How Do I Become a Mission Engineer?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 11 May 2020
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Several career paths are open to someone who wants to become a mission engineer, a person who supports space missions. Specific engineering education is usually required, along with the ability to pass a background check. People who want to travel into space will also need to adhere to rigorous physical standards. Numerous job opportunities are available on and off the ground with government space agencies as well as contractors and private firms. These organizations typically list openings on their websites and employment bulletins.

One option is to join the air force. Many space agencies and contractors recruit from among talented air force personnel. To get an education and experience, it is possible to enroll in a program like the Reserve Officers Training Corps, which allows people to pursue degrees and then serve as officers. Someone who wants to become a mission engineer could get a degree in the engineering field and then get practical experience in the service.

Another approach is more academic, and involves obtaining a postgraduate degree in engineering from a reputable educational institution. Someone who wants to become a mission engineer through this approach might want to consider a degree from a school that is associated with the space program. It can help to look up biographies of current mission engineers to see where they trained. This can provide information about where the best research, training, and experience opportunities might be available so students can select the best schools for their needs.

In addition to the appropriate education, someone who wants to become a mission engineer should think about personal history. Space agencies and private contractors can choose from among highly competitive candidates and look for people with excellent academic records who are likely to pass background checks. They work with potentially sensitive materials and projects and thus can’t have conflicts of interest; something like a history of arrest, large debts, or involvement with a foreign country can be grounds for exclusion from the program.

Some mission engineers go into space as astronauts to conduct experiments, operate equipment, and monitor conditions. They need to be in peak physical condition, which requires extensive training and passing a physical examination. People interested in going into space might want to work with a fitness trainer and discuss their aspirations with supervisors. Competition for astronaut positions is especially fierce, and candidates to become a mission engineer in space should be prepared for grueling testing and training before they are assigned to any missions.


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