NASA Employment Statistics: 15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know

Working for the most prominent space program in the world must be thrilling. Almost everyone wants to work for NASA and experience the excitement of space exploration firsthand. However, astronauts are only a tiny portion of the professionals working for NASA. The agency provides job opportunities for exceptional candidates with different educational backgrounds.

Getting a job at NASA can prove to be a challenging goal. According to the NASA employment statistics, the agency currently employs around 17,000 people, which is a significantly lower number than a few decades ago. As a result, only the ideal candidates are selected and given a chance to become a part of the most extensive space program in the world.

If you’re interested in finding out more about a career in space exploration, you’ve come to the right place. However, statistics can be hard to find and understand if not presented clearly, so we did the work for you. Let’s learn all about NASA jobs and more.

NASA Employment Statistics and Facts: Editor’s Choice

  • The average NASA employee earns $59,468 per year.
  • Technical directors at NASA’s IT department make $123,055 a year.
  • 33.4% of all NASA employees are female.
  • Software engineers at NASA earn around $100,661 per year.
  • Over 54% of all NASA employees are White.
  • 65.8% of the candidates that NASA employed have a bachelor’s degree.
  • 37% of NASA employees are between 20 and 30 years old.

NASA Jobs and Salaries

Money is the primary motivation for all workers, even those interested in space exploration. Here are a few stats that will show how much NASA employees generally earn and who has the highest income.

1. The average NASA employee earns $59,000 per year.

There are over 17,000 employees working for NASA. Depending on their job titles and roles in the agency, some employees make $33,000 or less. On the other hand, employees in the top 90th percentile make $106,000 or more. There is little difference in salaries among NASA employees by location. However, there’s a high variation in wages because NASA employs a lot of people. 

2. Group leaders at NASA average a yearly salary of $158,752.

When comparing job titles, they have the best incomes. Other important roles that come with high salaries are program and project managers, software engineers, and developers. People with such qualifications earn a lot regardless of their business sector, so it’s not surprising they have the highest paying jobs in the space industry as well. 

3. Financial department employees at NASA average a salary of $78,872 per year.

The numbers show that the financial department has high-paid employees across the entire organization. Other NASA departments that do well for themselves include the nonprofit, engineering, retail, art/design, and IT departments. 

4. Software engineers at NASA earn $100,661 per year, on average.

They have the highest-paid position in the entire NASA engineering department, closely followed by software developers, design project seniors, project leaders, and aerospace engineers. Recent trends show an increasing interest in SpaceX jobs among software engineers as an alternative to a career in NASA.

5. NASA senior scientist employees average a yearly salary of $114,528.

When comparing the wages of NASA employees who work for the research and development department, their position stands out. Their yearly income is the highest by far, and the researcher’s position, which averages $90,001 per year, is a distant second. The stats show that seniority plays a significant role and has a big influence on how much NASA employees make.

6. The average yearly salary for technical directors at NASA’s IT department is $123,055.

IT departments tend to do well in most organizations, and NASA is not an exception. Web managers are right behind technical directors with a yearly salary of $100,141. Their annual incomes make the IT department the only one with two positions that average more than $100,000 per year at NASA.

NASA Employee Diversity Statistics

For years, job diversity has been a controversial topic, even in distinguished organizations like NASA. We used the statistics of male and female employment in NASA and a few other important diversity and job satisfaction stats to understand how the agency deals with this issue.

7. 33.4% of all NASA employees are female.

In other words, only about a third of all NASA employees are female. The vast majority, or 61.7%, are male, and 4.9% didn’t specify their gender in the official statistics of NASA employees.

8. Women hold only 28% of senior positions at NASA.

The numbers are dropping when looking at how many employees at senior positions in NASA are female. To make matters even worse, female employees make up 16% of senior scientific jobs. However, the stats also show that the agency is working hard to balance out these stats.

9. White employees account for 54.1% of all NASA employees.

While more than half of all employees working for NASA are White, we need to look into how many NASA employees belong to other groups—17.1% are Hispanic or Latino, 12.8% are African-American, 11.5% are Asian, and 4.5% are unknown.

