science as well as a subfield of the discipline that they find most appealing.

With a Bachelor’s Degree, You Can Work at NASA.

At NASA, there are a surprising number of positions for which only a bachelor’s degree is required!

In order to work as an astronaut, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following; physical science, biology, computer science, mathematics, or engineering.

Meteorologists and other atmospheric scientists can begin their careers at NASA with a bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree is required for most engineers working for NASA, including aerospace engineers, computer engineers, electronic engineers, and mechanical engineers.

NASA employs a wide range of people, and not all of them are scientists. In addition to scientists and engineers, the government’s space exploration program also includes media and communications specialists.

It is common for NASA employees to have a bachelor’s degree in communications, such as in technical writing or public relations.

Associate’s Degree Space Exploration Professions

A complete four-year degree is not required for several critical NASA positions. Spacecraft design and testing, meteorological data collection, mechanical installation, and maintenance all require only an associate’s degree from the technicians who work alongside scientists and engineers to do these tasks. 

Technical expertise trumps scholarly investigation and study in these positions. Typically, technicians begin their careers by attending a community college or technical school to get a degree in their field.

An associate’s degree in aerospace engineering technology might serve as a springboard for a career as an aircraft engineering technician.

An associate’s degree in avionics technology is required for avionics technicians. An associate’s degree in earth science or meteorology is required for a meteorological technician or assistant.

Even certain NASA positions, like that of a photographer, may not require a college degree at all. Remember that a lot of individuals dream of working in the space exploration industry.

A well-rounded education might help you stand out from the crowd when applying for a NASA position.

In the end, whether or not you should return to school to obtain a second degree will be determined by your career goals, not merely your desire to work in a certain field.

David Krug

Author