10. 45.3% of NASA employees speak Spanish as their second language.

Spanish is the most commonly spoken foreign language among NASA employees. In contrast, French is spoken by 12.6% and German by 6.6% of employees. However, fluency in a specific second language isn’t a priority for space science jobs.

Qualifications of NASA Employees

The hiring process at NASA is quite rigorous, and only the top candidates earn a place in the space program. Looking at the education and qualification statistics can help you understand what it takes to be a NASA employee.

11. 12% of the entire NASA permanent workforce got their education at the University of Houston. 

This university has the highest number of college graduates employed at NASA. A close second is the University of Maryland, with 11.1%. So, if you’re studying at one of these prestigious universities, you can start looking up a NASA job listing.

12. 65.8% of the candidates that NASA employed have a bachelor’s degree.

NASA generally accepts candidates with a bachelor’s degree and above. Only 2.3% have a doctorate, 13.8% have a master’s degree, and 12.3% have an associate degree. Candidates with higher education can expect better salaries.

13. Only 15.5% of the total number of NASA employees has a major in mechanical engineering.

Even though NASA is looking for candidates with a scientific background, 13.2% of its employees majored in business. The doors are always open to a good business analyst, even in organizations whose primary focus is space exploration. Electrical engineering majors make up 12.5%, and computer science majors make up 9.7% of NASA’s employees.

14. 37% of NASA employees are between 20 and 30 years old.

According to the statistics, people in their 20s are best suited for careers in space exploration. While most NASA employees belong to the 20–30 age group, 20% are between 30 and 40 years old. Moreover, 15% of employees are over 40 and 17% are between 18 and 20 years old.  

15. 9% of NASA employees are under 18.

Working at NASA is one of the biggest career goals for many students, and only a few get a chance to do it while they are still in high school. As a result, the agency frequently offers internships to exceptional students. NASA’s requirements are a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and at least 16 years of age.

NASA Employment Statistics: The Takeaway

As you can see from the statistics, many find a career in space exploration an attractive prospect. But that’s not all—NASA also offers competitive salaries to its talented workforce. 

While the stats show that employees at NASA are predominantly male, the agency is one of the biggest employers of women with STEM expertise. People in their 20s seem to have the best chance to get a job at NASA. However, it’s not impossible for younger and older candidates to get hired.

Now you know more about a NASA job listing and what you can expect, you can better prepare for your career in the space industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money do you make at NASA?

NASA is a vast organization that employs an enormous number of people, so salaries vary between $20,000 and $240,000 per year. Different factors like the job title, role, department, and education degree can affect the salary you get at NASA. The average employee across the entire agency makes around $59,468 per year.

What percentage of NASA employees are female?

About 6,000 employees (33.4%) at NASA are female. Even though the number of women in senior positions has been increasing in the past few years, only 28% of senior executives are female. Women account for only 16% of the senior scientific positions at the agency.

Is it easy to get a job at NASA?

While it’s not impossible, it’s certainly not easy to get a job at NASA. The agency accepts candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant scientific field. In addition, it often requires experience that’s relevant to the job. NASA also frequently offers fellowships and internships though only exceptional candidates get selected.

What kind of people does NASA employ?

NASA employs scientists from all branches of science like engineers, physicists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists, etc. Additionally, there are people from different areas of expertise working for NASA, such as finance, human resources, public relations, education, and law.

How many employees does NASA have in 2021?

NASA currently has over 17,000 people on its payroll. While it’s impossible to say how many of NASA’s employees have permanent jobs and how many have fixed-term contracts, the relevant sources indicate a number between 17,000 and 18,000 as the total. This is a significantly lower number of employees compared to the 420,000 people that worked for NASA in 1966.

How many federal employees work for NASA?

As the NASA employment statistics show, most people working for NASA are civil servants. At the same time, government contractors make up about 1,000 of the total number of employees in the organization. These federal employees are employed directly by the government or government-funded companies with NASA contracts. 


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